Meet Meredith Richards

Meredith Richards, PhD                                

Associate Professor

Dr. Richards is an Associate Professor of Education Policy and Leadership in the Simmons School of Education and Human Development. She received her Ph.D. in Educational Policy from the University of Texas at Austin and was an IES Post-doctoral Fellow in Education Policy and Methods at the University of Pennsylvania. She also holds a B.A. in Cognitive Science from the University of Virginia, a M.A. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from George Mason University. At SMU, she is responsible for teaching doctoral coursework in educational research methods.

Dr. Richards’ research seeks to understand the underlying causes of educational inequities and explore the effects of a wide range of educational policies—such as school choice, accountability, and student assignment policies—on equity and stratification in schools. In particular, her work situates policies in their metropolitan and geographic contexts, focusing on the role that educational boundaries play in facilitating social stratification and segregation. In addressing these substantive issues, she seeks to develop and apply diverse quantitative methods to the study of education. Beyond documenting the consequences of educational policies, Dr. Richards seeks to provide actionable research that helps policymakers design effective policies, particularly those that balance the imperative for equity in schools with other educational demands.

In her dissertation, Dr. Richards used geospatial techniques to investigate how educational boundaries have been “gerrymandered” and the consequences of this gerrymandering for equity in schools, for which received the American Educational Research Association Division L Dissertation of the Year Award, Runner Up. Complementing her work on educational boundary gerrymandering, Dr. Richards recently released a study examining the effects of “fragmenting” school district boundaries, including both traditional and charter schools, on changes in segregation over time.

Dr. Richards was recently awarded a Spencer grant to examine urban school closures, attending to both the causes of school closures and the impact of closures on the educational experiences of non-white and socioeconomically disadvantaged students. In addition, she is conducting work on the suburbanization of segregation, the effect of magnet schools on student attendance patterns, and the effects of income inequality on educational attainment and achievement.

Dr. Richards’ research has been published in venues such as the American Educational Research JournalReview of Educational ResearchTeachers College Record, and the Peabody Journal of Education.


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