Stotsky, New Chair Holder, to Study Teacher Quality
When she was senior associate commissioner at the Massachusetts Department of Education, Sandra Stotsky was responsible for strengthening the academic standards for students and prospective teachers. Four years later, Massachusetts' scores for reading and math in grades 4 and 8 on the National Assessment of Educational Progress tests led the nation.
Now, Stotsky will examine issues surrounding teacher quality in Arkansas. The University of Arkansas recently appointed her to the Twenty-First Century Chair in Teacher Quality, one of six endowed chairs in the department of education reform in the College of Education and Health Professions.
The education scholar, researcher and consultant has written or co-written four books, more than 50 articles and more than 100 scholarly publications. She has taught at every educational level and was a research scholar or research associate at Northeastern, Boston and Harvard universities. She serves on the National Mathematics Advisory Panel, a group appointed by President Bush to work with the U.S. Department of Education to make recommendations to Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings on ways to improve mathematics education in K-12.
University officials welcome Stotsky to the fifth of the six endowed chairs in the department of education reform.
"Having Dr. Stotsky join the faculty is an important part of our effort to build a body of research that can inform national, state and local policymakers as they work to improve the education system," said Reed Greenwood, dean of the College of Education and Health Professions.
"Sandra Stotsky is an invaluable addition to our department, university and the state of Arkansas," said Jay P. Greene, the department head and holder of an endowed chair in education reform. "She combines extensive practical experience in improving teacher quality with highly rigorous research in the field."
When Stotsky served as a high-level administrator for the state of Massachusetts from 1999 to 2003, she directed complete revisions of the state's licensing regulations, licensure tests for K-12 educators and preK-12 standards for mathematics, history, civics, geography, economics, English, reading, science, preschool and instructional technology.
The revised standards, which were judged by independent experts as some of the best in the country in terms of quality and rigor, are considered to be a major factor accounting for the state's leading position on both the reading and math tests for grades 4 and 8 given by the National Assessment of Educational Progress in 2005.
"I came to Arkansas because holding this chair affords me a fantastic opportunity to study teacher quality," Stotsky said. "I will be able to accomplish many things that I'm interested in. With this chair, I can do research that can lead to sound policies on teacher preparation and professional development and improve public education for all students. Teacher quality is a critical piece of the educational system."
She proposed a research agenda that includes studying the content of subject-specific methods courses that prospective math and science teachers take, assessing the impact of student teaching on a teacher's future performance, and examining what current licensure tests of teacher skills assess and how they make a difference in the quality of pre-service programs. Stotsky is also interested in what difference a mathematics textbook can make and how professional development affects a teacher's performance.
Stotsky also has experience developing and directing large-scale research projects. From 2000 to 2002, she directed a $2 million intervention project using National Science Foundation funds that investigated whether the use of six highly experienced mathematics coaches working with Massachusetts teachers in low-performing middle schools could improve teachers' knowledge of math and their students' mathematics achievement.
Her doctor of education from Harvard University is in reading research and education, but Stotsky explained that her experience with developing state standards crosses disciplinary boundaries.
"A state department of education is not a bystander when it comes to education standards," she said. "It plays a major role in providing the legal framework for the preparation of teachers, whatever subjects they will be teaching."
Stotsky also emphasized her interest in a multidisciplinary approach to teacher preparation. She wants to learn about all areas of the University of Arkansas that have an impact on future teachers.
"I'm very attuned to looking across the university to all academic disciplines and their role in the preparation of teachers," she said.
Stotsky has also been active in community organizations and leadership. In her leisure time, she practices the piano and looks forward to playing in classical chamber music groups.
For 20 years, Stotsky has directed summer institutes on civic education to help U.S. history and government teachers learn more about the country's seminal political documents and principles.
In December 2006, she served as the lead consultant to a UNESCO curriculum project to help officials in the Afghanistan Ministry of Education revise and update the syllabi for their entire secondary curriculum. She has also worked as a consultant for the U.S. Information Service helping Eastern European ministry officials and teachers develop democratically oriented school curricula and teacher preparation programs in civic education.
The department of education reform was created in July 2005. A $10 million private gift was combined with $10 million from the university's matching gift program to endow the department, which focuses on five priority areas: teacher quality, leadership, policy, accountability and transparency, and school choice. The leadership chair is open.
Sandra Stosky, Twenty-First Century Chair in Teacher Quality
College of Education and Health Professions
(479) 575-7282, email@example.com
Heidi Stambuck, director of communications
College of Education and Health Professions
(479) 575-3138, firstname.lastname@example.org