UCLA Receives Governor’s Award for Innovation in Higher Education

$2.5M will support UCLA’s Teaching Schools Initiative, grounded at the UCLA Community School and expanding to other sites.

Marcelo Suárez-Orozco, Wasserman Dean, UCLA Graduate School of Education & Information Studies has announced that UCLA was one of the recipients of only 14 Awards for Innovation in Higher Education, receiving an award of $2.5M. The Award recognizes the innovation of the UCLA Teaching Schools Initiative and the work of UCLA and its Graduate School of Education & Information Studies to strengthen K-12 education and build stronger pathways from K-12 to college and career success. The recipients of the award were decided by a committee appointed by Governor Jerry Brown, which includes members of the State Board of Education, the Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges, a trustee of the California State University, a regent of the University of California, an appointee from the Senate Committee on Rules, and an appointee of the Speaker of the Assembly.

“This historic award is truly transformational,” says Suárez-Orozco. “It is a tribute to UCLA’s origins in public education, and it reaffirms our destiny to transform public education in Los Angeles, in California, and beyond; above all, for the most vulnerable and marginalized communities.”

The UCLA Teaching Schools Initiative, as established by UCLA’s Graduate School of Education & Information Studies, mirrors the goal of Chancellor Gene Block to use the resources of one of the world’s top research universities toward solving the most critical issues facing California. UCLA Ed & IS has launched a series of innovative approaches aimed at stronger K – 12 pathways to college and career, with a clear focus on the state’s underserved children, and will continue in these efforts with the help of the Governor’s Award for Innovation in Higher Education, which will provide the funding to continue and build upon these programs.

UCLA is creating a network of teaching schools – UCLA K-12 partner schools that will serve a similar role as the teaching hospital system that transformed the nation’s medical training and practices. By creating these teaching schools, UCLA is establishing an ecosystem of best practices shaped by scientific research and ongoing evaluation for the state of California. These teaching schools are designed to create, evaluate, and demonstrate innovative instructional strategies, to shape stronger teacher education programs, to ensure continual learning among current educational professionals, to increase the college-ready rate of high school students and reduce the need for remedial coursework in college, and to inform educational policy.

The development of a teaching school model has strong historical roots in UCLA Lab School, the preK-6 school founded on the UCLA campus more than 125 years ago.  The current Teaching Schools Initiative launched in 2009 with the creation of UCLA Community School, a K – 12 partnership school with LAUSD that is located in the underserved Pico-Union/Koreatown community.  These schools provide sites where a cadre of UCLA’s top education faculty experts can work side by side with expert K – 12 teachers and leaders to inform innovative classroom practices. The school’s ongoing and strategic research and development will serve as a resource for public schools throughout California that are faced with the challenges of educating today’ s children and youth. UCLA Community School has become a model of best quality public education for students traditionally underrepresented in the state’s higher education system, and in its first five years, demonstrated an unprecedented increase in college-bound graduates, many whom are the first in their families to pursue higher education.

“We have learned a lot about creating a culture of learning and improvement for all members of our school community,” says Karen Hunter Quartz, the school’s research director, “and this new award will help us deepen and extend this work.”

Equity, excellence, ethics, and engagement are the principles animating the work of UCLA ’s Teaching Schools Initiative, with four goals in mind: 1) A partnership with the Los Angeles Unified School District , local high – need communities, and other UC campuses to create and sustain a set of innovative Teaching Schools that leverage change throughout California. 2) Teacher preparation is advanced by a residency model of learning across a set of Teaching Schools. 3) The creation, evaluation, and demonstration of innovative K – 12 instructional strategies and programs within these schools prepare all students to graduate from high school, college and career-ready. 4) Finally, UCLA’s Teaching Schools Initiative will increase the number of underrepresented minority students that graduate from high school college and career ready, enroll in two and four – year colleges, transfer from two to four year colleges, and graduate from four – year colleges.

UCLA Ed & IS possesses the high level of expertise and knowledge resources to take on the work of developing a new UCLA Community School in South Los Angeles as a priority initiative. By informing teacher education programs, and sharing best practices and successes with policy leaders, the UCLA Teaching Schools Initiative promises to serve as a resource for urban schools throughout California and nationally.


Above: UCLA Community School has established a college-bound culture in the previously underserved Pico-Union neighborhood. In five years, the number of students to pursue higher education tripled – most were the first in their families to go to college.

Photo by Jennifer Young