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Faculty & Research

Stephanie M. Jones

Gerald S. Lesser Professor in Early Childhood Development

Stephanie M. Jones

Degree:  Ph.D., Yale University, (2002)
Email:  [javascript protected email address]
Phone:  617.496.2223
Vitae/CV:   Stephanie M. Jones.pdf
Office:  Larsen 702
Office Hours Contact:  Email the Faculty Member and cc the Faculty Assistant
Faculty Assistant:  Jonathan Whichard


Stephanie Jones' research, anchored in prevention science, focuses on the effects of poverty and exposure to violence on children and youth's social, emotional, and behavioral development. Over the last ten years her work has focused on both evaluation research addressing the impact of preschool and elementary focused social-emotional learning interventions on behavioral and academic outcomes and classroom practices; as well as new curriculum development, implementation, and testing. Jones is a recipient of the Grawemeyer Award in Education for her work with Zigler and Walter Gilliam on A Vision for Universal Preschool Education (Cambridge University Press, 2006) and a recipient of the Joseph E. Zins Early-Career Distinguished Contribution Award for Action Research in Social and Emotional Learning. Jones' research portfolio emphasizes the importance of conducting rigorous scientific research, including program evaluation, that also results in accessible content for early and middle childhood practitioners and policymakers. Her developmental and experimental research investigates the causes and consequences of social-emotional problems and competencies; strategies for altering the pathways that shape children's social-emotional development; and programs, interventions, and pedagogy that foster social-emotional competencies among children, adults, and environments. Her policy-driven research with colleague Nonie Lesaux focuses on the challenge of simultaneously expanding and improving the quality of early childhood education, at scale (The Leading Edge of Early Childhood Education, Harvard Education Press, 2016). Jones serves on numerous national advisory boards and expert consultant groups related to social-emotional development and child and family anti-poverty policies, including the National Boards of Parents as Teachers and Engaging Schools. She consults to program developers, including Sesame Street, and has conducted numerous evaluations of programs and early education efforts, including Reading, Writing, Respect and Resolution, Resolving Conflict Creatively, SECURe, and the Head Start CARES initiative. Across projects and initiatives, Jones maintains a commitment to supporting the alignment of preK-3 curricula and instructional practices.

Areas of Expertise
Sponsored Projects


WA SEL Framework to EASEL Lab's Explore SEL Database (2020-2021)
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

his project would fund analysis to include the OSPI SEL framework in Explore SEL (, an SEL framework comparison tool managed by the Harvard Graduate School of Education's Ecological Approaches to Social Emotional Learning (EASEL) Laboratory (, led by Dr. Stephanie Jones. EASEL Lab's inclusion of the OSPI framework in Explore SEL could help support districts in implementing the framework by allowing comparisons to other frameworks that might have complementary constructs and perhaps more implementation guidance than OSPI has been able to offer. This would be of direct benefit to Road Map region school districts, including those hosting Local Improvement Networks, which require implementation of a whole school SEL framework. Having the OSPI framework in the Explore SEL database will support our LIN districts in selecting and implementing a whole school SEL framework that best fits each LIN's context.The inclusion of the OSPI SEL framework in the Explore SEL tool will benefit schools throughout Washington - as well as schools and other education institutions across the U.S. Washington's education sector would also benefit from the inclusion in Explore SEL of all other state level SEL frameworks that have been developed to date. The additional cost to include all state frameworks - and not just OSPI's - is marginal and would add significantly to the value of the Explore SEL tool to our partner schools and districts. As none of these frameworks is a static document, the ability to compare across state frameworks and learn from other states will be a valuable data asset for the field.


Lebanon SEL Framework Mapping Project - Part B (2019-2021)
New York University

The main objectives of the Lebanon SEL Framework Mapping project are to: (a) train Lebanese government staff and graduate students on the EASEL Lab coding system and mapping methodology; (b) identify, code, and “map” different SEL frameworks being used by the Lebanon Ministryof Education; (c) create a suite of online interactive data-based tools to support a better understanding of the similarities, differences, and gaps in the SEL skills being targeted by different frameworks and departments within the MOE (e.g., DOPS and CERD); and (d) support a consensus process toward an aligned national framework that clarifies priority SEL competences for Lebanon, including for thedevelopment of an aligned measurement tool for SEL.Together, these objectives aim to move the Government of Lebanon toward a more coherent, cohesive and evidence-based approach to SEL across its many sectors related to the teaching and learning of Lebanese and Syrian students in the public school system.Stephanie Jones is the Director of the EASEL Lab and will serve as Principal Investigator for the subcontract on this project. Jones will work with Larry Aber, Co-Director of NYU Global TIES, to ensure all research findings are integrated into ongoing work with the Lebanese Ministry of Education.


Designing Culturally Responsive SEL (2019-2020)
The Ethel Walker School Inc

This project is a research-practice partnership between the EASEL Lab and Horizons Ethel Walker.The purpose is to collaborate on research & development and pilot implementation of a set of teaching strategies for “Culturally Responsive SEL.” We will focus specifically on girls of color in grades PreK-6. The primary goals are to gather and synthesize existing research and to developteacher training/workshop materials, including a set of foundational CRT+SEL strategies that teachers can use to design and carry out their 6-week summer unit at Horizons Ethel Walker, an outof-school-time and summer program for girls PreK-8 in Simsbury, Connecticut.


A novel approach to professional development for early childhood educators and caregivers (2019-2021)
Administration for Children and Families

Early education and care systems invest heavily in professional development (PD) programs aimed at improving quality. Although research suggests that some PD programs can shape early educator and caregiver practices, such programs are often complex and resource intensive. These factors make understanding PD’s mechanisms challenging and also limit the widespread expansion of PD to the often fragmented early education and care landscape. To speak to these issues related to the development and expansion of PD programs for early educators and caregivers, in the proposed project I will test the efficacy of a novel, scalable, and cost-effective researcher-developed professional development (PD) intervention – so-called Early Learning Study at Harvard (ELS@H) Bits – aimed at improving the practices of early educators and caregivers working with four-year-old children across the state ofMassachusetts. The ELS@H Bits intervention leverages insights from behavioral science and involves sending educators and caregivers text messages containing actionable information on two high impact practices: (1) using transitions as meaningful learning opportunities, and (2) encouraging children’s language through open-ended questions.The ELS@H Bits intervention is currently being randomly assigned to a diverse sample of educators and caregivers to examine whether the provision of information about practices is sufficient to affect early educators and caregivers’ related practices, as well as their knowledge of and beliefs about those practices. The efficacy of ELS@H Bits will then be assessed using data from detailed observations conducted in early education and care settings. A follow-up survey will also be deployed to collect information on educator and caregiver knowledge and beliefs related to the targeted practices. The study sample currently comprises over 100 early educators and caregivers working in community-based centers, Head Starts, public school prekindergartens, and licensed family childcare centers across the state. It includes educators and caregivers from a diverse array of sociodemographic backgrounds and those working in both urban and rural communities.Funds from for the proposed project will principally support analyses and dissemination of the findings from the ELS@H Bits evaluation. Analyses of these data will provide insight into whether this elemental component of PD, the ongoing provision of bite-sized information, is an effective and scalable method for improving educator and caregiver knowledge, beliefs, and practices, as well as indicate whether the intervention is more or less impactful for particular educators and caregivers. Findings will not only be prepared for presentation at academic conferences and for publication in a peer-reviewed journal, but will also be disseminated to practitioners and policymakers in the early education and care field.


Improving low-income students' odds of being on-track and college ready in Chicago Public Schools: The respective roles of child self-regulation and preschool vs. high school intervention (2019-2021)
Columbia University

Stephanie will collaborate with PI Raver and other investigators on data analysis and publication. Specifically, Jones will develop and execute analytic plans to track trajectories of students' academic, regulatory, and behavioral skills over time, including the ways in which these skills relate to the original CSRP intervention in preschool, as well as the ways that they predict differential impacts of the mindset intervention.


Navigating SEL (2019-2021)
Wallace Foundation



SEL in schools across the nation: What's really happening (2019-2021)
William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

In districts and schools across the nation, there is a great deal of interest in social and emotional learning (SEL), and in particular, programs and approaches that target this broad body of skills, competencies, attitudes, and beliefs. Indeed, a recent national, representativesurvey of school principals (Ready to Lead; DePaoli, Atwell, & Bridgeland, 2017) revealed that the vast majority of school leaders consider SEL very important and believe that it is teachable and relevant to all students. Moreover, approximately 73% of those surveyed indicated theyhad “a plan for teaching SEL and were currently implementing it school-wide,” or had “a plan for SEL that has been partially implemented” (p. 4). These data suggest not only that there is a great deal of interest in SEL, and even some knowledge of what it is, but also that SEL is already being implemented to a substantial degree in schools around the country. Importantly, many of the deeper learning competencies outlined by the Education Program (e.g., critical thinking and problem solving, collaboration, effective communication, self-direction, and academicmindsets) closely align with or fall under the broad umbrella of SEL.However – beyond broad surveys like that described in Ready to Lead, high-level implementation data from a handful of program evaluations, and a select number of case examples – there is currently little research that describes with any depth what is actually happening in schools when SEL is being implemented. To deepen our understanding of SEL on the ground and grow our knowledge of the degree to which, and how, SEL is tied to and embedded in the instructional and culture/climate work of schools, we need a closer look at the perceptions and experiences of those engaged in and exposed to it. While some surveys have looked at traditional indicators of quantity (i.e., frequency, dosage, duration) and fidelity (i.e.,degree of adherence to a program model), there has not yet been a large-scale survey of schools using a representative sample that explores and describes the landscape of SEL work across the country, nor has there yet been a systematic effort to observe and describe the “lookand feel” of SEL as it happens on the ground and is experienced by those exposed to it. To that end, in the proposed work, we ask the following questions:1. What is the landscape of SEL work across elementary schools in the US? What do principals, teachers, and school staff say about (a) what they are doing and why, (b) their beliefs about its impact on and role in student learning, and (c) the specific programs and approaches they’ve adopted?2. What is the nature of the SEL work actually happening in a subsample of schools, based on school visits and observations? What are the experiences and perceptions of those enacting and exposed to SEL in schools? What are the key artifacts that adults and students would identify and share to represent their engagement in SEL?


Social and Emotional Learning in Schools: District and School Leader Training Workshop Series (2018-2021)
MetroWest Community Health Care Foundation

The central goal of this project is to provide district leaders with technical assistance focused on building knowledge and capacity for effective, sustainable social and emotional learning implementation. This will include a leader-focused social and emotional learning implementation workbook designed to facilitate the planning, implementation, and monitoring of social and emotional learning programming and strategies. District leaders will also engage in a series of workshops that are aligned with the workbook and that will provide an overview of social and emotional learning and its importance in school settings, including strategies for preparing schools for successful implementation.


SEL Kernels: A Personalized Approach to Social and Emotional Learning in Schools, Phase 1 (2017-2021)
Silicon Valley Community Foundation

The central goal of this project is to develop and test a set of evidence-based kernels of practice that represent a smaller-scale, personalized approach to SEL, thereby increasing feasibility, sustainability, and impact across settings.Ultimately, our goal is to draw upon the pilots we have completed to date to further develop, refine, and test a set of kernels that can be deployed andeffectively integrated into the structures and daily practices of schools and schooling.


Alignment, Codification, and Performance Management related to Achievement First Bridgeport Academy's Character Development Work (2014-2021)
Tauck Family Foundation

Stephanie Jones and the SECURe Team at the Harvard Graduate School of Education propose to collaborate with Achievement First Bridgeport Academy (AFBA) and the Tauck Family Foundation (TFF) to support the clarifying, codifying, and strengthening of its ongoing student-focused character development/social-emotional learning work


School Reform and Beyond: Pre-K to 1st grade (2011-2013)

As one of two PrincipalInvestigators, Raver will oversee the subaward to New York University. Raver's tasks and activities over the course of the study will include collaborating with Jones In the design, sampling and measurement components of the study.This Includes recommendations, review, and rationale for site selection and completion of measurement protocols, review of the design and Implementation of classroom curricular components,instructional strategies, teacher training/workforce development, and the approach to be used for monitoring of Intervention fidelity of Implementation. Raver will participate In monthly (by phone) and quarterly (by teleconference} meetings to review collection, analysis, and write-up of raw data generated In Years 1 and 2 of the project. hi addition, Raver will collaborate on drafting, review, and submission of one or more reports and papers as part of the project's dissemination effort. •

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