We’re dedicated to building teacher capacity to grow and make a difference in the lives of disadvantaged students.

The SchoolWorks Lab Organization

The Mission

The mission of The SchoolWorks Lab, Inc. is to bridge the gaps between teachers, parents, researchers, administrators, and policymakers by conducting and distributing research filled with common understandings, clear findings, and coherent policy, resulting in greater learning for all students.

The Lab

The Lab researches school reform data and conclusions to provide answers to questions on relevant topics useful to the general public and the field of education.

The Partnership

The SchoolWorks Lab, Inc. actively partners with students, teachers, schools, organizations, school districts, states, countries and international organizations to improve education and restore hope to teaching and learning.

Robert A. Southworth, Jr., Ed.D.​

Meet the Founder

Robert A. Southworth, Jr., Ed.D.

Founder and President, The SchoolWorks Lab, Inc.

Rob Southworth is an arts education scholar-practitioner, collaborating with schools, school districts, and community-based organizations. He also works with policymakers at national research forums, state departments of education, and legislators in Washington, DC. Southworth is the founder and president of The SchoolWorks Lab (SWL), an education non-profit created in 2002 to provide high-quality research to effect change and improve access, inclusion and equity for every student in K-12 schools. SWL has been awarded multiple U.S. Department of Education and state funded arts education grants for research and evaluation, totaling $1,245,000. He writes and publishes weekly blogs on school reform, assessment, creativity and arts education issues.

Southworth was a political science and theater major in college. He started his career in education as an apprentice teacher at Shady Hill School in Cambridge, MA, and then taught technical theater and acting at Colorado Academy—producing 9 plays a year. He worked in professional theater at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco and the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. When he attended the Experienced Teachers Program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, he brought the idea of performance assessment with him. Theater had confirmed his belief that experiential learning opportunities, such as the arts, support creativity as students demonstrate what they know and can do. Through his work with the National Center for Restructuring Education Schools and Teaching, and teaching in graduate schools of education, he honed his ability to improve teacher learning. In his role as the Chief Academic Officer for a successful K-3 arts integrated literacy school, he turned his vision – of building teacher capacity to grow and make a difference in the lives of disadvantaged students – into reality.

Professional Experience

Center for Creative Education

Northwood Village, Palm Beach County, FL (2019–21)

Chief Academic Officer involved with all aspects of academic planning and operations for The Foundations School, a new K-3 independent school offering small classroom sizes, free tuition (85% of students qualify for free and reduced lunch), and a central focus on arts integration and literacy (opened January 2021).

  • Responsible for recruiting and hiring the education team of principal, teachers, teaching assistants and teaching artists, and lead bi-weekly professional development seminars. Recruited Advisory Board from three local universities and partnered with them to create a teacher growth model. Designed Creativity Rubric to more accurately assess creative mindset and a schedule for continuous assessment to drive instructional interventions. Developed an arts integrated curriculum linking core content and arts concepts resulting in increased reading proficiency and academic achievement:

    • 9% of students read on grade level at enrollment, January 2021
    • 40% of students attained grade-level reading proficiency within 6 months, by June 2021
    • Average gain was 6.8 reading levels for students attaining reading proficiency

  • Developed and launched literacy focused, in-person, academic summer program, Northwood Academy, in direct response to the Covid-19 pandemic (June-August 2020). Only 16% of the students read on grade level when they arrived, and after 8 weeks in the program, 49% read on grade level.

The SchoolWorks Lab, Inc.

Registered non-profit in New York State (2002–present)

President and Principal Investigator for research and evaluation projects that provide achievement gap insights useful to policy makers, the field of education, and the general public. SWL provides arts integration program evaluation, assessment, student achievement and teacher professional development services. Major research and evaluation projects include:

  • Principal Investigator for three-year evaluation of the Center for Creative Education arts integration programs in high poverty, at-risk schools in Palm Beach County, FL (2016-19). Designed instruments for data collection, evaluation of teaching artists and implementation of mentor system with the following outcomes:

    • 69% of students met or exceeded target growth in language arts scores
    • 52% of students improved arts learning
    • 44% of students improved self-efficacy (personal belief in ability to succeed)

  • Principal investigator for Arts in Education Model Development and Dissemination (AEMDD) grants awarded to Rochester City School District, in Rochester, NY (2011-15). Study measured the effect of arts integration with 34,000 disadvantaged students, and found teachers overwhelmingly endorsed “job-embedded, peer-to-peer, professional development” resulting in:

    • 41.4% increase in New York State ELA test scores
    • 38.0% increase in New York State Math test scores
    • Evaluation design received perfect marks from U.S. Department of Education

  • Evaluator for New York State Council for the Arts, grants awarded to 100+ New York State arts organizations to improve gathering, examination and analysis of arts research data, (2002-06). Created a Web-based solution to display K-12 student work from arts-in-education school partnerships.

  • Principal investigator for Arts in Education Model Development and Dissemination (AEMDD) grants, awarded to the Brooklyn Philharmonic Education Department, Brooklyn, NY (2003–06). Academic performance improved on traditional standardized tests in English Language Arts, Math and traditional music.

Consulting Projects

New Hampshire Department of Education (2019); NYC Department of Education (2008–09); Theater Communications Group (2006-10); Theatre Museum (2004–06); Empire State Partnerships (2003–09); New York State Council for the Arts (2002-08); San Diego Public Schools – Literacy Institute (2001-03); NYC Community School District 2 (1998–99); School of the Future (1995-2001); Rockefeller Brothers Fund (1996); New York State Education Department (1994-96); and more.

Academic Appointments

Teachers College, Columbia University, Adjunct Assistant Professor, C&T Depart. (1998-2004)

Bank Street College of Education, Adjunct Professor, Principal’s Institute (1998-2002)

Adelphi University Graduate School of Education, Adjunct Professor, Manhattan Center (1996–99)


Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University. Curriculum and Teaching Department. Advisor: Linda Darling-Hammond, Ed.D. Dissertation: Teacher Opinion of Student Assessment (1999)

C.A.S., Harvard Graduate School of Education. Experienced Teachers Program. Advisor: Eleanor Duckworth, Ph.D. (1990)

M.Ed., Tufts University. Masters in Secondary Education (1990)

Massachusetts Teacher Certification. Certification in Social Studies, Grades 7-12 (1983)

Shady Hill School. Teacher Training Program. Apprentice Teacher, Grades 5 & 8 (1983)

A.B., Dartmouth College. Political Science. Academic citations for English and Theater (1981)

Get to Know Rob!

References, additional research reports, and other publications are available upon request.