Grad studies expert wins award from major ed research group

April 2, 2018

AERA will present its Early Career Award to USC Rossier professor Julie Posselt

By Ross Brenneman

USC Rossier scholars gathered for a reception at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association in San Antonio in 2017. (File)

More than 50 scholars will represent USC Rossier at this year’s annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), the largest professional group of its kind in the United States.

This year’s AERA meeting, held in New York City April 13-17, carries the theme of “The Dreams, Possibilities and Necessities of Public Education.”

And for the fourth time in the last five years, one of the organization’s top honors, the Early Career Award, will go to a USC Rossier professor: Julie Posselt, an assistant professor of higher education and expert on graduate education admissions.

“This is an incredible honor for me, and a real validation of graduate education as a worthy focus for educational researchers,” Posselt said.

Posselt also received the Early Career Award from the Association for the Study of Higher Education in November 2017.

Most recently, Posselt accepted a role as lead advisor for a major grant project helmed by UC Davis and UCLA that will look to cement holistic admissions—the process of considering applicants as “whole people”—in each university’s STEM graduate fields. She is also the author of Inside Graduate Admissions: Merit, Diversity, and Faculty Gatekeeping.

Posselt will join a growing line of recent Trojan professors to win the award: Associate Professor of Education Morgan Polikoff won the Early Career Award in 2017; Brendesha Tynes, an associate professor of education and psychology, won the award in 2015; and Professor of Education, Psychology & Neuroscience Mary Helen Immordino-Yang won it in 2014.

A platform for reform

As part of her award, Posselt will present a lecture at the 2019 annual meeting, to be held in Toronto. The 2017 winner, Polikoff, will deliver his award lecture at this year’s meeting.

Polikoff said his speech will offer lessons for the coming years pertaining to Common Core State Standards and implementation of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act.

“Standards-based reform has been a dominant policy in U.S. schools for the last quarter century,” Polikoff said. “While student outcomes have improved during this period, opportunity and outcome gaps have hardly budged. My talk is going to synthesize my own and others’ research to argue that our failures in policy design and implementation have doomed the reform from having its intended effects.”

Forty-six states and the District of Columbia adopted the Common Core State Standards after they debuted almost a decade ago; in the intervening years, several states have modified the standards. Others repealed the standards and adopted new ones, although they often bear deep similarities to the common core.

Previous research by Polikoff has suggested that views on common core are tied to political views about former president Barack Obama, whose administration supported adoption of the state standards.

Here’s the full schedule of AERA events that feature USC Rossier participants:

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