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Faculty & Research

Susan Moore Johnson

Jerome T. Murphy Research Professor in Education

Susan Moore Johnson

Degree:  Ed.D., Harvard University, (1981)
Email:  [javascript protected email address]
Phone:  617.495.4677
Vitae/CV:   Susan Moore Johnson.pdf
Office:  Gutman 406B
Office Hours Contact:  Email the Faculty Member


Susan Moore Johnson studies, teaches, and consults about teacher policy, organizational change, and administrative practice. A former high school teacher and administrator, Johnson has a continuing interest in the work of teachers and the reform of schools. She has studied the leadership of superintendents and organization of school districts; the effects of collective bargaining on schools; the priorities of local teacher union leaders; teacher evaluation; the use of incentive pay plans for teachers; and the school as a context for adult work. Currently, Johnson directs the Project on the Next Generation of Teachers , which examines how best to recruit, develop, and retain a strong teaching force. She is the author or co-author of six books and many articles. She served as academic dean of the Ed School from 1993 to 1999. Between 2007 and 2015, Johnson was co-chair of the Public Education Leadership Project (PELP) a collaboration between Harvard's Education and Business Schools.


Outstanding Writing Award, American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education,(2004)

Spencer Senior Scholar Award,(2000)

Spencer Mentor Network Award,(1999)

National Academy of Education/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship,(1987)

Sponsored Projects


Retention and Support of Teachers in High-Poverty Schools (2011-2012)
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Low-income schools often have great difficulty retaining effective teachers, who tend to transfer to whiter, wealthier schools when positions become available. This steady exodus means that low-income students are routinely taught by inexperienced teachers, that students experience the disruption and loss caused by teacher turnover, and that schools do not increase their instructional capacity over time. In this project, which we began in 2010 with funding from the Ford Foundation, we seek to understand and explain how high-poverty schools can support and retain good teachers. Between fall and winter of 2010 and 2011, we identified and gained approval to study six high-poverty schools in Boston. These schools are located in different parts of the city and, as a group, include elementary, middle, K-8, and high schools. Each school is demographically diverse and serves large proportions of low-income students. We have interviewed 90 teachers and administrators in these schools and gathered documents and data about them. All interviews have been transcribed and we are just beginning to analyze the interviews. We plan a set of at least three papers based on these data as well as a comprehensive literature review on the topic of staffing high-poverty schools. To complete this work, we are requesting $40,000 from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.


Finders and Keepers: Helping New Teachers Survive and Thrive in Our Schools (with the Project on the Next Generation of Teachers),(2004)

Leading to Change: The Challenge of the New Superintendency ,(1996)

Teachers at Work: Achieving Success in Our Schools ,(1990)

Teacher Unions in Schools ,(1984)


Board of Directors, National Academy of Education,(2003-present)

Editorial Board, Harvard Education Publishing,(2003-present)

Research Advisory Board, Teach for America,(2003-present)

Editorial Board, Harvard Education Letter,(1993-present)

Advisory Board, TURN/Broad Teacher Union Project

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