Bonnie Solomon, PhD, is a research scientist on the Child Trends education team and collaborates with colleagues in early childhood. Dr. Solomon is passionate about improving academic and behavioral outcomes for low-income youth and youth of color through high quality research to inform education and early childhood policies and practices. For the past fifteen years, she has conducted school-based research across the developmental spectrum, from preschools to postsecondary institutions, focusing on school climate, discipline policies and practices, social-emotional learning programs, school-based mental health supports, kindergarten readiness, and college success.
Dr. Solomon was recently selected as a 2020 Young Scholar by the Foundation for Child Development. With this funding from the Foundation for Child Development, she is currently principal investigator of a study examining implementation of a 2017 Maryland law that prohibits suspension and expulsion in early childhood settings. She also provides leadership and expertise in qualitative research across a range of other projects, including a study funded by Kaiser Permanente that explores health-related drivers of chronic absenteeism in Washington, DC; an implementation evaluation of a school climate framework in DC public and public charter schools, funded by the National Institute of Justice; a study being conducted in partnership with the DC Department of Behavioral Health, to evaluate the expansion of comprehensive school behavioral health supports in DC and promote continuous quality improvement; and a Child Care Research Partnership grant from the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, to understand how a set of recent Maryland policies, regulations, and initiatives have affected low-income families’ equitable access to high-quality care in Maryland.
Dr. Solomon previously served as qualitative lead researcher for a study funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, exploring state policymaker, educator, and student perspectives on healthy schools and perceived gaps in current practice. She also led a multi-site implementation evaluation of a Social Innovation Fund initiative designed to improve school readiness among low-income children. Additionally, she was project director for a study conducted in partnership with Partners for Breakfast in the Classroom, to understand the role that schools play in addressing hunger and healthy eating in rural Southern communities.
Prior to joining Child Trends in 2017, Dr. Solomon held a postdoctoral research position at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she served as lead evaluator for several college-community partnerships that supported first-generation students during the transition to college. She did this work as part of a research team dedicated to understanding and improving undergraduate student success, with a focus on the role of non-academic competencies (e.g., sense of belonging, academic self-efficacy, motivation, and self-regulated learning) in both college readiness and completion.
Dr. Solomon is currently developing research proposals to study effective strategies for preparing teachers to foster students’ social-emotional development, based on her PhD dissertation, which highlighted a lack of attention to this development during pre-service teacher education.