Brenna Rivas

Research Assistant Professor


Department of Teaching & Learning


Ph.D., Southern Methodist University


6116 N. Central Expressway
Suite 1010
Dallas, 75206



Brenna Rivas, Ph.D., serves as a Research Assistant Professor in the Simmons School of Education and Human Development. Dr. Rivas earned her doctorate in Education from SMU in 2011 and holds an M.Ed. in Education from SMU and B.A. in Early Childhood Education from Clemson University. She is the Co-Principal Investigator on the OELA-funded Project Connect, a professional development grant supporting pre- and in-service teachers in obtaining their ESL supplemental certification. Brenna also serves as Research Director for the IES-funded Project FOCUS identifying variables associated with outcomes for students in Tier 3 or in special education with reading disabilities (RD) within Response to Intervention frameworks and for the NIH-funded Project Mindset grant that seeks to examine a reading intervention for fourth grade students with reading disabilities that integrates the psychosocial component of mindset with the academic component of reading.

Dr. Rivas previously served as Research Director for two IES-funded projects examining the technical accuracy of assessments and efficacy of curricula used in identifying and serving young children at-risk or who may be at later risk for reading difficulties or disabilities. Dr. Rivas previously worked on an evaluation team examining the impact of community service on the school readiness of young English learners in a low-income community.

As a former Head Start, kindergarten, and first grade teacher, as well as preschool administrator, Dr. Rivas is particularly interested in fostering the development of young learners. Her research examines various intervention strategies and assessments for helping children develop vocabulary and early reading skills. She developed and implemented a technology-enhanced vocabulary intervention for bilingual preschools and has mentored teachers in effective instructional integration of technology. She has published in the areas of reading intervention and assessment, technology-mediated learning environments, multimedia-based strategies for vocabulary development with ELs, the use of technology in writing, and assessment strategies in program evaluation.