Robert C. Pianta is Dean of the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia. He also holds positions as the Novartis Professor of Education, Founding Director of the Curry School’s Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning (CASTL), Professor of Psychology at the UVa College of Arts & Sciences, and Director of the National Center for Research in Early Childhood Education.
Pianta’s research and policy interests focus on teacher-student interactions and relationships and on the improvement of teachers’ contributions to students’ learning and development. He is the author of more than 250 articles, 50 book chapters, and 10 books, and has been a principal investigator on research and training grants totaling over $55 million. He served as the editor of the Journal of School Psychology from 1999 to 2007.
Among other research measures and instruments, Pianta is the creator of an observational assessment of teacher-student interactions known as the Classroom Assessment Scoring System™ or CLASS, with versions for use with infants through twelfth grade students, all of which have been shown to capture features of teacher-student interactions that contribute to learning and development. CLASS is used by every Head Start program in the country, affecting 50,000 teachers and over half a million students.
Pianta has also developed a series of proven-effective professional development supports engineered to improve teachers’ effectiveness in the classroom. Called MyTeachingPartner™ or MTP, these supports include a web-mediated approach to individualized coaching on teacher-student interactions, a video library of effective interactions, and a college course.
After receiving a B.S. and M.A. in Special Education from the University of Connecticut, Pianta began his career as a special education teacher. Upon completing a Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Minnesota, he joined the University of Virginia faculty in 1986. A nationally recognized expert in both early childhood education and k-12 teaching and learning, Pianta regularly consults with federal agencies, foundations, and universities.