Student success is shaped by a multitude of factors, both within and beyond the walls of the classroom.

At the Johns Hopkins School of Education, we are dedicated to transforming learning environments through cutting-edge, evidence-based research. As part of this effort, our faculty and research scholars explore the intricate interplay of social dynamics, political forces, economic disparities, and cultural influences — which together shape our educational settings.

Understanding student achievement requires a holistic perspective. With expertise and unwavering commitment, our researchers delve into the complex web of social and economic factors within the educational landscape. From geographical considerations to the dynamics of family life, we meticulously examine the social context of education and its profound impact on student success. Then, utilizing data-driven insights, we develop practical strategies and actionable recommendations that empower schools and communities to drive improved outcomes for all students.

PEOPLE OF SOE

Robert Balfanz, PhD

School of Education Distinguished Professor; Director, Everyone Graduates Center

"Advances in learning science tell us that to maximize student learning, we need to recognize that the learning process is driven by an integration of academic, social, and emotional skills."

Robert Balfanz headshot.

Backed by a five-year, $5.8 million federal EIR grant, Robert Balfanz and his team are refining and expanding an innovative curriculum to give eighth graders the critical social-emotional learning skills they need to navigate the transition to high school and succeed in the critical ninth grade year and beyond. The project will transform an existing, multiyear middle-grades advisory curriculum into a high-impact course: “Skills for Secondary School Success.”

Our Social Context Experts

The Johns Hopkins School of Education is home to some of the nation’s top experts, thought leaders, and mentors in this field.

  • Robert Balfanz, PhD

    Professor
    Co-Director, Center for Social Organization of Schools

    Affiliation

    Center for Social Organization of Schools, SOE Leadership

    Expertise

    Education Policy & Politics, Research, Evaluation & Assessment, Social Context of Education

    Headshot of Robert  Balfanz, PhD
  • Joyce L. Epstein, PhD

    Professor
    Co-Director, Center on School, Family, and Community Partnerships
    Co-Director, National Network of Partnership Schools (NNPS)

    Affiliation

    Center for Social Organization of Schools, SOE Leadership

    Expertise

    Administration, Organization & Leadership, Social Context of Education

    Headshot of Joyce L. Epstein,  PhD
  • Yolanda Abel, EdD

    Associate Professor

    Affiliation

    Advanced Studies in Education

    Expertise

    Administration, Organization & Leadership, Education Policy & Politics, Social Context of Education

    Headshot of Yolanda  Abel,  EdD
  • Richard Lofton, PhD

    Assistant Professor

    Affiliation

    Center for Safe and Healthy Schools

    Expertise

    Social Context of Education

    Headshot of Richard  Lofton, PhD
  • Rebecca Cruz, PhD

    Assistant Professor

    Affiliation

    Center for Safe and Healthy Schools, Innovative Teaching & Leadership

    Expertise

    Education Policy & Politics, Social Context of Education, Special Education

    Headshot of Rebecca  Cruz, PhD
  • Olivia Marcucci, PhD

    Assistant Professor

    Affiliation

    Advanced Studies in Education, Center for Safe and Healthy Schools

    Expertise

    Social Context of Education

    Headshot of Olivia  Marcucci, PhD
  • Stephen Morgan, PhD

    Bloomberg Distinguished Professor

    Expertise

    Measurement & Research Methodologies, Social Context of Education

  • Eric Rice, PhD

    Assistant Professor

    Affiliation

    Counseling & Educational Studies

    Expertise

    Social Context of Education, Urban Education

    Headshot of Eric  Rice, PhD