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Return to the Rossi Award page.

2007 Rossi Award Winner - Grover J. (Russ) Whitehurst

 


Photo by Ward Morrison


We are delighted to announce that Grover J. (Russ) Whitehurst, founding director, Institute of Education Sciences (IES)—the research arm of the U.S. Department of Education—has been selected to receive the 2007 Peter H. Rossi Award for Contributions to the Theory or Practice of Program Evaluation. (To read his acceptance remarks, please click here.)

In the words of one nominator, “Russ has transformed the nature and content of educational research in ways that Peter [Rossi] would have applauded. . . . [I]t is widely acknowledged that in 6+ years he has had a large and positive impact on what has been a less than stellar research area. For reasons I describe in this letter, that impact is likely to grow over time.”

During his career as a researcher, Whitehurst was the author or editor of five books and published more than 100 scholarly papers on language and pre-reading development in children. One of the techniques he developed, dialogic reading, is a widely used method of shared picture book reading that has been shown in randomized trials to enhance children’s language development. Throughout his academic career, his research focused on the development of knowledge and programs that might have a direct influence on the lives of children and families.

Those goals continue in his role as the first director of IES. The Institute was established within the U.S. Department of Education by the Education Sciences Reform Act of 2002. IES conducts, supports, and disseminates research on education practices that improve academic achievement, statistics on the condition of education in the United States, and evaluations of the effectiveness of federal and other education programs.

The legislation establishing IES specified that Whitehurst, then serving as assistant secretary for educational research and improvement within the U.S. Department of Education, could be appointed by the President for a six year term as director, with subsequent directors to be confirmed by the Senate. The President appointed Whitehurst on November 21, 2002.

Whitehurst obtained a Ph.D. in experimental child psychology in 1970 from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Just prior to beginning federal service, he was leading professor of psychology and pediatrics and chairman of the department of psychology at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. He also served on the faculty of the University of New South Wales in Australia and was Academic Vice President of the Merrill-Palmer Institute in Detroit. He was editor-in-chief of two leading scientific journals in his field.

As one of Whitehurst’s nominators concluded: “ NCLB has upped the stakes on using research to improve student achievement, and policymakers and practitioners want sound research guidance to inform their decisions. It is an important goal, and no one feels the burden of this more than Russ. In six years he has tirelessly used his opportunity as Director of IES to drive the entire education research field closer to that goal. In doing so, Russ has helped us all make huge improvements in our work.”


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