Dr Linda Darling-Hammond

Professor Emeritus, Stanford University; President, Learning Policy Institute

Prize

Yidan Prize for Education Research

Year

2022

Expertise

Educator preparation, Education policy and practice, School redesign, Equitable opportunities, Science of learning and development

Focus by region

Asia, Europe, North America, South America

Fostering equitable and empowering education for all children

Education is an ecosystem, and Dr Linda Darling-Hammond has devoted her career to understanding—and shaping—how it fits together to create empowering learning opportunities for all children, especially those furthest from opportunity. Her work answers questions around how children learn and how best to teach them. It also answers how policy and practice can ensure all students have access to well-prepared educators. Crucially, she’s also made research easier for policymakers to grasp and use, making a difference in millions of students’ lives.

Dr Darling-Hammond’s career began in the classroom, as a public-school teacher in the US. She saw firsthand how inequitably distributed school funding affected resources for students, teaching capacity, and student outcomes. So her early research focused on school finance reform and leveling the playing field for low-income students.

Over the course of her career, her impact has crossed boundaries—from teaching, academia, to policymaking. She has shaped standards for school leader preparation, professional evaluation, teaching methods, assessment and accountability systems, and school design—all of which strengthen educators’ ability to reach and support diverse learners.

Working with education and policy leaders in many US states and over 15 countries, she’s helped inform teacher development programs and policies around evidence-based teaching methods and supports for reaching every learner, including the most marginalized.

Her passion for fair access to quality education has defined her work. She founded a preschool and a public high school in an underserved community, and has founded two research organizations, including the Learning Policy Institute (LPI) in 2015.

In her own words: teaching is the profession on which all other professions depend . For this reason, Dr Darling-Hammond launched the LPI’s Educator Preparation Laboratory (EdPrepLab) with Bank Street Graduate School of Education in 2019. The network connects leading-edge preparation programs, school districts, researchers, and policymakers to put evidence-based, student-centered, equitable teaching at the heart of policy so that every student has access to empowering education.

"With an unwavering drive to see every learner reach their full potential, regardless of social background, gender and geography, Linda has spent her life building research tools that support policy and practice to create better and fairer educational opportunities. Her influence on public policy has helped policy architects shape positive changes for children on a large scale."
Citation

Mr Andreas Schleicher

Panel Head, Judging Panel for Education Research, Yidan Prize

My heartfelt congratulations to Linda Darling-Hammond for the 2022 Yidan Prize for Education Research. Linda is the founding president of the Learning Policy Institute and an Emeritus Professor of Education at Stanford University.

The vision of Charles CHEN Yidan is to create a better world through education, and Linda fits that vision just perfectly. With an incredible drive to see every learner reach their potential, regardless of social background, gender, and geography, she has spent her life building the kind of research tools that support policy and practice to create better and fairer educational opportunities. She has not only advanced the types of evidence used in research and approaches to analysis, but also deeply influenced the questions being asked by policymakers, practitioners, and researchers around the world.

Her work reflects Linda’s commitment to two broad ideas: first, the design of effective policies and practices needs innovative and actionable research; and second, researchers need to engage with policymakers to create a better world through education. It is her capacity to unite these two perspectives that has made her research actionable and established its credibility with both practitioners and policymakers. She continually sought to foster strong teaching and powerful learning by promoting systems that make sure teachers and leaders are well-prepared, that curriculum and assessment focus on meaningful learning, and that schools are equitably and adequately resourced.

And having been a teacher herself, Linda really understands the transformational impact that teachers have on learners, but also the need for a transformation of the teaching profession itself if research evidence is to lead to good educational practice and, ultimately, for good practice to become embedded in educational culture.

Linda is the rare researcher who has developed a deep understanding of how diverse children learn, how they can be effectively taught, and how teaching and learning can be supported by effective organizational designs and policy strategies to make excellent education equitably available.

Her mastery of a wide range of research methods has enabled her to take a truly systemic approach that helps policymakers and practitioners see the forest among the trees and gives them the tools to reimagine the teachers, the spaces, the time and the technology to achieve better and more relevant learning.

Darling-Hammond is a past president of the American Educational Research Association and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Education.

But there is something that perhaps fewer people know about Linda, and that is her incredible generosity in spirit, her deep sense of public service, and her commitment to real change and transformation in education. To this end, she worked extensively with policymakers and educators and led the education policy transition teams in 2008 and 2020.

She currently serves as president of the California State Board of Education. And however busy, she is always ready to listen, always ready to provide advice, always ready to respond to that extra email, and she does all of that always with a human heart.