School of Education News

UW–Madison’s Hess elected to National Academy of Education

February 12, 2019

UW–Madison’s Diana Hess is one of 16 leading researchers and educators from across the globe to be recently elected to membership in the National Academy of Education (NAEd).

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

Diana Hess
“I am honored to be elected to the National Academy of Education,” says Hess. “I have such respect for the important work that the National Academy of Education does — and am especially pleased to be part of a new project on Civic Reasoning, Debate, and Discourse that is just launching.”

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. In addition to serving on expert study panels that address pressing issues in education, members are also deeply engaged in NAEd’s professional development programs.

The announcement of this most recent class of scholars being elected to the academy was made by NAEd President Gloria Ladson-Billings in a Feb. 7 news release. Ladson-Billings is a professor emerita with UW-Madison’s School of Education, where she held the Kellner Family Distinguished Chair in Urban Education at the time of her retirement from the university in January 2018.

“This diverse group of scholars is being recognized for its extraordinary contributions to education research and policy. These leaders are at the forefront of those helping to improve the lives of students in the United States and abroad,” Ladson-Billings said in the NAEd news release.

Much of Hess’ 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.

Her first book on this topic, “Controversy in the Classroom: The Democratic Power of Discussion,” won the Exemplary Research Award from the National Council for the Social Studies in 2009. Her most recent book, “The Political Classroom: Evidence and Ethics in Democratic Education,” received the American Educational Research Association’s Outstanding Book Award in 2016. This book, which was co-authored with Paula McAvoy, also earned the prestigious Grawemeyer Award in 2017.

Hess was further recognized by the National Council for the Social Studies in 2017 with the Grambs Distinguished Career Research Award, which recognizes professionals who have made extensive contributions to knowledge concerning significant areas of social studies education through meritorious research.

Hess is deeply committed to working with teachers to improve the quality of democratic education in schools. In this regard, she frequently keynotes conferences, and leads professional development courses and workshops. This past September, for example, Hess and the School of Education hosted a day-long event leading up to the November midterm elections titled, “Teaching About the 2018 Elections: Preparing Students for Political Engagement.” Hess also serves on the board of the Constitutional Rights Foundation Chicago and the iCivics Scholars Advisory Board.

Hess became dean of UW-Madison’s School of Education on Aug. 1, 2015, after serving as senior vice president of the Spencer Foundation in Chicago for the previous four years. The Spencer Foundation funds research to improve education policy and practice.

Hess first arrived at UW–Madison in 1999 to join the School’s No. 1-ranked Department of Curriculum and Instruction as an assistant professor. She climbed the ranks, becoming an associate professor in 2005 and a full professor in 2009 before taking a leave from the university to work at the Spencer Foundation.

In addition to Ladson-Billings and Hess, current members of the National Academy of Education with ties to UW–Madison’s School of Education include: David Kaplan, the Patricia Busk Professor of Quantitative Methods with the School’s No. 1-ranked Department of Educational Psychology; William Reese, the Carl F. Kaestle WARF and Vilas Research Professor of Educational Policy Studies and History; Adam Gamoran, the president of the William T. Grant Foundation and the former director of the Wisconsin Center for Education Research; Ken Zeichner, a professor emeritus with the Department of Curriculum and Instruction who is the Boeing Professor of Teacher Education at the University of Washington, Seattle; and Andrew Porter, a former director of the Wisconsin Center for Education research who today is an emeritus professor of education in the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania. Former UW-Madison chancellor Donna Shalala is also a member of the NAEd.

An induction ceremony for new members will take place during the 2019 NAEd Annual Meeting in November. In addition to Hess, the new members of NAEd are:

  • Alfredo Artiles, Arizona State University
  • Arnetha Ball, Stanford University
  • Rami Benbenishty, Bar Ilan University
  • Howard Bloom, MDRC
  • John Fantuzzo, University of Pennsylvania
  • Sylvia Hurtado, UCLA
  • Joseph Krajcik, Michigan State University
  • Nonie Lesaux, Harvard University
  • Bridget Long, Harvard University
  • Teresa McCarty, UCLA
  • William Penuel, University of Colorado, Boulder
  • Laura Perna, University of Pennsylvania
  • Cybele Raver, New York University
  • Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, Northwestern University
  • Stanton Wortham, Boston College

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