College of Education

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Founded in 1905, the College of Education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is renowned for its groundbreaking research, the preparation of leaders in the field of education, and its worldwide impact.

College Highlights

Education at Illinois has been home to major influences and firsts in the field of education:

School of Education is founded in 1905 as one of the first land-grant, researched-based schools of education.

1920: College organizes the “First Annual School Superintendents Meeting,” which was intended to bridge ties between practitioners and university faculty.

1948: Professor Lee J. Cronbach develops the most frequently used measure of the reliability of a psychological or educational test called “Cronbach’s alpha.”

1950: College faculty members become leaders in the field of special education. Early publications by Samuel B. Kirk, Merle B. Karnes, and Winifred D. Kirk reach an international audience.

1951: Professor Max Beberman founds “new mathematics,” a method of teaching math that went beyond the usual rote learning.

1963: Dr. Samuel B. Kirk created the paradigm of “learning disabilities,” a common term used today. Based on his work federal legislation was passed that authorized the Head Start program, which provides educational, health, and social services to underprivileged preschoolers.

1964: Center for Instructional Research and Curriculum Evaluation (CIRCE) was created as a service and research agency within the College and University. CIRCE brings together outstanding researchers within the College and worldwide, with an educational evaluation focus that is shared with more than a hundred university centers, school districts, government centers, and for-profit research corporations.

1969: Lilian Katz co-founds the Illinois Association for the Education of Young Children, also serving as the organization’s first president. Katz also served as the director of the ERIC Clearinghouse on Elementary and Early Childhood Education, now known as the Early Childhood and Parenting Collaborative, for more than 30 years.     

1976: College becomes the coordinating center for the International Association for Evaluation of Educational Achievement Second International Mathematics Study. The study was one of the largest empirical investigations of comparative mathematics ever.

1976: With the guidance of Professor Richard Anderson and the U.S. Department of Education, College establishes the Center for the Study of Reading, with the goal of addressing high numbers of school children who were failing to learn how to read.

2005: The Goldstick Initiative for the Study of Communication Disorders is established. The endowment helps bridge communication gaps between special-needs children and their families, and it funds an annual lecture and doctoral fellowship.

College is home to the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment, the only organization that surveys the landscape of higher education learning outcomes nationally.

2008: Youth Literature Festival (YLF) established to celebrate the value of reading in the lives of youth. In 2014, YLF authors visited more than 70 schools and libraries in Champaign County and in five nearby counties, sharing their work and insights at assemblies, book discussions, readings, and writing workshops.   

1M+  students have benefited from the pioneering research of Illinois' Dr. Samuel Kirk in the field of special education.

History of the College of Education at the University of Illinois

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