Professor and Doctoral Program Coordinator

Dr. Callahan's primary research interests center on the academic experiences of immigrant-origin, language minority adolescents as they transition from high school into young adulthood. She is presently involved in several research projects that explore the effects of school context, social and academic processes, and teachers' pedagogical practices on the academic and civic development of immigrant-origin, potential bilingual students. She specializes in the intersection of educational policy with both language and immigrant/immigration policies.

Dr. Callahan recently completed an NSF-DRK-12 project, Design Technology in Engineering Education for English Learner Students (DTEEL) exploring bilingual elementary students’ problem-solving potential using engineering education. Other strands of her research examine the effects of English as a second language (ESL) placement on college preparatory achievement outcomes among language minority adolescents; primary language use and college-going among language minority students; and school context and academic preparation on the political participation of immigrant young adults. She has published in Educational Researcher, American Educational Research Journal, Educational Policy, Social Science Quarterly, Theory and Research in Social Education, and the American Journal of Education.



Callahan, R.M. & Muller, C. (2013). Coming of Political Age: American Schools and the Civic Development of Immigrant Youth. Russell Sage Foundation: New York, NY.

Callahan, R.M. & Gándara, P.C. (Eds.). (2014). The Bilingual Advantage: Language, Literacy, and the U.S. Labor Market. Multilingual Matters: Clevedon, U.K.

Select Recent Peer-reviewed Articles 

Callahan, R.M., Mayer, A.P., Johnson, A., & Ochoa, C. (2021). Exploring organizational leadership for English learner equity: Teachers’ and leaders’ understandings of culturally responsive practices through professional development. Leadership & Policy in Schools. Online First:

Hartman, C.E., Callahan, R.M., & Yu, H. (2021). Optimizing intent to transfer: Engagement and community college English learners. Research in Higher Education. Online First:

Callahan, R.M., Gautsch, L., Hopkins, M.B., & Unda, M. (2021). Equity and state immigrant inclusivity: English learner education in ESSA. Educational Policy. Online First:

Callahan, R.M., Humphries, M., & Buontempo, J. (2021). Making meaning, doing Math: High school English learners, student-led discussion, and Math tracking. International Multilingual Research Journal, 15(1), 82-103.

DeMatthews, D., Knight, D., Reyes, P., Benedict, A., & Callahan, R.M. (2020). From the field: Educational research during a pandemic. Educational Researcher, 49 (6) 398-402.

Umansky, I., Callahan, R.M. & Lee, J.C. (2020). Making the invisible visible: Identifying and interrogating ethnic differences in English learner reclassification. American Journal of Education 126(3), 335-388.

Callahan, R.M., DeMatthews, D., & Reyes, P. (2019). The impact of Brown on EL students: Addressing linguistic and educational rights through school leadership practice and preparation. Journal of Research in Leadership Education,14(4), 281-307.

Hurie, A.H. & Callahan, R.M. (2019). Integration as perpetuation: Learning from race-evasive approaches to ESL program reform. Teachers College Record, 121 (9), 1-38.

Callahan, R.M. & Hopkins, M. (2018). Using ESSA to improve secondary English learners’ opportunities to learn through course taking. Journal of School Leadership, 27(5), 756-767.

Callahan, R.M. & Shifrer, D. (2016). Equitable access for secondary English learner students: Course taking as evidence of EL program effectiveness. Educational Administration Quarterly, 52 (3), 463-496.

Callahan, R.M. & Humphries, M. (2016). Undermatched? School-based linguistic status, college-going, and the immigrant advantage. American Educational Research Journal, 53 (2), 263-295.

Callahan, R.M. & Obenchain, K.M. (2016). Garnering civic hope: Social studies, expectations, and the lost civic potential of immigrant youth. Theory and Research in Social Education, 44 (1), 36-71.

Awards and Recognition

  • Mid Career Researcher Award, Second Language Research Special Interest Group (SIG), American Educational Research Association (2020)
  • Reviewer Award, American Educational Research Journal (2014)
  • Early Career Researcher Award, Bilingual Education Research Special Interest Group (SIG), American Educational Research Association (2011)

Associations and Affiliations

  • Associate Editor, American Educational Research Journal (AERJ)
  • Editorial Board Member, International Multilingual Research Journal (IMRJ)
  • Member, American Educational Research Association (AERA)
  • Member, University Council of Educational Administration (UCEA)
Rebecca Callahan

Areas of Expertise and/or Research

  • Educational Policy
  • English Learner (EL) Education
  • Immigrant Students' Civic Development 
  • STEM Pathways
  • K-12 High School to College Transitions


  • Ph.D., Education, University of California, Davis
  • M.A., Education, University of California, Davis
  • Bilingual Cross-Cultural K-16 teacher certification (BCC), University of California, San Diego
  • B.A., Anthropology, University of California, San Diego


Office Location:

Waterman 453