J. Kessa Roberts

Postdoctoral Fellow

J. Kessa Roberts

Department of Education Policy & Leadership


Ph.D., The Ohio State University


3101 University Blvd Ste. 345
Box 750114
Dallas, TX 75275



Dr. Roberts is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Education Policy and Leadership department in the Simmons School of Education and Human Development at Southern Methodist University (SMU). She holds a Ph.D. from The Ohio State University, an M.S. in Psychology and a Certification in School Psychology from Millersville University, and a B.A. in Psychology from The Templeton Honors College at Eastern University. Prior to her doctoral studies, Dr. Roberts was a school psychologist in several high-needs school districts in Pennsylvania.

Dr. Roberts’ research on education policy implementation often employs qualitative methods and focuses on the social context of education policy and practice. Her research agenda contains three strands: school-family-community partnerships, student homelessness, and education leadership, particularly in the face of natural disasters and other crises. Across all three strands of her research agenda, Dr. Roberts’ work prioritizes ameliorating educational inequity and often focuses on high-needs rural and urban contexts.

Dr. Roberts, along with Dr. Alexandra Pavlakis and Dr. Meredith Richards, Assistant Professor and Associate Professor, respectively, in the Education Policy and Leadership department, recently received a Spencer Foundation grant to examine how COVID-19, amidst ongoing recovery efforts from Hurricane Harvey, is impacting student homelessness in Houston, Texas. This mixed methods research employs a novel geospatial qualitative approach to examine the ways in which school- and district-level personnel and community service providers support students and families experiencing homelessness.

For more information on her research, teaching, and service please see: http://kessaroberts.academia.edu

Selected Publications

Peer-Reviewed Publications

Allen, A., & Roberts, J. K. (2018). Space and place in rural program implementation: A look at two Early College programs in Ohio. The Rural Educator, 40(1), 29-44.

Roberts, J. K. (2017). Meeting needs or exacerbating barriers: The role of Ohio’s early college policy in rural students’ college enrollment and persistence. Texas Education Review, 5(1), 40-52.

Allen, A., & Roberts, J. K. (2017). Evaluating implementation of the early college model through a theory of change. International Journal of Educational Reform, 26(3), 250-257.

Stringfield, S., Dariotis, J. K., Plano Clark, V. L., Farley, A. N., Allen, A., Carr, K., Morrison, A., West, J. A., Roberts, J. K., Sellers, G. (2017). Successes and cautionary notes from a two-year study of the Ohio Network of Education Transformation. International Journal of Educational Reform, 26(3), 209-223.

Roberts, J. K. (2016). The ethics of conferring parental advantage: A question of parental liberty versus societal equality. Philosophical Studies in Education, 47, 140-148.

Non-Refereed Publications and Media Contributions

Pavlakis, A.E., Richards, M.P., Roberts, J. K., & Pierce, M. (2020, April 15). Examining complexity in student homelessness: The educational outcomes of HISD’s homeless students. Houston Education Research Consortium/Rice Kinder Institute for Urban Research.

Judge, M. (2020, March 8). A Washington plan that would have hurt rural Texas schoolkids get expelled. Dallas Morning News. https://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/editorials/2020/03/08/a-washington-plan-that-would-have-hurt-rural-texas-schoolkids-gets-expelled/