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Terri J. Sabol

Terri J. Sabol

  • Associate Professor, Human Development and Social Policy
  • Fellow, Institute for Policy Research

Affiliated Center(s)

Institute for Policy Research

Research Interests

Individual and environmental factors that lead to healthy child development.


Terri J. Sabol’s research focuses on the individual and environmental factors that lead to healthy child development, with a particular emphasis on schools and families. She applies developmental theory, psychological measurement, and advanced quantitative methods to pressing social policy issues that affect low-income children and families. In particular, she focuses on two key policy areas: (1) assessing and improving early childhood education; and (2) increasing families’ human capital, including parent education, employment, and income. The broad goal of her research is to generate dynamic theories of change, measure complex social processes, and analyze data with advanced statistical techniques to produce innovative, functional scholarship aimed at improving the lives of children living with economic hardship.

Prior to entering graduate school, Terri Sabol was a first-grade teacher in Chicago through the Teach for America program. She received her doctorate in applied development science from the University of Virginia and was a postdoctoral fellow at Northwestern University’s Institute for Policy Research. She is currently a faculty associate for the Institute for Policy Research. She is also the director of the Development, Early Education, and Policy (DEEP) lab. 


  • PhD, Applied Development Science, University of Virginia, 2011
  • BA, Psychology and English, University of Michigan, 2004

Awards and Honors

  • 2017 – AERA-SRCD Early Career Fellow in Early Childhood Education and Development

Select Publications

Sabol, T. J. Busby, A. K.*, & Hernandez, M. (2021). A critical gap in early childhood policies: Children’s meaning making. Translational Issues in Psychological Science. Advance online publication. doi:10.1037/tps0000241

 Sabol, T. J., Sommer, T. E., Chase-Lansdale, P. L., & Brooks-Gunn, J. (2021).  Intergenerational economic mobility for low-income parents and their children: A dual developmental science framework. Annual Review of Psychology, 72, 265-92.doi:10.1146/annurev-psych-010419-051001

Sabol, T. J., Ross, E.*, & Frost, A.* (2019). Are all Head Start classrooms created equal?: The relation between within-center classroom quality and child outcomes. American Education Research Journal57(2), 504-534. doi:10.3102/0002831219858920

Sabol, T. J., Sommer, T. E., Sanchez, A.*, & Busby, A.* (2018). A new approach to defining and measuring family engagement in early childhood education program. AERA Open, 4(3), 1-12. doi:10.1177/2332858418785904

Sabol, T. J., Bohlmann, N., & Downer, J. (2018). Low-income ethnically diverse children’s engagement as a predictor of school readiness above preschool classroom quality.Child Development.

Sabol, T. J. & Till-Hoyt, L. (2017). The ‘long arm’ of childhood: The effect of preschool on adolescent physical health.Developmental Psychology: 752-763.

Sabol, T.J. & Chase-Lansdale, P. L. (2015). The influence of low-income children’s participation in Head Start on their parents’ education and employment. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management.

Sabol, T. J. & Pianta, R. C. (2014). Do standard measures of preschool quality used in statewide policy predict school readiness?. Education, Finance and Policy: 116-164.

Sabol. T. J., Hong, S. S., Pianta, R. C., & Burchinal, M.R. (August, 2013). Can rating pre-k programs predict school readiness?Science: 845-846.

Sabol, T. J. & Pianta, R. C. (2012). Patterns of school readiness forecast achievement and socioemotional development at the end of elementary school. Child Development83, 282-299. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8624.2011.01678.x