January 14, 2013
Stanford renames education school to emphasize its graduate research, education
The new name – Stanford Graduate School of Education – reflects the school's dedication to advanced research and graduate-level preparation of educational leaders.
By Jonathan Rabinovitz
The newly renamed Stanford Graduate School of Education. (Photo: Linda A. Cicero / Stanford News Service)
Stanford's education school is changing its name to better reflect the rigor of its research efforts and its preparation of scholars, teacher-leaders, policy makers and educational managers and entrepreneurs.
The school, effective today, is adding the word "graduate" to its name so that it now will be known as the Stanford Graduate School of Education.
"The faculty, students and alumni at the Graduate School of Education are bringing expertise to the table that is vital to transforming our schools," said Stanford University President John Hennessy. "Our graduate school has long been a place for educational innovation, the training of expert teachers and the advanced study of pedagogy. Now its name is catching up with its pioneering work."
The change in the name also underscores how the school has extended its graduate programs over the years. It has launched advanced-degree programs in such areas as policy, organization and leadership studies; the design of learning technologies; and development and psychological sciences. And it has expanded its graduate education to include the preparation of teachers for elementary school levels, in addition to secondary schools.
Home to faculty research centers
Along with these changes, a dozen or so faculty research centers have blossomed at the school in the past decade. Studies from these centers have shed light on growing disparities in education, offered blueprints on how to redesign "failing" schools, developed evidence-based guidelines for best-teaching practices and fostered innovations in technology that could revolutionize how people learn in and beyond classrooms.
"Our faculty has been at the forefront of providing empirical research that offers new insights and potential solutions for the problems plaguing today's schools," said Claude Steele, dean of the Graduate School of Education. "The GSE remains committed to basic research and scholarship – the pursuit of knowledge is a primary mission of the academy – and these efforts go hand-in-hand with developing the best educational policies and practices and providing the best graduate education of teachers and school leaders.
"Such work, in total, is a primary source of real and lasting change in our nation's schools – change that lasts long after the educational fashions of the day have faded – and it is the hallmark of a Stanford graduate education."
Established in 1891 as the Department of the History of Art and Education, it became the Stanford University School of Education in 1917. The school early on established a strong reputation for advanced scholarship in the field of education, drawing upon a variety of disciplines in the ensuing decades – anthropology, economics, history, linguistics, philosophy, psychology and sociology – to build a deeper understanding of pedagogy and the role of schools in sustaining democracy and strengthening the economy.
Today, its 82 faculty members, including active emeriti and other Stanford professors with courtesy appointments, are at the forefront of shaping public policy and public debate about education issues. In the 2013 RHSU Edu-Scholar Public Presence Rankings published on the Education Week website, 11 of the 100 most-influential educational scholars were from the Stanford Graduate School of Education.
Its faculty members have played key roles in setting the nation's policy plans for educational technology, designing more efficient and equitable school financing, leading efforts to develop better standardized testing and the Common Core, and identifying strategies that improve school, teacher and student performance.
The school proposed to add the word "graduate" to its name last spring, prompted in part by the growing national debate about the crises in U.S. schools despite waves of sweeping reforms. The idea is to make policy makers and the public even more aware of the school's advanced research addressing these issues. The Stanford University Board of Trustees approved the new name in October.
Educating about 400 graduate students
The Graduate School of Education currently has about 400 graduate students, half of whom are pursuing doctorates. It offers PhDs in 18 fields of study and master's degrees in six scholarly areas, as well as joint degrees with the Stanford Graduate School of Business and Stanford Law School. It also offers programs for Stanford undergraduates.
Roughly half of last year's graduates studied to become elementary and secondary teachers, while the others prepared to pursue careers in academia, research, business and education management.
The school's more than 13,000 alumni include teachers, school principals and district and state superintendents; professors and researchers; founders of Silicon Valley educational startups and executives at major education organizations; policy makers in local, state and federal education departments and governments worldwide; and leaders of local and global nonprofits.
The new name also reflects the faculty and graduate student efforts to pioneer the use of new media, the Internet and other innovations in technology in education. These initiatives under way at the school are not only leveraging technology to devise new educational approaches but also studying the implications of these approaches for teaching and for educational institutions, ranging from elementary schools to universities.
The school's research and scholarship go hand-in-hand with the clinical education offered in the Stanford Teacher Education Program (STEP), which is specially designed to prepare teachers to serve in the nation's most challenging classrooms. STEP graduates receive both master's degrees and teacher certification.
"The goal is more than graduating excellent teachers," said Rachel Lotan, professor of education and director of STEP Secondary. "We seek to revitalize the profession and the field by preparing educational leaders for tomorrow's schools."
STEP has been widely cited as a national model for producing teacher leaders whose grounding in education research and policy positions them to promote change in the educational system over the course of lifelong careers as educators. Nearly 80 percent of STEP graduates remain in teaching five years after graduating, as compared with the national average of approximately 50 percent.
While many of the nation's teacher-preparation programs are focused on certifying teachers and are devoted to undergraduates, Stanford is among a smaller subset of schools that offer advanced degrees and are major research centers. "By changing the name, we want to accentuate how the Stanford Graduate School of Education is distinctive," said Steele.
Jonathan Rabinovitz is the director of communications at the Stanford Graduate School of Education.