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Linda Skrla

Pacific faculty member Linda Skrla recieved the 2017 Edwin M. Bridges Award

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Academics

Benerd School of Education faculty receives distinguished award, publishes new research

Nov 30, 2017

Linda Skrla, a national leader in providing fair and equal education and academic success to all schoolchildren, this month received the Edwin M. Bridges Award, one of the top honors in the country for educators.

Skrla, professor and chair of the Department of Educational Administration and Leadership in Pacific's Benerd School of Education, was honored at the University Council for Educational Administration (UCEA) annual convention on Nov. 16 in Denver, Colorado. The Bridges Award is given annually for outstanding research or development that "contributes to our knowledge and understanding of how best to prepare and support future generations of educational leaders," according to the organization's website. UCEA is a consortium of 98 doctoral-granting, higher education institutions committed to advancing the preparation and practice of educational leaders for the benefit of schools and children.

"I am very pleased and grateful to have my research and that of my colleagues recognized by UCEA," Skrla said "Our work has focused is on improving school leadership so that children and youth from all backgrounds can have equitable access and support in schools that leads to life success. Pacific is an ideal university at which to do such work, given our talented, dedicated students and our institutional values around rigorous academics and service to the community."

It has been an eventful fall for Skrla. Besides receiving the Bridges Award, she recently co-published new research and had her latest co-authored book reach best-seller.

Gerri M. Maxwell, a former doctoral advisee of Skrla's and currently an associate professor and department chair at Texas A&M University, Kingsville, wrote in nominating Skrla, "With regard to professional development focused on building leadership capacity in its broadest sense, Linda has published as either author or co-author a series of books on equity, including 'Leadership for Equity and Excellence, Using Equity Audits to Create Equitable and Excellent Schools' and 'Using Equity Audits to Reach and Teach All Students.' It is this group of texts collectively that have contributed notably to leadership preparation in the field as research-based tools for leadership education. The accessibility and readability of these texts along with practical application to both public school and university settings thus merit recognition in the field of leadership."

In October, Skrla co-authored a paper releasing the findings of a recent study examining the best evidence-based ways to close the achievement gap between Caucasian and African-American students. She conducted the study with Roger Goddard of Ohio State University and Serena Salloum of Ball State University. Their results appeared in the Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk.

The study involved 13,472 students and 2,041 of their teachers in 47 schools. Student achievement in each school was measured by scores on state-mandated mathematics tests in fourth and fifth grades. The research team found that the more teachers believed they could make a difference, the better all students scored on achievement tests regardless of race.

"To learn about the operation of collective efficacy, we designed a mixed-methods study, situated in the elementary and middle schools of one large urban district in Texas. We also drew upon focus group data collected at 6 schools. We found that collective efficacy was associated with an increase in mathematics achievement as well a 50 percent reduction in the academic disadvantage experienced by Black students. Focus groups revealed the importance of school principals in supporting teacher collaboration and peer observation as well as a sustained focus on instructional improvement."

Also in October, Skrla learned that her latest book, co-authored with Ronald Hallett, associate professor in the Benerd School of Education "Serving Students Who Are Homeless: A Resource Guide for Schools, Districts, and Educational Leaders" received "best-seller" status from the book's publisher, Teachers College Press.

These collective contributions to the research of educational administration and leadership led Joseph Johnson Jr., dean of the College of Education at San Diego State University, to write in his letter supporting Skrla's Bridges Award nomination that "Linda Skrla's latest works address issues of educational equity for children and youth experiencing homelessness. By examining institutional action and inaction when children, youth, and families face the challenges of homelessness, Dr. Skrla continues to push us to think deeply about how schools might be structured to ensure the success of every student. As she does so, she continues to build upon the highest ideals of our profession and exemplify the characteristics that are the hallmark of the Edwin M. Bridges Award."