News and notes for Summer 2018 edition of Learning Connections

U.S. News graduate School ratings 2019 graphicNews and Notes

School of Education shines in latest
U.S. News ‘Best Graduate Schools’ rankings

Several programs within UW–Madison’s School of Education are once again ranked among the very best in the nation in the 2019 edition of U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Education Graduate Schools” report.

U.S. News revealed in March that the School is home to three No. 1-ranked programs in the “education specialties” of Curriculum/Instruction, Educational Psychology and Administration/Supervision. In all, the School of Education is home to eight different graduate programs that are ranked among the Top 10 in the nation.

Moreover, in U.S. News’ Best Education Graduate Schools ratings, the UW–Madison School of Education is ranked No. 2 overall, in a tie with Harvard University.

To calculate its rankings, U.S. News surveyed 385 institutions, with 267 providing information that was used to calculate rankings based on a series of measures. The ratings are also based on evaluations from peer institutions, in addition to input from education leaders outside of universities, such as K–12 superintendents and people who hire graduates.

In U.S. News’ education specialty ratings, UW–Madison’s Department of Curriculum and Instruction has been home to the No. 1-ranked Curriculum/Instruction program every year since 2001. In the Educational Psychology rankings, UW–Madison has housed the top-ranked program seven times in the past eight years.

Counseling Psychology Training Clinic honored
for delivering culturally relevant counseling services

The Counseling Psychology Training Clinic (CPTC), which is housed within the School of Education’s Department of Counseling Psychology, in March received a national honor for a unique partnership with UW–Madison’s Division of Diversity, Equity and Educational Achievement (DDEEA).

The program, which increases access to psychological services for underrepresented students, received the Clinic Innovation Award for 2018 in March from the Association of Psychology Training Clinics (APTC).

Members of UW-Madison's Counseling Psychology Training Clinic
Members of UW-Madison's award-winning Counseling
Psychology Training Clinic include (top row, left-to-right)
Stephanie Graham, Tyson Pankey, Ivan Cabrera, Mun Yuk
Chin, (bottom row, left-to-right) Alyssa Ramirez Stege and
Elizabeth Martinez.
“Our partnership with the Counseling Psychology Training Clinic has made a profound impact on the lives of talented underrepresented students at UW– Madison,” says Gloria Hawkins, the assistant vice provost and Chancellors/Powers Knapp Scholars director with DDEEA. “The partnership has provided extraordinary mental health services, especially to our students of color who, in the past, have been very reluctant to seek mental health services.”

The CPTC aims to offer high-quality, cost-efficient and multiculturally competent psychological and mental health services to students and residents of Madison and the surrounding areas. As the name implies, the center is a training facility that is staffed by licensed psychologists who supervise master’s and doctoral students in the Department of Counseling Psychology.

The training clinic works closely with several DDEEA-led programs for underrepresented students who have been recruited to UW–Madison via both merit- and need-based scholarships. The CPTC utilizes advanced doctoral students from the counseling psychology program who identify as underrepresented students in the role of “community support specialists.” These doctoral students work closely with the DDEEA scholarship program coordinators to serve the scholarship students. This “embedded therapist” model is often used for university athletes or other specialty campus groups.

Thanks to the partnership, 35 percent of the students utilizing the training clinic are first-generation college students and 58 percent identify as students of color.

“Our psychologists in training are being given the opportunity to enhance their clinical competence via work with a caseload comprised of underrepresented students,” says Stephanie Graham, a clinical associate professor with the Department of Counseling Psychology and the director of the Counseling Psychology Training Clinic. “It’s a valuable training experience for all students in our department.”

SoE Bookshelf

‘The Gender Effect’

Kathryn Moeller, an assistant professor with the Department of Educational Policy Studies, first SoE Bookshelfstarted looking into efforts by major corporations and their foundations to support girls and young women in Latin America, Africa and Asia more than a decade ago.

At the time, several global brands, such as Nike and ExxonMobil, were getting behind theories promoted by some economists in the early 1990s that considered investing in girls’ and women’s education to be the most efficient way to end poverty and promote development.

But Moeller’s extensive research examining these efforts shows that investing in girls and women in such a way is no “silver bullet” for ending poverty — and sometimes such initiatives do more harm than good. Her work was released in a new book in February titled, “The Gender Effect: Capitalism, Feminism, and the Corporate Politics of Development.”

‘Race and Education in New Orleans’

Walter Stern, an assistant professor with the Department of Educational Policy Studies, has spent most of his academic career focusing on the historical intersection of race and education in the urban United States.

And in May his new book, “Race and Education in New Orleans: Creating the Segregated City, 1764-1960,” was officially released.

“I hope my historical work shines a light on how deeply rooted these disparities are and how they’ve been reinforced over long periods of time,” says Stern, whose research interests developed out of his experiences teaching public high school in Mississippi, covering education for a daily newspaper in Georgia and working as a consultant for multiple education initiatives in Louisiana. “This look back helps us better understand just how bold new strategies will need to be in order to undo such an entrenched and unequal system.”

Stern in May received a National Academy of Education/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship to further build on this work and to examine school desegregation and the roots of mass incarceration in Louisiana.

‘Accountability and Opportunity in Higher Education’

Released in March, “Accountability and Opportunity in Higher Education: The Civil Rights Dimension,” includes essays from top academics addressing the unforeseen impact of accountability standards on students of color and the institutions that disproportionately serve them.

In particular, this book describes how federal policies can worsen existing racial inequalities in higher education and offers alternative solutions aimed to protect and advance civil rights for low-income and minority students and their colleges.

The book is edited by Gary Orfield of the University of California, Los Angeles, the co-founder and co-director of UCLA’s Civil Rights Project, and Nicholas Hillman, an associate professor with UW–Madison’s Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis (ELPA). Hillman also contributed an essay for the book, as did ELPA Ph.D. students Daniel Corral and Valerie Crespin-Trujillo.

Partners in research discover impact of 4K

The Madison community now knows that its 4-year-old-kindergarten (4K) program is meeting one of its most important goals — getting more children equally prepared to enter kindergarten.

“Just imagine being far behind the starting line at 5 years old and never being able to catch up,” says Eric Grodsky, a UW–Madison sociology professor and co-director of the Madison Education Partnership (MEP). “Many low-performing students become so frustrated, they tune school out.”

An impetus for forming MEP, a research-practice partnership of the School of Education’s Wisconsin Center for Education Research and the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD), is the significant disparity in academic achievement between African American and white students in Wisconsin.

“We wanted to work with our local school district to help solve this problem,” says Eric Camburn, a professor with the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis who co-directs MEP with Grodsky and Beth Vaade, MMSD’s qualitative research supervisor.

“Our first research topic is 4K because we believe it can help stop gaps in the first place,” says Vaade, an alumna of the School of Education. “We already have found that 4K students enter kindergarten with better reading, interpersonal and social skills, and classroom behavior. We think 4K is so important that it will be our sole focus for several years.”

In April, MEP held its first public meeting and shared findings from the five studies it has tackled to date on 4K participation, attendance, skill development, family engagement and homelessness. The studies are available at

WISCAPE summit highlights challenges,
opportunities of shifting demographics

James Minor at WISCAPE Summit
UW-Madison alumnus James T. Minor, the
assistant vice chancellor and senior strategist
for academic success and external partnerships
with the California State University (CSU) system,
spoke about the CSU system's efforts to eliminate
equity gaps at the WISCAPE summit.
The Wisconsin Center for the Advancement of Postsecondary Education (WISCAPE) hosted its inaugural summit, Educating a Diverse Wisconsin, on April 26 at Dejope Residence Hall at UW–Madison.

More than 125 people from throughout Wisconsin attended the event, focused on the challenges and opportunities of educating an increasingly diverse state.

Faculty Director Clif Conrad, a professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis, said the purpose of the event was to raise awareness and develop a deeper understanding of Wisconsin’s underrepresented student populations. He called for “spirited dialogue” among participants, with the goal of identifying promising ideas for enrolling, educating and graduating these students.

Jamie Merisotis, a globally recognized leader in philanthropy, education and public policy, and the president and CEO of the Lumina Foundation, delivered the keynote address. Merisotis noted it was fitting that participants had gathered at UW-Madison, “home to over 40,000 students of great promise,” to take on what he called the “toughest and most urgent challenge” of our time, which is: “Ensuring that America can unleash the talent of all its citizens, so that they can both survive and thrive in a challenging 21st century economy.”

WISCAPE is housed within the School of Education's Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis.

Video game improves balance in youth with autism

Playing a video game that rewards participants for holding various “ninja” poses could help children and youth with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) improve their balance, according to a study this past fall in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders led by researchers at UW–Madison.

Balance challenges are more common among people with ASD compared to the broader population, says study lead author Brittany Travers, and difficulties with balance and postural stability are commonly thought to relate to more severe ASD symptoms and impaired activities in daily living.

“We think this video game-based training could be a unique way to help individuals with ASD who have challenges with their balance address these issues,” says Travers, an assistant professor with the Occupational Therapy program, which is housed within the School of Education’s Department of Kinesiology. She also is an investigator at UW– Madison’s Waisman Center.

In this pilot study — the largest ever to look at the effects of balance training on individuals with ASD — 29 participants between the ages of 7 and 17 with ASD completed a six-week training program playing a video game developed by the researchers. By the end of the program, study participants showed significant improvements in not only their in-game poses but also their balance and posture outside of the game environment.

Travers developed the video game with help from Andrea Mason, another professor with the Department of Kinesiology, in addition to Leigh Ann Mrotek at UW-Oshkosh and Anthony Ellertson at Boise State University.

  — By Adityarup “Rup” Chakravorty, Waisman Center

Around the School …

Neon Light Show photos by Jeff Miller• Neon has come a long way since the days when its typical use was for signs with succinct messages such as “EAT.” The 2018 Neon Light Show, held in the UW Stock Pavilion on April 21, included glass sculptures and artwork created by more than 45 artists from UW–Madison, Alfred University (New York), Brooklyn Glass (New York), the Art Institute of Chicago and many artists from Wisconsin. “For many people, neon is advertising, but in the hands of a creative, it becomes so much more,” organizer Tom Zickuhr told the Isthmus newspaper. “When you combine glass, rare gas and electricity, it’s easy to see the beauty in neon — the artist is literally catching lightning in a bottle.” Check out photos of the event from University Communications' Jeff Miller at right

• The work of UW–Madison’s Lynda Barry is being featured in the “Drawn to Purpose: American Women Illustrators and Cartoonists,” exhibit at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. The “Drawn to Purpose” exhibit will be on display through Oct. 20, 2018 and will showcase almost 70 works by 43 artists in two rotations. Barry is an award-winning author and cartoonist with the School of Education’s Art Department. The associate professor of interdisciplinary creativity holds the Chazen Family Distinguished Chair in Art.

Aydin Bal delivered a keynote at the 2nd International Congress on Early Childhood Intervention in Antalya, Turkey, on March 31. Bal is an associate professor with the Department of Rehabilitation Psychology and Special Education. He presented culturally responsive, school-wide behavioral intervention and support models to educators, psychologists, rehabilitation counselors, social workers, physiotherapists and researchers.

Melinda Leko was awarded the editorship of the Teacher Education and Special Education (TESE) journal. Leko is an associate professor with the Department of Rehabilitation Psychology and Special Education. Cynthia Griffin from the University of Florida was also awarded the editorship. Leko and Griffin’s term begins in 2019.

David Williamson Shaffer delivered a keynote address at the Learning Analytics and Knowledge Conference, which ran March 5-9 in Sydney, Australia. Shaffer is the Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor of Learning Sciences with the Department of Educational Psychology. He is an expert on teaching and assessing 21st Century skills through educational games.

Julie Underwood was named to a Blue Ribbon Commission on School Funding that was announced by Wisconsin’s legislative leaders on Dec. 6. The commission was chaired by Sen. Luther Olsen (R-Ripon) and Rep. Joel Kitchens (R-Sturgeon Bay). “Hopefully the commission will provide an opportunity for legislators, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction and practicing educators to improve educational opportunities for Wisconsin’s children,” says Underwood, the Susan Engeleiter Professor of Education Law, Policy and Practice, and the former dean of the School of Education.

Daniel Bolt was elected as the president of the Psychometric Society in a vote by the organization’s membership. He will begin serving on the executive committee as president-elect in August, and will serve as president of the organization in 2019-20. Bolt is a professor with the School of Education’s Department of Educational Psychology.

© 2018 Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System • Please contact the School of Education External Relations Office with questions, issues or comments about this site.