Between 2002 and 2007, Arthur Levine—president of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, as well as architect and founding president of the WW Academy—conducted a comprehensive study of America’s education schools. His research resulted in three reports: Educating School Teachers, Educating School Leaders, and Educating Researchers. The vision for the Woodrow Wilson Academy of Teaching and Learning stems from these reports.
Following extensive preliminary studies in 2011–12, along with early support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, noted education experts helped to outline the WW Academy’s competency-based approach. At the same time, Academy leadership sought the right university to house the intended new graduate school, emphasizing the need for vision and expertise in cognitive science, STEM education, digital learning, gaming and simulation.
In June 2015 the partnership between MIT and Woodrow Wilson was announced. Since then, MIT faculty partners, through their Teaching Systems Lab, have been working closely with Academy staff on buildout and implementation. In 2016, the Academy also hired its first Faculty Mentors and opened its first standalone offices on Thorndike Street in Cambridge.
“For me the Academy is a dream come true. After years after decades of working on areas of education and teacher education, in particular, this is a chance to rethink it. Not to reform it, not to tinker with it, but to dream about what it would be like for… a global digital information economy.”
-Arthur Levine, Founding President
In July 2016, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education gave informal approval for the WW Academy to offer a post-graduate licensure program in middle and high school math, biology, and chemistry. The Massachusetts Board of Higher Education voted at the end of October 2017 to approve the WW Academy’s application for authorization to incorporate in Massachusetts and to offer the Master of Education (M.Ed.).
A group of ten Design Fellows joined the Woodrow Wilson Academy in June 2017 to test, co-develop, and refine its innovative program. During the Design Year, the Academy also built crucial partnerships with local school districts to provide clinical sites, mentoring supports, and an on-the-ground perspective on needs in teacher preparation.
James Tracy became the WW Academy’s first president in July 2018, as the Academy applied for 501(c)3 status and became an independent graduate school focusing on educator preparation. In September 2018, the Design Fellows, along with ten newly admitted teacher candidates, will enroll as the WW Academy’s first class of teacher candidates. The Woodrow Wilson Academy was granted status as an independent 501(c)(3) organization in December 2018.