Our Experts

AIR’s experts work with education leaders at the state, district, and school levels. We are researchers, evaluators, and technical assistance experts.


” I looked at [AIR’s Early Warning System] as a way to get an idea of who those kids were that were at risk of dropping out. It has expanded into really looking at how schools do their business day to day.”

Michigan Department of
Education Administrator

Dr. Susan Bowles Therriault leads the College and Career Readiness and Success Center at American Institutes for Research. Dr. Therriault has more than 18 years of experience in examining the roles of states and districts in supporting and turning around low-performing schools. She emphasizes the design and implementation of research plans that answer critical policy research questions in order to improve policy, implementation, and outcomes.

Dr. Therriault designs and develops early warning systems to identify at-risk students and conducts studies to improve the implementation and technical support of these systems. She is currently examining the role of early warning indicators in predicting college readiness. Recently, she served as project director for the development of the Massachusetts Early Warning Indicator System Model, which identifies students who are at risk of missing key educational benchmarks from kindergarten through high school. For the past seven years, Dr. Therriault co-led the early warning systems team for the federally funded National High School Center. She codeveloped the center’s free early warning system tool for high school and middle grades; the tool was downloaded more than 20,000 times by state, district, and school administrators from every state in the nation. She is the lead author of the Early Warning System Implementation Guide and has presented at national, state, and district conferences throughout the United States on the topic.

Dr. Therriault holds a doctorate in education policy and leadership from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. She serves as a member at large of the Massachusetts School and District Accountability and Support Advisory Board and serves as a member of her local school board.

Jenny Scala is a Senior Researcher for American Institutes for Research (AIR). Scala is the project manager of AIR’s early warning system services and participates in multiple projects involving her expertise in using data to inform instructional decision-making across the nation. She has been providing technical assistance to educators for more than 15 years. Scala has worked on projects focused on dropout prevention in rural states and districts as well as urban districts. In addition, she participates as a qualitative researcher in a project focused on priority schools in Massachusetts.

Scala has served as a researcher on several Regional Education Laboratories (RELs), including REL West and REL Northeast and the Islands, leading early warning systems work including indicator validation, development of an early warning system tool, and implementation of early warning systems.

Scala has served as a Technical Assistance Liaison for the National High School Center (NHSC) as well as a Technical Assistance Provider for the National Center on Response to Intervention (NCRTI). As a Technical Assistance Provider for the NCRTI, she has provided trainings and professional development opportunities to a number of state, district, and school leadership teams in a number of states on topics pertaining to response to intervention (RTI).

Scala has provided technical assistance to states, districts, schools, and others includes supporting state education agency staff to create new strategies for supporting underperforming districts and schools; assisting states, districts, and schools to support implementation of RTI in secondary schools; aiding states to address high school improvement; and creating statewide frameworks focused on improving adolescent literacy outcomes. She also has worked with districts to provide volunteer training aligned to district curriculum and has provided social-emotional programs to both middle and high school students. Scala holds a B.S. in Learning and Organizational Change from Northwestern University and an M.A. in Education Policy and Management from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.