Susan Bowles Therriault

Institute Fellow

Susan Bowles Therriault is an Institute Fellow at AIR focusing on AIR’s K-12 Systemic Improvement Portfolio of work. For over 20 years, she has led and conducted research that focuses on state and federal education efforts to build the capacity of high-needs districts and schools to improve outcomes and increase opportunity for students. 

As a researcher, Dr. Therriault emphasizes the design and implementation of research plans that answer critical policy research questions, in order to improve policy, implementation and outcomes. She is at the forefront of exploring strategies to support K-12 education systems and their communities facing pandemic-like disruptions brought about by natural disasters, climate change and other catastrophic events. Additionally, she is focused on ensuring states and districts use existing strategies and funding streams to enhance and continually improve educational outcomes.

Currently, she is the principal investigator of the Research on Education Strategies to Advance Recovery and Turnaround (RESTART) Network focusing on identifying and building evidence-based strategies that support students’ academic recovery in the aftermath of the pandemic funded by the U.S. Department of Education Institute for Education Sciences. Additionally, she serves as co-principal investigator of the COVID-19 and Equity in Education project funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, focusing on building a field of research on building community resilience and remaking systems that perpetuate racism in the face of pandemic-like events in communities serving Black and Latino students and students experiencing poverty. Finally, she leads an Education Innovation Research Mid-Phase Grant focused on scaling an Early Warning Intervention Monitoring System designed to improve student engagement, attendance and graduation.

For eight years, Dr. Therriault led, designed, and implemented the Massachusetts school and district quality reviews and needs assessments, now expanded to Illinois. Her thoughtful leadership of this effort contributed to the design of a system that allows the state, districts and schools to make data driven decisions to support schools identified for improvement. In addition, by applying research methods to the monitoring processes, Dr. Therriault ensured that data collected are valid and reliable across school sites and over time. In turn, this has allowed for several research studies that establish key evidence for improvement strategies including: a study of the relationship between school ratings and classroom observation results and student outcomes. 

Dr. Therriault leads projects focusing on using data to develop and build evidence-based school improvement strategies for state systems of support in Massachusetts and Texas. Dr. Therriault is the former director of several federally funded technical assistance centers, including the Region 1 Comprehensive Center, providing support to Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont and the federal College and Career Readiness and Success (CCRS) Center. Dr. Therriault leads a Northeast and Islands Regional Education Laboratory partnership with the Massachusetts state education agency conducting research on high leverage instructional and school level strategies for improving schools and student outcomes. Dr. Therriault is also an advisor on the Southwest Regional Education Laboratory partnership with Texas, focusing on research to improve the state’s system of support for the lowest performing schools.

In the past, she led several research projects focused on state systems of support schools identified for improvement and early warning system implementation, as well as a national study focused on the implementation of Title I and an IES study focused on the implementation of School Improvement Grants. She is currently an executive committee board member of the Knowledge Alliance and a member of the Massachusetts Conditions of Education Task Force. She served for six years as a member-at-large of the Massachusetts School and District Accountability and Support Advisory Board and for seven years on her local school board. Her work has been cited by NPR’s Marketplace, The Washington Post, and many others.

Susan Therriault

Ed.D. and M.Ed., Education Policy and Leadership, University of Massachusetts - Amherst