“Fairness Has To Be All About Excellence,” Says Winner of $3.9 Million Schooling Prize

Linda Darling-Hammond—the president and CEO of the Studying Coverage Institute, Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Schooling Emeritus at Stanford College, and routinely on the high of the chief board within the annual RHSU Edu-Scholar rankings—has been awarded the 2022 Yidan Prize for Schooling Analysis. The $3.9 million prize, arguably the world’s most prestigious schooling award, credited Linda’s scholarship with “reveal[ing] the varied methods youngsters study and the way greatest to show them—and feed[ing] these insights into sturdy educator growth applications and reworked faculties.” Whereas Linda and I’ve disagreed loads through the years, I’ve nice respect for her exceptional contributions. So, I assumed I’d take this chance to ask her a couple of questions on her work, the award, and the problems of the day.

Hess: Congratulations, Linda. It’s a well-deserved honor. For starters, are you able to say a couple of phrases about the way you got here to concentrate on the sorts of points—like skilled growth and instructor preparation—for which you’re honored?

Linda Darling-Hammond

Darling-Hammond: Thanks, Rick. I turned interested by instructor studying due to my very own experiences as a highschool English instructor. I fell into educating after school, getting into via an alternate-route intern program in Philadelphia that positioned me in a full-time educating place after just some weeks of student-teaching throughout the summer time. Whereas I had taught in an city after-school program throughout school, I rapidly realized how underprepared I used to be to satisfy the wants of all my college students—together with excessive schoolers who couldn’t but learn. The skilled growth I skilled was restricted and unhelpful. Whereas I used to be enthusiastic and hardworking, and the scholars favored me properly sufficient, I couldn’t discover the data base for educating that I used to be desperately searching for at the moment. After I met some extraordinary lecturers and commenced to review how that they had discovered to show, and carried out analysis on instructor preparation at RAND and, later, at Academics Faculty, Columbia College, I found a deep data base that few lecturers may entry. I made up my mind then to work on understanding high-quality preparation for lecturers and determining the way it may change into widespread.

Hess: You’ve proven a exceptional means to straddle the worlds of academia and authorities. You’ve served as president of the California board of schooling, chaired the California Fee on Instructor Credentialing, helmed Obama’s schooling transition group in 2008, and Biden’s transition group in 2020. What have you ever discovered from these roles?

Darling-Hammond: As , there’s a deep divide between analysis and follow and a fair deeper divide between analysis and coverage. That schism turned obvious over the last years of No Baby Left Behind, a subject about which you and I penned a joint op-ed because the regulation’s implementation turned increasingly more dysfunctional. As I’ve engaged within the coverage course of, I’ve discovered extra in regards to the constraints and concerns policymakers need to bear in mind and what it takes to get previous infatuation with a single silver bullet to really construct a considerate system of helps and incentives. On the Studying Coverage Institute, my colleagues and I search to grasp how one can convey strong proof to the coverage area, significantly in methods which are evidence-based, simple to grasp, and sensible for policymakers. That could be a large translation activity that requires common engagement and communication with respect on each side.

Hess: You’re a champion {of professional} growth, however you’ve additionally acknowledged that a lot of it’s ineffective. Why is that? And what can we do about it?

Darling-Hammond: In lots of locations, skilled growth has been designed as a torturous “sit and get” occasion the place some outsider is available in and talks at drained lecturers, who are supposed to merely pay attention: probably the most ineffective approaches to studying. In fact, simpler approaches exist. My LPI colleagues and I screened the literature for high-quality research that discovered professional-development fashions that modified instructor follow and enabled student-learning positive factors. We discovered that these fashions had numerous options in widespread: They have been primarily based within the curriculum content material being taught; engaged lecturers in energetic studying as lecturers tried out the practices they might use; supplied fashions of the practices with classes, assignments, and training; prolonged over time (usually a minimum of 50 hours of interplay over numerous months) with iterative alternatives to strive issues within the classroom and proceed to refine. As well as, these efforts have been nearly all the time accompanied by in-person or on-line teaching, typically utilizing classroom movies because the grist for these conversations.

Hess: On a associated observe, what do you consider the state of instructor preparation at this time? Do you suppose it has improved over the previous couple a long time—and is there any strategy to actually know?

Darling-Hammond: I feel a strong group of teacher-preparation applications have been bettering since a minimum of the late Eighties, when the Holmes Group of Deans and the Nationwide Community for Academic Renewal labored with flagship universities and different dedicated schools to design a brand new mannequin—a coherent, content-rich program linking college students to accomplice faculties demonstrating state-of-the-art follow for coaching and interesting candidates in a full yr of graduated duty with professional mentors. This helps faculty and college enchancment on the similar time. Nevertheless, there was no coverage assist for this work for the final 20 years or for the coaching prices of potential lecturers, and instructor salaries have declined because the early Nineteen Nineties. Because of this, the standard of instructor schooling has grown extra variable as shortages have grown, and lots of applications have been designed to chop corners to get lecturers into lecture rooms rapidly.

Hess: Because the Yidan Prize Basis famous, you’ve spent a profession as a number one voice for fairness. It appears to me that one ensuing problem is how to make sure that a wholesome concern for fairness doesn’t morph into an unhealthy disdain for the notion of excellence. How do you concentrate on this problem? How do you advise practitioners and policymakers to proceed on that rely?

Darling-Hammond: I feel fairness must be all about excellence: Fairness entails getting all college students entry to glorious educating and rigorous, wealthy, related studying alternatives. It means serving to college students study as a lot as they will, creating their specific passions and pursuits, and assembly their wants alongside the best way. Fairness, nonetheless, isn’t about standardization—doing precisely the identical factor with or for all college students. We now know from the science of studying and growth that the majority of human potential is constructed by the relationships and experiences individuals have all through their lives, not assumed at delivery. Provided that college students come to high school with completely different experiences, beginning factors, and methods of studying, the educating and studying course of must be personalised to an ideal extent. Generally this may increasingly imply professional use of collaboration and differentiation throughout the classroom. Generally it might imply intensive tutoring at key moments to assist college students speed up their studying. It might imply after-school and summer time faculty studying alternatives. It ought to by no means imply holding again some college students from alternatives in favor of equal outcomes. As an alternative, it ought to all the time imply leveling up the alternatives to study in order that we’ve got extra completed, contributing members of society.

Hess: As you advise faculties and methods in mild of the pandemic, what’s the one most necessary factor you’d encourage them to do?

Darling-Hammond: I’d encourage educators and policymakers to make use of this second of deep disruption to reinvent the best way we do faculty: to maneuver past the assembly-line manufacturing facility mannequin we inherited 100 years in the past to new fashions which are extra versatile, equitable, and profitable. Innovators have created many new designs that permit for extra personalised and experiential studying; stronger relationships amongst lecturers, college students, and households; time for lecturers to collaborate round curriculum, educating, and decisionmaking; and competency-based approaches that change time and strategies—from high-intensity tutoring to inventive makes use of of expertise—quite than accepting disparate outcomes alongside a bell curve. To get to this new future, faculties of schooling ought to accomplice with such revolutionary faculties for coaching up the lecturers and leaders of the longer term. Policymakers ought to take away the constraints and laws that have been designed to prop up the manufacturing facility mannequin. They need to work to make sure assets are supporting well-prepared educators who can innovate and make good selections for kids, quite than making an attempt to micromanage faculties themselves.

This interview has been edited and condensed for readability.

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