Bradley Fogo (PhD ’10), a post-doctoral fellow in the Stanford Teacher Education Program, has been awarded the 2010-11 Phi Delta Kappa (PDK) International Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award. His dissertation examines the development of history-social science standards, tests, and curriculum frameworks in California over the last two decades.
“This study seeks to contribute to the ongoing conversation about standards-based reform for history education, a topic once again grabbing national headlines,” said Fogo, a graduate of the Curriculum Studies and Teacher Education doctoral program at Stanford University School of Education. “This historical analysis highlights the expansion of state educational policy making during this time and provides an example of how and why educational reforms evolve and change, at times become inconsistent, and often produce unintended consequences.”
Fogo will receive a $5,000 award from the Phi Delta Kappa (PDK) Educational Foundation and will be honored at the American Educational Researchers Association’s annual meeting in April. A summary of his study, “What Every Student Should Know and Be Able to Do: The Making of California’s Framework, Standards, and Tests for History-Social Science,” will appear in the May issue of Kappan.
“As a nation, we are mounting once again the standards horse, hoping against hope that it will carry us to the very place it failed to bring us to in the past,” said Sam Wineburg, Fogo’s dissertation supervisor and the Margaret Jacks Professor of Education and (by courtesy) of History at Stanford. “But Fogo’s dissertation, and the book he is preparing based on it, helps us understand that we are poised to commit the same errors that torpedoed our efforts in the past.”
“Few dissertations have direct implications for curriculum and policy,” Wineburg added. “Fogo’s does.”
Fogo examined the development and complex relationship between three influential state curriculum and assessment documents created over the past 25 years: The History-Social Science Framework for California Public Schools, the History-Social Science Content Standards for California Public Schools, and the California Standards Tests for History-Social Science. To track how the content standards, tests, and frameworks were created, he attended meetings, interviewed committee members and staff, and reviewed minutes and transcripts from meetings and public hearings, memos, sample test questions, technical reports, and various draft documents. His painstaking analysis uncovers how California’s state policies for history-social science education have been heavily subjected to ever-shifting trends in politics and pedagogy over the past two decades.
“This comparative case study argues that rather than serve as a model to emulate, the development of California’s history-social science framework, standards, and tests should provide a cautionary tale for those advocating new standards-based reforms,” said Fogo. “It claims that instead of working together symbiotically to promote history education, these documents present educators with inconsistent—even antagonistic—content, strategies, and tools to teach and assess history-social science.”
The PDK Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award is sponsored by the PDK Educational Foundation, which provides support for the projects of PDK International, a global association for educators. The award is given to a PDK International member whose dissertation best meets the criteria of sound scholarship and shows the most promise for improving education. Fogo’s dissertation beat out more than 40 submissions for the prize.