Prior Award Descriptions

Division L Awards: 2016

Division L of AERA is seeking nominations for the following awards that will be given at the Annual Meeting in April 2016 in Washington, D.C.


The 2016 winners of the Outstanding Policy Report Award are Daniel Losen, Cheri Hodsen, Michael Keith, Katrina Morrison, and Shakti Belway, for their report, Are We Closing the School Discipline Gap? 

Rationale: The Outstanding Policy Report Award will recognize an outstanding policy report that makes a contribution to education research and/or policy through its analysis, evaluation, and/or critique of education policy.

Selection/Eligibility: In 2016, the award will be given to a short policy report (less than 35 pages in length) that best reflects the following selection criteria:

▪    Quality: Reflects highest standards of research quality and excellence appropriate to the methods and methodology used.

▪    Relevance: Analyzes, evaluates, and/or critiques a timely and relevant education policy or policy issue (report will have been completed after November 1, 2013)

▪    Impact: Demonstrates evidence that the report has been used by policymakers, influenced a public or policy debate, and/or advanced a research field.

To be eligible, the report must have been completed after November 1, 2013 and at least one author must be a member of Division L.

Nomination Process: Nominations must be submitted by the report author, user, or other reader of the work no later than December 31, 2015, and include the following (1) a nomination letter from a Division L member, (2) a PDF version of the report, and (3) evidence of the report’s impact.

Please email nomination materials to Casssandra Guarino, Chair of the Outstanding Policy Report Award Committee, at by December 31, 2015, using the subject line: "Division L Outstanding Policy Report." Other members of the committee are Lucrecia Santibanez, Claremont Graduate University, and Michael Gottfried, University of California, Santa Barbara.


The 2016 winner of the outstanding dissertation award is Daniela Torre (Ph.D., Vanderbilt), for her dissertation, How Classroom Context Impacts the Academic Achievement of English Learners in a New Immigrant Destination.

DeeAnn Grove (Ph.D., University of Iowa) received honorable mention for her dissertation, An Issue of "Special Opportunity": The Politicalization of Education in Presidential Election Campaigns, 1968-2012.

Rationale: The purpose of the AERA Division L Outstanding Dissertation Award is to recognize the exceptional research accomplishments of recent doctoral graduates.

Eligibility: To be eligible, dissertations must have been completed and successfully defended between August 16, 2014 and August 31, 2015.

Dissertations employing any theoretical and methodological orientation may be nominated as long as they make an important contribution to education policy. At the time the dissertation is being considered, the author must be a member of Division L of AERA.

Nomination Process: Nominations must be submitted by a faculty member of the nominee's doctoral degree granting institution by December 31, 2015. The nomination package should include a nomination letter, 3-4 page summary of the dissertation, copy of the dissertation, and current contact information for the nominee.

The required information should be sent electronically to Peter Youngs, Chair of the Division L Outstanding Dissertation Award, at by December 31, 2015, using the subject line "Division L Dissertation Award." Dissertations must be sent as an Adobe PDF file. Nomination packages will then be forwarded to the award selection committee. Other members of the committee are Kate Destler, George Mason University; Morgaen Donaldson, University of Connecticut; Madeline Mavrogordato, Michigan State University; and Catherine Horn, University of Houston. 


The recipient of the 2016 Early Career Award is Judith Scott-Clayton (Columbia University). Professor Scott-Clayton is a highly productive and exceptional scholar whose research focuses on how to improve college access and success for socioeconomically disadvantaged students. Forward thinking, her work centers on understanding the relationship between education and future outcomes, the challenges students face in navigating the postsecondary system, and how policies can most effectively provide relief for those most in need. Specifically, she is interested in two major areas; financial aid and academic remediation at community colleges. A superb analyst, she has a “nose for policy questions,” is careful and cautious in how she analyzes data, thoughtful in her evaluation skills, and “has the ability to articulate real-world policy solutions that are practical, feasible and timely.” Her work in the policy arena is quite remarkable, having served already on prestigious committees, one of which is on Rethinking Pell, is extensively quoted in social media, comments frequently on NPR, testified before the U.S. Senate, and her New York Times Economix blog has received considerable attention. As one of her letter writers reports, “in her relatively short career she has already had a direct and substantial effect on the education millions of students receive,” which is quite a testament to engaging in work with a real impact!

Rationale: The award will recognize a scholar whose initial career (the first seven years past the receipt of the doctorate) shows a high level of productivity. This productivity will be reflected in the quality and impact of the recipient’s research. The field of educational policy research has generated a number of excellent researchers who deserve broad recognition. This award will be offered every other year and will alternate with the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Selection/Eligibility: In selecting a winner, the criteria to be considered will be the quality and impact of the candidate’s work. The winning candidate should have received the doctorate no more than seven years before the time when nominations for the award are due.

Nomination Process: To nominate a candidate, there must be a nominating letter and two supporting letters. These letters should describe the candidate’s contributions to the field of educational policy. They should describe the quality of the research, including--as appropriate--its rigor, insight, contribution to policy, and/or contribution to policy debates. Nominations should be sent electronically to Barbara Schneider, Chair of the Division L Early Career Award Committee, at by December 31, 2015, using the subject line "Division L Early Career Award in Educational Policy." Other committee members are of the committee are Stella Flores, New York University; Eric Grodsky, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Julie Kochanek, American Institutes for Research; and Ruth Turley, Rice University.

Review/Selection Process: The Awards Committee of Division L will consist of the overall chair and a co-chair for each award. The Awards Committee will identify four members of the Early Career Award Subcommittee. The co-chair for the Early Career Subcommittee and the four additional members will review nominated reports and make the final award. Members of the Early Career Achievement Subcommittee will be selected to ensure that there is no conflict of interest and that representation of a wide range of Division members and educational constituencies is assured. Each committee member reviews the packages of letters for all candidates. By individual ballot, each committee member will make a global ranking of the nominated candidates with the top report receiving a “1”. After reviewing and sharing the ranks to the committee members, the subcommittee co-chair will schedule a conference call to discuss the rankings to reach a consensus on the awardee. Awards will only be made when at least one candidate is of sufficiently high quality as to deserve this recognition.