ISA Welcomes Keith Look, Daryl Johnson, and Sam Rikoon

By Abner Oakes

ISA's Director of Outreach


Today, the Institute for Student Achievement (ISA) welcomed two new hires and appointed a research liaison:

Mr. Daryl Johnson was named Associate Director of Bidding and Scoping. He most recently worked as a Proposal Development Manager for ETS’s Strategic Bidding and Scoping group, managing proposal development activities for various ETS business units, including ISA. He joined ETS in January 2012 as a member of the Jumpstart Professional Work Fellow Program. Before coming to ETS, Daryl was a student at Suffolk University Law School in Boston, MA where he specialized in education advocacy through Suffolk Law’s Juvenile Justice Center. His other practice area experience includes juvenile defense and government whistleblower advocacy. Prior work experience also includes teaching at the elementary school level in Boston Public Schools. In addition to a J.D., he holds a B.S. in Business Administration – Marketing from Boston College.

Dr. Keith Look, ISA’s new Senior Director of Programs for District Services, began his educational tenure as a middle school teacher in west Baltimore. Throughout his career he has fostered learning opportunities in challenging environments as a principal in both Philadelphia and Louisville (middle and high school levels). His turnaround work at the Academy @ Shawnee, documented in Education Week and celebrated by then US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, applied a therapeutic approach to school reform and debunked the myth that only new teachers would fill vacancies at such schools. As superintendent, he led the Danville (KY) Independent School District and supported it in reaching new plateaus of student engagement, well-being, and achievement. He holds a doctorate in education policy and practice from the University of Pennsylvania.

Dr. Sam Rikoon serves as the research lead for ISA, where his efforts concentrate on developing and implementing the organization’s research agenda. He is also a Research Scientist in the Student and Teacher Research center at ETS. This agenda focuses on developing ISA’s data and holistic assessment resources as well as designing and conducting empirical studies of ISA’s work with schools to help achieve its mission and improve its effectiveness. He also works to build research partnerships with external organizations and develop grant proposals to examine the scope and impact of ISA’s work. He led the development of the High School SuccessNavigator® assessment currently used in ISA schools and has extensive experience conducting research on social emotional learning constructs and their relationships with students’ behavioral and academic outcomes. He received his Ph.D. in policy research, evaluation, and measurement from the University of Pennsylvania.

“The passion and commitment that Keith, Daryl, and Sam bring to this work will accelerate ISA’s mission to close long-standing equity gaps by strengthening its partnerships, deepening the support systems for students and educators, and expanding its reach so more students are on the path to a promising future,” said Stephanie Wood-Garnett, president of ISA.

“In the modern era of college and career readiness, ISA is uniquely positioned to translate that agenda into real results for even the most reluctant learner because its all-star team has been doing this work long before it had a hashtag,” Look said. “Momentum builds with ISA’s targeted scaffold of instructional and developmental assistance — assistance that takes all students to and through post-secondary success. I’m honored to be part of an organization whose commitment to equity underpins every decision, action, and initiative.”

“For the past six years,” added Johnson, “I’ve had the pleasure of supporting ISA’s efforts to expand its network of partner schools and districts. During that time, I’ve observed firsthand the dramatic impact ISA’s suite of services can have when implemented. I’ve also witnessed the passion and dedication of the ISA team, and I’m excited to join that dynamic group of equity warriors.”

For nearly 30 years, ISA has partnered with schools and districts to transform schools so that students who are traditionally underserved and underperforming graduate prepared for success in college and careers. ISA’s work is designed so that all students, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, socioeconomic status, class, linguistic diversity, and exceptionality are given intentional and equitable opportunities to learn and excel. In its work with schools and districts, ISA uses a capacity-building approach to address problems of practice and to focus on continuous improvement. Find more information at its website, https://www.studentachievement.org/.