Share Mark as favorite


Event Summary

On Tuesday afternoon, AEI’s Nat Malkus welcomed Elizabeth McGhee Hassrick, Stephen Raudenbush, and Lisa Rosen, the authors of “The Ambitious Elementary School: Its Conception, Design, and Implications for Educational Equality” (University of Chicago Press, April 2017), to AEI to discuss school design, personalized instruction, and educational equality.

The authors opened the event by describing their theory of school reform and its implementation at the University of Chicago Charter School. Their efforts have reduced racial inequality and improved reading ability among elementary school students. In short, the authors advocated for increased collaboration among teachers, administrators, and parents and for systemic approaches to school turnarounds.

Mashea Ashton of Digital Pioneers Academy (DPA) in Washington, DC, drew parallels between her vision for DPA and the model at the UChicago Charter School. Melissa Brunson, principal of Cloverly Elementary School in Maryland, shared her own experience in making leadership more collaborative. Finally, Johns Hopkins University Professor Robert Slavin lauded the work being done but emphasized the need to scale successful models so success becomes the norm, rather than the exception, in schools.

— Jenn Hatfield

Event Description

In their new book “The Ambitious Elementary School: Its Conception, Design, and Implications for Educational Equality” (University of Chicago Press, 2017), Elizabeth McGhee Hassrick, Stephen Raudenbush, and Lisa Rosen discuss how schools can be designed from the ground up to improve educational equality, one student at a time.

Their model involves a complete reorganization of schools, tailoring instruction to meet individual students’ needs and creating collaborative networks of teachers, parents, and administrators. The secret behind such dramatic change is giving teachers new tools and space to succeed. The authors describe what this model looks like in real life and provide compelling evidence that it improves student learning.

The authors join AEI’s Nat Malkus and a panel of experts to discuss their findings and the implications for education policy and reform nationwide.

Join the conversation on social media with #AmbitiousElem.

If you are unable to attend, we welcome you to watch the event live on this page. Full video will be posted within 24 hours.


3:45 PM

4:00 PM
Nat Malkus, AEI

4:05 PM
Book presentation:
Elizabeth McGhee Hassrick, A. J. Drexel Autism Institute
Stephen Raudenbush, University of Chicago
Lisa Rosen, University of Chicago

4:30 PM
Panel discussion

Mashea Ashton, Digital Pioneers Academy
Melissa Brunson, Cloverly Elementary School
Stephen Raudenbush, University of Chicago
Robert Slavin, Johns Hopkins University

Nat Malkus, AEI

5:00 PM

5:15 PM

Event Contact Information

For more information, please contact Jenn Hatfield at [email protected], 202.862.5859.

Media Contact Information

For media inquiries, please contact [email protected], 202.862.5829

Speaker Biographies

Mashea Ashton is the founder and CEO of Digital Pioneers Academy, a new charter school proposed for Washington, DC, in the fall of 2018. She recently returned to the Washington, DC, area after starting her career as a special education teacher in Williamsburg, Virginia, and Washington, DC, and then spending the past 20 years implementing and scaling the best practices in urban education across the country. Most recently, she served as the CEO of the Newark Charter School Fund, where she oversaw a $48 million initiative to support the quality growth of charter schools. Ms. Ashton has previously served as the executive director for the New York Program and senior adviser for charter school policy for New Leaders for New Schools. She also served as the executive director for charter schools for the New York City Department of Education and the national director of recruitment and selection for the Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP). She is the vice chair of the board of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers and serves on the boards of St. Patrick’s Episcopal Day School, the National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools, the National Charter School Resource Center, and the Eagle Academy Foundation. She has been honored as the New Jersey Charter Champion for Advocacy by the New Jersey Charter Schools Association, the First Lady of Charter Schools by Marion P. Thomas Charter School, the Shirley Chisholm Trailblazer by SHE Wins LLC, a Pahara-Aspen Education Fellow by the Aspen Institute, and an Education Award recipient from Leadership Newark. Ms. Ashton is a frequent speaker and panelist for charter school and education reform advocacy organizations around the country. She has a M.Ed. in special education with an emphasis on learning disabilities and emotional disturbance and a B.A. in sociology and elementary education from the College of William and Mary.

Melissa Brunson is the principal of Cloverly Elementary School in Montgomery County, Maryland. In addition, she serves as the vice president of the elementary chapter and board member of the Montgomery County Association of Administrators and Principals. Furthermore, she serves as an adjunct professor at Howard County Community College. She earned a bachelor of arts in sociology at Montclair State University, a master of arts in leadership in teaching at Notre Dame University, and a doctorate in educational leadership at Bowie State University. Her many affiliations include Phi Delta Kappa, Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Inc., Chi Alpha Honor Society, and the NAACP. Dr. Brunson affirms the belief that all students deserve excellent leaders and teaching staff, exposure to rigorous instructional programs, and to be educated in healthy and hopeful school environments where their academic potential is maximized.

Elizabeth McGhee Hassrick is an assistant professor with the Life Course Outcomes Research Program at the A. J. Drexel Autism Institute. She received her master’s and doctoral degrees in sociology from the University of Chicago and a master’s in education from the University of New Mexico. Before her career as an academic researcher, she was a classroom teacher for 10 years in public and private schools in the United States and abroad. She has held faculty research positions at the University of Chicago and Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences. Her research, investigating collaboration networks across home and school settings, has been published in peer-review journals and funded by grants from the Health Resource and Services Administration, the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the Spencer Foundation, and the National Academy of Education. Dr. McGhee Hassrick is a Social Networks and Health Fellow at Duke University, investigating social network interventions that promote positive outcomes for people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), their families, and their communities. She is currently conceptualizing, adapting, and pilot testing digital, sensory, and face-to-face social network interventions that track and intervene on cooperative infrastructures across home, school, and clinical settings for youth with ASD.

Nat Malkus is a research fellow in education policy studies at AEI, where he specializes in K–12 education. Specifically, he applies quantitative data to education policy. His work focuses on school finance, charter schools, school choice, and the future of standardized testing. Before joining AEI, he was a senior researcher at the American Institutes for Research, where he led research teams analyzing national education data on topics ranging from how many college students take remedial courses, to the comparisons between charter and traditional public schools, to tracking student achievement and graduation rates in schools undergoing turnaround reforms. Previously, Dr. Malkus worked on a four-year experimental study to evaluate whether math coaches could help math teachers improve student performance. He has also taught advanced graduate statistics courses and quantitative policy analysis to graduate students. Earlier, he spent four years as a middle school teacher in Maryland. He has a Ph.D. in education policy and leadership from the University of Maryland, College Park, and a B.A. in historical studies from Covenant College.

Stephen Raudenbush is the Lewis-Sebring Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Sociology and chairman of the Committee on Education at the University of Chicago. He is interested in statistical models for child and youth development in social settings such as classrooms, schools, and neighborhoods. He is best known for his work developing hierarchical linear models, with broad applications in the design and analysis of longitudinal and multilevel research. He is currently studying the development of literacy and math skills in early childhood with implications for instruction, methods for assessing school and classroom quality, and methods for heterogeneous effects of interventions. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the National Academy of Education, and he is a recipient of the American Educational Research Association Award for Distinguished Contributions to Educational Research.

Lisa Rosen is the executive director of the UChicago Science of Learning Center and the research program director for its initiative, Successful Pathways from School to Work. Her work focuses on developing new, collaborative initiatives to translate research into interventions that can improve learning in home and school settings. She holds a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from the University of California, San Diego. Her coauthored book “The Ambitious Elementary School: Its Conception, Design, and Contribution to Educational Equality” (University of Chicago Press, 2017) draws on her prior work at the Urban Education Institute, where her research examined the social and cultural dimensions of urban school effectiveness and improvement. Dr. Rosen was a recipient of a Spencer Foundation national dissertation fellowship for her research on California’s “Math Wars” and a member of the Spencer Foundation’s Advanced Studies Institute on Anthropology and Education. Her work has appeared in several volumes on the anthropology of education and education policy, including in the American Educational Research Association’s “Handbook of Education Policy Research” (Routledge, 2009).

Robert Slavin is director of the Center for Research and Reform in Education at Johns Hopkins University and chairman of the Success for All Foundation. He received his B.A. in psychology from Reed College in 1972 and his Ph.D. in social relations in 1975 from Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Slavin has authored or coauthored more than 300 articles and book chapters on such topics as cooperative learning, comprehensive school reform, ability grouping, school and classroom organization, desegregation, mainstreaming, research review, and evidence-based reform. He is the author or coauthor of 24 books, including “Educational Psychology: Theory into Practice” (Allyn & Bacon, 2014); “Two Million Children: Success for All” (Corwin, 2009); “Educational Research in the Age of Accountability” (Allyn & Bacon, 2007); and “Effective Programs for Latino Students” (Erlbaum, 2000). He received the American Educational Research Association’s (AERA) Early Career Award in 1985, the Palmer O. Johnson Memorial Award for the best article in an AERA journal in 1988, the Charles A. Dana Award in 1994, the James Bryant Conant Award from the Education Commission of the States in 1998, the Outstanding Leadership in Education Award from the Horace Mann League in 1999, the Distinguished Services Award from the Council of Chief State School Officers in 2000, the Palmer O. Johnson Memorial Award for the best article in an AERA journal in 2008, and the AERA Review of Research Award in 2009. Dr. Slavin was appointed as a member of the National Academy of Education in 2009 and an AERA Fellow in 2010.

Discussion: (0 comments)

There are no comments available.

Sort By:

Refine Content:



  • Event (3205)

Additional Keywords:

Refine Results

or to save searches.

Refine Content