Batenberg Discusses Gifted and Talented Education in Parents Magazine

Ann Batenberg, clinical associate professor of gifted education in Simmons, provides a framework for how gifted education is working in the U.S.

In a Parents magazine article, she discusses how a lack of federal laws pertaining to gifted education has lead to a lack of identifying and serving students. She also says using local norms may be better determinants than national testing. “High test scores have proven to be better at predicting the income level of a student, not their academic achievement,” she adds. Read more.


Pavlakis Contributes Insights on Uprooted Students in Public Radio Documentary

Alexandra Pavlakis, assistant professor in Education Policy and Leadership, researches the effects of homelessness on students, so when APM Reports decided to do a documentary on children who get uprooted from schools repeatedly, Pavlakis was consulted.

Her insights on the increasing population of homeless students are featured in “Students on the Move: Keeping uprooted kids in school.” The documentary was distributed to 300 public radio stations, including KERA 90.1 in North Texas. The station aired the documentary August 18, 2019.

APM Reports provides the audio story and the transcript.

The Atlantic Features Gándara’s Expertise in Article on U of Alaska Cuts

Assistant Professor Denisa Gándara in the Department of Education Policy and Leadership was interviewed by The Atlantic on state funding cuts to the University of Alaska system. Initially, the governor asked the university for $130 million in cuts, then negotiated $70 million over three years.

Gándara points out that both the state and the university have been relying heavily on revenues from the oil market, and not moving away from that dependence. The university should be emphasizing its role in educating students for non-oil dependent jobs, she says. Read more of her observations on the consequences of these cuts.


Dominique Baker Examines Student Debt-to-Income Ratio at Texas Public Universities

Dominique Baker, assistant professor of Education Policy and Leadership, has done the first study looking at debt-to-income ratio for Texas public university graduates. Her research, published in AERA Open, covered students who started college between 2004 and 2008.

College students with a bachelor’s degree had, on average, student loan debts that equaled 74 percent of what they earned in their first-year wages. This is higher than the 60 percent threshold the state calls for in its 60x30TX strategic plan.

The plan challenges public colleges and universities to increase completion of undergraduate programs in shorter periods of time, as well as efforts to keep undergraduate student debt at or below 60 percent of first-year wages by 2030. Read more.

See coverage in Forbes and   The Dallas Morning News.

Inside Higher Ed Features Opinion Piece by Ferguson on Bias Response Teams

Kiersten Ferguson, clinical associate professor in higher education, collaborates with a team of scholars to examine misconceptions of bias response teams at 19 universities around the country. In their opinion piece for Inside Higher Ed, they argue that the truth about these teams is more complex than what headlines claim. See excerpt here.


Washington Post Cites Baker’s Research on African-American Student Loan Debt

In looking at current discussions to relieve African-American student loan debt, The Washington Post reported on debt relief at Morehouse College issued by donor Robert F. Smith.

Dominique Baker, assistant professor of education policy and leadership in Simmons, comments on the need for stronger fixes. She notes problems with the complicated repayment system and labor market discrimination impacting African-Americans. Read more.

Baker’s research focuses on the way that education policy affects the access and success of underrepresented students in higher education. She primarily investigates student financial aid, affirmative action, and policies that influence the ability to create an inclusive and equitable campus climate.

AERA Awards Four in Simmons with Distinctions

Annie Wilhelm, Ph.D.
Doris Baker, Ph.D.



Three Simmons faculty members and one doctoral candidate were recognized at the 2019 American Educational Research Association (AERA) conference with awards for their contributions to their fields.

Teaching and Learning  faculty members Annie Wilhelm and Doris Luft Baker received AERA Special Interest Group (SIG) awards.

Luft Baker was recognized for the AERA Technology, Instruction, Cognition & Learning SIG with the International Collaboration Award, and Wilhelm for the Research in Mathematics Education SIG’s Early Career Publication Award.

Dominique Baker, an assistant professor in Education Policy and Leadership, was chosen as an AERA Oustanding Reviewer 2018, and additionally was named to the Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis (EEPA) editorial board.

Dominque Baker, Ph.D.

Also receiving recognition was graduate student Sumei Wu, whose poster proposal, Using Virtual Reality Simulations to Improve Three Novice Mainstream Teachers’ Enactment of Questioning Strategies with English Learners was rated one of the top proposals. As a finalist, Wu will present next year in AERA Division D’s In-Progress Research Gala.



Sumei Wu, doctoral candidate, pictured at right.


















Gándara receives AERA Grant to Examine Promise Programs

Assistant Professor Denisa Gándara, Department of Education Policy and Leadership, has received one of three American Educational Research Association (AERA) research grants to study free college or “Promise” programs with co-PI Amy Li (University of Northern Colorado).

Promise programs, which cover college tuition (and sometimes other costs) for all eligible students in a geographic region, have proliferated across the United States, with recent adoptions in New York, California, and Dallas County.

Gándara and Li’s study is the first to examine, at a national scale, which groups of students benefit most from these programs. Specifically, the study examines how enrollments change at community colleges that are subject to Promise programs, and how effects vary by Promise program design features. The study ends October 2019.

Vialogues at Columbia Teachers College Features Pavlakis’ Research on Homelessness

Assistant Professor Alexandra Pavlakis was interviewed for Vialogues, a video platform designed for Q&A’s, at Columbia Teachers College. The highlighted research was an article published in Teachers College Record, Contextualizing the Impacts of Homelessness on Academic Growth.

She also looks at local implementation of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (McKinney-Vento), which aims to reduce barriers to school success for students experiencing homelessness. She believes scholars often overlook this implementation but may play an important role in explaining inconsistencies between single-site studies.

Click here for her interview.

Pathways to Success Podcast Highlights Dean Knight’s Mission for Simmons

In an interview for Pathways to Success, a podcast hosted by Julian Placino, Dean Stephanie Knight discusses her passion for education and what led her to the top administration post at SMU Simmons.

For her, investing in public schools is important, and her commitment to urban schools made her explore what could be possible in Dallas.

During her first year on the job, she was able to forge a partnership with the Dallas Independent School District and Toyota USA Foundation to develop a K-8th grade STEM-focused school  in West Dallas. Listen to her story here.