Sarah Ryan Staff Photo


Sarah Ryan, PhD, is an education researcher who specializes in college and career readiness and success, English learner education, and group-level disparities in educational opportunities and outcomes.

Ryan has applied her expertise in policy research and program evaluation, including specific expertise in research design and quantitative methodology, to collaborations with the U.S. Department of Education, state and local education agencies, and community colleges. She is the principal investigator on a multi-year study investigating variability in student exposure to key principles of student-centered learning, with funding from Jobs for the Future. She is also the principal investigator for several studies with the REL Northeast & Islands research alliances, including the Northeast College and Career Readiness Alliance.

A former teacher and school administrator, Ryan is also a certified reviewer for the What Works Clearinghouse. She received a BA in education and Spanish from Edgewood College, an MS in English language acquisition and bilingual education from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a PhD in education policy from the University of California-Riverside.

"Preparing each and every youth for success is one of the foremost responsibilities—and challenges—we face as a society. We must work with practitioners, policymakers, and other stakeholders to meet this challenge."

Speaking Highlights

The Competency-Based Learning Survey for Students: Collaborative Survey Development at REL Northeast & Islands

Invited presentation, Perspectives on the Current Landscape of Competency-Based Learning Research
Waltham, MA
September 2016

Competency-Based Education and College Admissions

Panel moderator, Fall Meeting of the New Hampshire School Administrators Association
Concord, NH
September 2016

Engaging Families of English Language Learners with Disabilities

Paper presentation, Annual Meeting of the Massachusetts Association of Teachers of Speakers of Other Languages
Framinham, MA
May 2016

Selected Publications

Ryan, S., & Cox, J. (2017, March). Investigating student exposure to competency-based education. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 25(24).

Ryan, S., & Cox, J. (2016). Guide to the competency-based learning survey for students. (REL 2016–165). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Regional Educational Laboratory Northeast & Islands.

Ryan, S., Kaufman, J., Greenhouse, J., She, R., & Shi, J. (2016). The effectiveness of blended online learning courses at the community college level. Community College Journal of Research and Practice, 40(4), 285–298.

Ryan, S., & Ream, R.K. (2016). Variation Across Hispanic Immigrant Generations in Parent Social Capital, College-Aligned Actions, and Four-Year College Enrollment. American Educational Research Journal, 53(4), 953–986.