Social Policy Hub for Equity Research in Education

What We Do

SPHERE engages Rhode Island College students and faculty, in partnership with Rhode Island community members, in conducting and disseminating research for equitable educational and social policies.

Contact Information
SPHERE aspires to be a leading education and social policy institute in Rhode Island. 
SPHERE Director Adrienne Goss

What We Do

As a policy hub, SPHERE connects with Rhode Island’s education stakeholders in multiple spheres of influence by linking research, policy and practice.

Where We “Fit”

SPHERE is housed under the Feinstein School of Education and Human Development (FSEHD) at Rhode Island College. SPHERE helps to fulfill FSEHD’s mission to provide expertise in educational policy, research and professional development to schools, agencies and communities.

Policy Priorities

At SPHERE, we conduct and disseminate research on educational practices and policies that advance equity and justice for Rhode Island’s children. Focusing only on educational practices and policies ignores the systemic societal problems that contribute to educational inequity. Therefore, our work addresses practices and policies in multiple spheres: classrooms and schools, out-of-school spaces, and communities.  ​

Our work began with a focus on K-12 schools during the 2019-2020 academic year. In the 2021-2022 academic year, we will add out-of-school time to our policy agenda, followed by focus on communities in subsequent years. Because of our commitment to the needs of the Rhode Island community, we will adjust as needed so that we can respond to challenges and opportunities as they emerge in the state. 

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Learn How Public Education Operates in Rhode Island

SPHERE is committed to linking research, policy and practice for all of Rhode Island’s education stakeholders. Our Primer is a tool to help Rhode Islanders understand and become more involved in education policy decisions. Each chapter of this primer can stand alone, but together the chapters provide an overview of how public education operates in Rhode Island.

About Sphere


The mission of SPHERE is to engage Rhode Island College students and faculty, in partnership with Rhode Island community members, in conducting and disseminating research for equitable educational and social policies. SPHERE endeavors to help Rhode Islanders understand and become more involved in education policy decisions.


SPHERE aspires to be a leading education and social policy institute in Rhode Island. As a policy hub, SPHERE connects with Rhode Island’s education stakeholders in multiple spheres of influence by linking research, policy and practice.

SPHERE Founding Director

Adrienne Goss is assistant professor of education and social policy at Rhode Island College.  Before relocating to Rhode Island, she was assistant professor and director of teacher education at Ohio Northern University. She has experience as a policy researcher, classroom teacher and director/coordinator of multiple programs for youth in school and out-of-school spaces. Goss graduated from Georgia State University with a Ph.D. in educational policy studies.

SPHERE Panel of Advisors 

Paige Clausius-Parks is responsible for policy analysis, advocacy, research and project management in areas related to education and economic well-being. Prior to joining Rhode Island KIDS COUNT, Paige served as director of advancement; assistant director at Books are Wings; network director at Youth in Action; teacher/advisor at the Metropolitan Regional Career and Technical Center; and program coordinator at Youth Pride, Inc. Clausius-Parks earned at B.A. at Providence College and an M.Ed. at Harvard University.

O’Sha Williams is an education policy advocate originally from Jamaica, Queens, New York. She is currently a fellow in the Office of the Governor developing education policy. Prior to this role, Williams was a high school English teacher for multilingual learners in the Providence Public Schools. Williams collaborates with grassroots organizations and district and state-level leadership in pursuit of lasting and transformational change. She earned an M.A. in urban education policy at Brown University an M.Ed. at Rhode Island College.

Raymond Neirinckx has been coordinator for the State of Rhode Island Housing Resources Commission for 20 years. Neirinckx is very interested in the intersectionality of education and housing/community. He earned an M.A. in community economic development and a B.A. in sociology.

SPHERE 2020-2021 Faculty Fellow

Corinne McKamey is associate professor in RIC's Department of Educational Studies and founding co-director of RIC's B.A. in youth development program. She has been an afterschool youth worker, classroom teacher and charter school authorizer. Her research interest is in understanding the perspectives of young people in afterschool programs, out-of-school time settings and college programs. Her research has focused on youth work, qualitative research and the ways marginalized young people talk about educational care, science/engineering and sex education. McKamey’s current research examines conditions that attract and retain students of color within an undergraduate community education program.

SPHERE 2019-2020 Faculty Fellows

Kalina Brabeck is a licensed psychologist and professor of mental health counseling in RIC's Department of Counseling, Educational Leadership and School Psychology. She is also an affiliated faculty member at the Center for Human Rights & International Justice at Boston College. Her research explores the intersections within socio-structural inequities (e.g., unauthorized immigration status, discrimination), trauma and mental health. For the past 10 years, with funding from the Foundation for Child Development and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, her research has specifically focused on how immigration policies and enforcement affect the wellbeing of Latinx immigrant children, families and communities. She has collaborated with several community partners, including Progreso Latino, the Latino Policy Institute, Sojourner House, the Roger Williams Immigration Law Clinic and the school districts of Providence and Central Falls. She is particularly interested in policies related to immigration and school mental health. 

Janet Johnson is professor of secondary education and site director of the Rhode Island Writing Project at Rhode Island College. She teaches courses in English education, gender and women’s studies, teacher research and qualitative inquiry. With extensive experience working in schools as a researcher and supervisor of teacher candidates, she has engaged in qualitative studies on the intersections of critical literacy, social justice and yoga in schools. Johnson’s current research and policy work investigates recruiting and retaining educators of color and using critical literacies and contemplative practices in the service of teacher empowerment and activism. Her most recent publication is a co-edited volume published by SUNY Press called "Stories of School Yoga: Narratives from the Field."

SPHERE Graduate Assistant

Jordann Plante is earning her M.A. in counseling and C.A.G.S. in school psychology at Rhode Island College. She earned her B.S. in psychology at the University of Rhode Island. She intends to become a school psychologist after graduation.

Educational Equity

Efforts to move beyond student test scores as the main metric of school quality have included the development of equity indicator systems. This review of local, national, and international educational equity indicators provides a research base and recommendations for communities and partners embarking on their own projects of developing equity indicator systems.

An Overview of Educational Equity Indicators for Communities and Their Partners, October 2022

COVID Funding

This one-pager provides highlights from our webinar about the Elementary and Secondary Schools Education Relief (ESSER) Fund.

COVID Relief Funding in Schools, August 2022

Educators of Color

All students benefit from a diverse teacher workforce, but Rhode Island has very few educators of color, even in its most racially diverse school districts. Focus group interviews with Rhode Island educators of color mirrored national studies on the challenges with teacher retention. Policy recommendations include developing a systematic approach to collecting and analyzing data on recruitment, hiring, and retention; investing in welcoming and affirming school climates; and appropriate compensation for educators of color.

Retaining Educators of Color, May 2022

Afterschool Funding

Rhode Island is a leader nationwide in the field of youth development; however, our current out-of-school offerings do not meet statewide demands. As we work toward recovery from the twin pandemics of racism and COVID-19, funding youth development organizations and youth work professionals provides a three-fold recovery investment. This funding will stabilize and boost jobs in the human services sector, provide afterschool childcare so that parents can re-join the workforce and equalize learning gaps made wider by the pandemic.

Funding Rhode Island’s Recovery: Investing in Out-of-School Time, March 2021

Mental Health

Despite the need for mental health supports, the vast majority of youth – particularly nonwhite and low-income youth – do not receive mental health services. Those who do receive help are most likely to access help within their schools. While the main mission of schools is to educate students, the data is clear: investing in school mental health staff improves academic and behavioral outcomes for youth.

School-Based Mental Health Support for Rhode Island Youth: Policy Recommendations to Address Students’ Exposure to Adverse Childhood Experiences, December 2020

This fact sheet highlights key findings from our full policy publication – "School-Based Mental Health Support for Rhode Island Youth."

School-Based Mental Health Support, May 2021