News and Notes from across the School of Education

News & Notes

UW-Madison ties for No. 1 ranking among public schools of education

The UW–Madison School of Education and many of its programs continue to be recognized as being among the very best in the nation.

SoE Rankings info graphicU.S. News & World Report released its 2020 Best Education Graduate Schools rankings on March 12, and UW–Madison is home to the highest-rated public school of education in the nation, a distinction it is sharing this year with the University of California–Los Angeles.

UW–Madison’s School of Education is No. 3 overall, trailing only Ivy League privates Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania. UW–Madison, UCLA, and Stanford University all tied for the No. 3 spot.

“While these rankings are but one measure, they are special because they recognize the collective contributions of our many talented and dedicated faculty and staff,” says School of Education Dean Diana Hess. “The depth of our highly regarded programs is a great strength of ours.”

In addition to this overall rank, UW–Madison’s School of Education this year is also home to nine specialty programs ranked among the top 10 in the nation — including the No. 1- ranked program in rehabilitation counseling, which is housed within the Department of Rehabilitation Psychology and Special Education.

"We are honored and humbled by such a prestigious recognition,” says UW-Madison Associate Professor Melinda Leko, who chairs the Department of Rehabilitation Psychology and Special Education. “It is a testament to the dedication and excellence exemplified by our faculty, staff, students, and alumni who are working tirelessly every day to improve outcomes for individuals with disabilities within our society.”

Not all graduate specialty programs are ranked by U.S. News & World Report each year.

Dean Hess elected to National Academy of Education

Diana Hess is one of 16 leading researchers and educators from across the globe to be elected to membership in the National Academy of Education (NAEd) this year.

Hess serves as dean of the School of Education and holds the Karen A. Falk Distinguished Chair of Education.

“I am honored to be elected to the National Academy of Education,” Hess said in November. “I have such respect for the important work that the National Academy of Education does – and am especially pleased to be apart of a new project on Civic Reasoning, Debate, and Discourse.”

The NAEd advances high-quality education research and its use in policy and practice. The academy consists of U.S. members and foreign associates who are elected on the basis of outstanding scholarship related to education. Nominations are submitted by individual academy members once a year for review and election by the organization’s membership.

Much of Hess’ award-winning research centers on examining how teachers engage their students in discussions of highly controversial political and constitutional issues. This work, which Hess started more than two decades ago, also investigates the impact this approach to civic education has on what young people learn.

Baldridge authors ‘Reclaiming Community’

Bianca Baldridge, a sociologist of education and an assistant professor with the Department of Educational Policy Studies, is the author of a newly released book, “Reclaiming Community: Race and the Uncertain Future of Youth Work.”

Bianca Baldridge with Reclaiming CommunityThe Los Angeles native explains that since a relatively young age, she knew that she wanted to be an educator — but not in a traditional classroom setting.

“I’ve always liked the idea that learning can take place in different settings, and after-school programs offer the freedom to teach and get involved with young people in different ways,” says Baldridge, who taught middle schoolers in after-school and community-based programs as a high schooler, and who then taught high schoolers in similar settings while studying at the University of California–Berkeley as an undergraduate.

Today, it’s estimated that 2.4 million black youth in the U.S. are participating in after-school programs offering a range of supports.

Baldridge’s new book centers on the work of a community based program, Education Excellence (EE). A preview of the book ex- plains how this work shines a light “on both the invaluable role youth workers play in these spaces and the precarious context in which such programs now exist.”

The preview adds: “Baldridge captures the stories of loss and resistance within this con- text of immense external political pressure, arguing powerfully for the damage caused when the same structural violence that black youth experience in school, starts to occur in the places they go to escape.”

“Community-based spaces offer so much potential,” says Baldridge. “Like any institution, there are deep connections between race, class, and power that can exacerbate harm. My hope is that by working with, and highlighting the voices of, community-based educators, we can lift up their efforts and have people start taking more seriously the important work they do.”

• Baldridge in January received two significant honors from UW–Madison. She was one of 10 faculty members from across campus chosen to receive a 2019 Distinguished Teaching Award. These honors have been given out since 1953 to recognize the university’s finest educators. Baldridge that same month learned she was receiving an Outstanding Women of Color award from UW–Madison. The award recognizes women of color who are invested in improving the Madison community.

School of Education Bookshelf ...

• Professor Douglas Rosenberg, who edited the 2016 publication, “The Oxford Handbook of Screendance Studies,” is receiving the prestigious 2018 Oscar G. Brockett Book Prize for Dance Research. The prize, from the Dance Studies Association, is awarded to the best book in dance published during the previous three calendar years. Rosenburg chairs the Art Department.

• A recent book from Andrea Harris, “Making Ballet American: Modernism Before and Beyond Balanchine,” was named a Choice Outstanding Academic Title for 2018. Harris is a dance historian and certified movement analyst who is an associate professor with the Dance Department.

• A fourth edition of Michael Apple’s award-winning “Ideology and Curriculum” was released earlier this year, on the 40th anniversary of its initial release in 1979. Apple is the John Bascom Professor Emeritus of Curriculum and Instruction and Educational Policy Studies with the School of Education.

• Why teach science? The answer to that question will determine how it is taught. Despite the enduring belief that science should be taught, there has been no consensus about how or why. This is especially true when it comes to teaching scientific process. In his new book, “How We Teach Science: What’s Changed and Why it Matters,” Professor John Rudolph shows that how we think about and teach science will either sustain or thwart future innovation, and ultimately determine how science is perceived and received by the public. Rudolph chairs the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, and is a faculty affiliate of the Holtz Center for Science and Technology Studies. His research focuses on the practice and history of science education in high schools.

Evaluation tool for Wisconsin districts unveiled

Through a contract with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI), experts with UW–Madison developed an evaluation toolkit that schools and districts can now use to make sure their state-required academic and career planning (ACP) for students is effective.

The free guidance, live online via the state DPI website (, is aimed at helping district and school leaders systematically assess the effectiveness of their ACP plans, which are required to be in place for every student in grades 6–12 under a state law.

ACP programs are intended to get students thinking sooner about what they’re good at and what they might want to do after high school or college, using a variety of delivery methods such as course content, job shadowing, counseling, internships, and more.

While the state provided resources to help districts create and implement their ACP plans, little attention was paid to encouraging districts to regularly examine whether those plans result in expected student outcomes.

So additional guidance on evaluation was needed, says researcher Robin Worth, who led the team at the Wisconsin Evaluation Collaborative (WEC) that created the ACP Program Evaluation Toolkit at DPI’s behest. WEC is housed within the School of Education’s Wisconsin Center for Edu- cation Research.

Robin Kroyer-Kubicek, DPI’s ACP implementation co-lead, says WEC
has been a great partner and continues to support DPI through this tool and through the annual ACP evaluation.

Public talk, reception honors Ladson-Billings

The School of Education hosted a public talk and reception on March 21 to honor the groundbreaking work and celebrate the remarkable career of Gloria Ladson-Billings.

Gloria Ladson-BillingsThe evening was dedicated to putting a spotlight on her legacy while also getting a glimpse into how Ladson-Billings plans to utilize her role as president of the National Academy of Education (NAEd) to tackle challenges and find new ways to bring insights from education research and practice to bear on different domains.

Ladson-Billings delivered a talk titled “Dreaming in Public: Renewing the Commitment to Education for Democracy.” The renowned scholar, who has helped change the way teachers teach, is perhaps best known for her 1994 book “The Dreamkeepers: Successful Teachers of African American Children.”

After spending more than 26 years as a faculty member on the UW–Madi- son campus, Ladson-Billings officially retired from her post as the Kellner Fam- ily Distinguished Chair in Urban Education on Jan. 4, 2018, so she could focus her efforts on serving as the new NAEd president.

“Dr. Gloria Ladson-Billings is a model of how thoughtful, rigorous scholar- ship and dedication to community come together to create a career and life of maximum impact,” says UW–Madison’s Erika Bullock, an assistant professor with the Department of Curriculum and Instruction who helped organize the event. “Her life is a picture of what it means to pursue every curiosity and to maximize every moment.”

During her time at UW–Madison, Ladson-Billings served as an advisor for 53 doctoral students, including 21 African American women. Many of her former students have gone on to become professors or teachers, passing on her lessons.

“I think we all hope to leave some kind of legacy, whether it’s through our work, or our family or our activism or relationship with others,” said School of Education Dean Diana Hess. “We want to have an impact that lasts. Very few of us can match Gloria’s legacy. We are different, we are better because of Gloria and that is part of her legacy.”

Grand Challenges: Seed Grants

The School of Education’s Grand Challenges initiative, which aims to ignite cross-disciplinary innovation, spent much of the 2018–19 academic year focusing on a new Seed Grants competition.

The project launched with a request for proposals in November 2018, with three competitions — one in the arts, one in health, and one in education. It concluded with winners of these $75,000 awards being announced in late May.

For much of the spring semester, the Grand Challenges team worked with scholars to pull together interdisciplinary, creative, and impactful Seed Grant proposals that could address critical issues across the arts, health, and education.

Seed Grants are intended to enable teams to grow an audacious idea — which could take the form of a pilot or stand-alone project. The scale of these projects could be local, state, national, or international, with Grand Challenges supporting three projects in each of the three areas (the arts, health and education) — for a total of nine Seed Grants awarded in all.

Around the School ... 

John Diamond, a sociologist of education, was named the Kellner Family Distinguished Chair in Urban Education with the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis. Diamond, who also is a faculty affiliate with the departments of Afro-American Studies and Educational Policy Studies, researches the relationship between social inequality and educational opportunity.

Malachy Bishop was working toward his doctorate in rehabilitation psychology at UW–Madison in the late 1990s, when his advisor was Professor Norm Berven. This past fall, Bishop joined the Department of Rehabilitation Psychology and Special Education as a faculty member. And as part of his offer to return to the university, Bishop was awarded a named professorship — the Norman L. and Barbara M. Berven Professor of Rehabilitation Psychology.

Jin-Wen Yu is receiving the Hilldale Award in the Arts and Humanities for the 2018–19 academic year. Given annually at UW–Madison since 1986–87, the Hilldale Awards recognize distinguished contributions to teaching, research, and service. Yu is a faculty member with the Dance Department. 

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