Rachel Fish, assistant professor of special education in the Department of Teaching and Learning, has been selected as a 2020 National Academy of Education (NAEd)/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellow. Along with the NAEd’s dissertation fellowship and research development awards, these programs provide funding and professional development to early-career researchers whose projects address critical issues in the history, theory, or practice of formal or informal education, at the national and international levels.
According to NAEd President Gloria Ladson-Billings, "The NAEd/Spencer Fellowship Programs cultivate the next generation of education scholars by funding their research projects and providing resources to strengthen their research and research training, including mentorship from NAEd members. We consider these fellows to be among the best in their respective fields, and I look forward to working with them in the coming year."
This year 229 scholars were considered and 30 fellows were selected.
Fish’s research examines the role of special and gifted education in stratification by race, gender, socioeconomic status and linguistic background. She uses multiple methods including experimental and quasi-experimental methods, observational data analyses, and interviews, to understand how students are sorted into special and gifted education programs, and how these services ameliorate and exacerbate inequalities. In another line of research, she focuses on how school-based social ties relate to inequality, examining parent-teacher relationships, teacher social networks, parent involvement and social capital in schools.
In the below excerpt, Fish discusses the research she will take on as a fellow:
The Emergence of Disability and Giftedness: Race, School Context, and the Perception of Student Needs
Researchers have noted racial disparities in special and gifted education programs for decades, yet a polarized debate focuses on whether schools are inappropriately identifying disabilities and giftedness at differential rates, or whether the disparities reflect broader racial inequalities. A growing body of research examines the role of school context, and calls for examination of the construction of disability and giftedness in schools. In this project, I examine how students’ strengths and challenges become identified as disabilities/giftedness, and how student race, gender, linguistic status, socioeconomic status, and school context shape this process. My multi-methods project synthesizes my quantitative research on racial disparities in special and gifted education in Wisconsin, and brings it together with a deep exploration of processes and meaning-making through interviews with over 100 Wisconsin teachers and parents about children suspected of having (or not having) disabilities or giftedness.
Natasha Strassfeld is an assistant professor of special education in Steinhardt’s Department of Teaching and Learning. Strassfeld’s research examines service delivery to parents and students with disabilities in the special education services and accommodations process, minority disproportionate representation, special education policy and law, and juvenile justice.