Dr. Evelyn Johnson named Vice President of Research and Development
Aperture Education, the leading provider of research-based social and emotional learning (SEL) assessments for K-12 schools, is expanding its Research and Development (R&D) department to support product development as the company grows. The expanded department will direct and participate in research that can be translated into meaningful, applicable results for schools and districts. To lead the expanded team, Aperture has hired Dr. Evelyn Johnson, a former professor of special education at Boise State University, as the department’s new vice president.
“Aperture’s primary differentiation is the rigor of the research that goes into developing our products and monitoring their effectiveness. We have been working to expand our R&D capacity to handle the growing demands for SEL in schools and out-of-school time organizations,” said Aperture CEO Jessica Adamson. “Dr. Johnson has a wealth of experience and her vision aligns with our mission as a company. She is a great fit to help advance Aperture’s commitment to data-driven SEL.”
Dr. Johnson is an important part of an impressive R&D team at Aperture which has extensive experience in SEL. As part of the department’s expansion, Aperture also hired Dr. Joseph Mahoney as Senior Research Scientist. Mahoney previously served as assistant professor of psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Superior and senior research scientist at the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL). Matt Buczek also joined the team as Research Associate. He has a master’s of education degree in Statistics, Measurement, Assessment, and Research Technology (SMART) and has been working in the research field for the past five years. Others on the team include Jennifer Robitaille, who has more than a decade of experience in research and evaluation to support SEL programs, Research Assistant Emily Parker, and SEL Strategy Developer Samantha Hagans. The team is supported by well-known SEL experts Paul LeBuffe, Valerie Shapiro, and Jack Naglieri, among others, who serve as long-standing consultants for Aperture.
The DESSA is the industry’s most well-researched SEL universal screener and assessment. It uses a strength-based behavior rating scale that is empirically sound and nationally normed for K-12. Data from the DESSA helps schools and out-of-school time organizations better understand students’ social and emotional skills and provide growth strategies to support their development. The DESSA has been rigorously tested and peer reviewed in more than 130 articles.
Prior to joining Aperture, Johnson was CEO of the Lee Pesky Learning Center in Boise, Idaho. In her roles there and at Boise State University, Johnson’s work has focused on the relationship of social and emotional competence to academic achievement by developing an evidence-based model of self-regulated learning. Johnson also has strong credentials in assessment. She received her doctoral degree from the University of Washington in Special Education and Assessment, and her professional contributions in this area have focused primarily on direct observation systems and their contribution to teacher effectiveness and student outcomes, which complement Aperture’s teacher-completed behavior ratings scales.
“In my work as a teacher and researcher I’ve seen first-hand the importance of SEL, and the importance of assessments to measure growth and outcomes,” said Johnson. “I was drawn to Aperture because of the data-driven work it does. I’m glad to lead this Research and Development team as we support important SEL work.”
The expansion of the R&D team comes amid a period of significant growth for Aperture which in 2021 acquired Ascend to expand its SEL offerings to high schools and became the sole recipient of a contract with the Connecticut State Department of Education to provide its SEL assessment statewide. Aperture has served over 2 million students and 128,000 educators in over 800 school districts.