Stanford GSE professor awarded the world’s top prize in education

Graduate School of Education (GSE) professor emeritus Linda Darling-Hammond received the Yidan Award for Education Research for her contributions to education policy and teacher education on Sept. 28. Stanford Accelerator for top learning.

Amica-Hammond will receive a total of $3.9 million with the award — half to fund her research in teacher education and the other half in cash. She is one of six Yidan Prize laureates who are affiliated with Stanford out of 13 total recipients.

Amica-Hammond’s interest in education research stems from her experience as a high school teacher, when she became increasingly aware of systemic issues related to low-cost and suboptimal teacher training.

“It became clear to me that we could design better schools and train teachers and resources for schools, some of which are happening now,” Darling-Hammond said.

Learning Policy Institute (LPI) in 2015. LPI is a non-profit and non-partisan organization that combines the work of researchers, policymakers and educators to bridge the gap between educational research and implementation through policies.

Darling-Hammond is also the president and CEO of the Educator Preparation Laboratory (EdPrepLab), an initiative that aims to train educators to understand both academic and emotional learning in gaming settings. EdPrepLab collaborates with teacher education programs that hope to use knowledge from research for licensing and accreditation standards.

“We think a lot about how do you make the base knowledge and research base accessible to teachers so they can actually use it in production?” Amica-Hammond said.

GSE Dean Dan Schwartz praised Darling-Hammond upon accepting the award, praising her work not only as a researcher, but also as a professor who has played an important role in the Stanford Center for Opportunity in Education.

former student Haydee Rodriguez MA ’02 echoed Darling-Hammond’s gratitude to the teacher. “I think there are so many students who are sitting in classrooms in California and in the US whose lives are being touched in some way,” Rodriguez said.

Schwartz said Darling-Hammond is actively involved with the Stanford Teacher Education Redesign Program (STEP), an annual GSE program that invites teacher candidates to take an academic course while working in California public schools for field use.

Rodriguez recalled his experience as a former student of Darling-Hammond, speaking fondly of the memories he took from it. “I came to GRADU in 2001 and taught adolescent development and some other courses,” he said. “I have really appreciated how Linda views teaching as a professional. She gives him the respect she deserves.

Schwartz said this respect was at work in Darling-Hammond’s education. “She was really amazing because she had a very strong vision of what made a great teacher, and how children strive to learn,” Schwartz said. “And that’s in the research, in the teaching institute, in the advocacy policy positions.”

Schwartz was part of the nomination and recommendation process at the Yidan Foundation, which, according to its website, sent two letters of recommendation to the judges for recognized experts in educational research and development.

“Linda was a prolific essayist, reader and writer. And I think, on the research side, he’s shared great ideas widely with teachers, counselors, school district administrators, and so you know, he’s just been a great communicator,” Schwartz said.

When she shared her vision for education policy at the Daily, Darling-Hammond saw the importance of equity and meaningful learning — “the kind of learning that is true, that is lifelong use, that is engagement. It allows students to take their knowledge and apply it in new situations.”

“The way we get to the meaning of learning requires changes in the way testing is now typically done for the lower skills, the way we design curriculum and the way we train teachers,” Darling-Hammond said.

Rodriguez now works alongside Darling-Hammond at the California State Board of Education. He stated that Darling-Hammond’s efforts in teacher education and assessment standards are inspiring as he praised her work in implementing the California Teacher Performance Assessment to collect tangible data on teacher readiness.

“What I’ve learned through my work with the national board with Linda is that the most responsible assessment is the thing that we can have in this profession, because we show that we have pedagogy, that we have content. And we can manifest it in the school,” Rodriguez said.

Amica-Hammond said she looks forward to investing the newly acquired project funds into EdPrepLab’s promotional work.

The professor said EdPrepLab intends to expand internationally. “To prepare the teachers, we will have to do a deeper research”, looking at how the preparation of the kind of teachers involved in the organization of a responsive culture and equity, both in the agenda and in the school, can act,” he said.

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