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 Graduate School of Teaching & Learning, founded as the WW Academy, 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 Graduate School’s competency-based approach. At the same time, Graduate School 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 and Playful Journey Lab, have been working closely with Academy staff on buildout and implementation. In 2016, the Graduate School also hired its first Faculty Mentors and opened its first standalone offices on Thorndike Street in Cambridge, MA.
“For me the WW Graduate School is a dream come true. 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 Graduate School 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 Graduate School’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 Graduate School in June 2017 to test, co-develop, and refine its innovative program. During the Design Year, the Graduate School 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.
In September 2018, the Design Fellows, along with ten newly admitted teacher candidates, enrolled as the WW Graduate School’s first class of teacher candidates. The Woodrow Wilson Graduate School was granted status as an independent 501(c)(3) organization in December 2018.
In 2019 the WW Academy officially changed its name to the Woodrow Wilson Graduate School of Teaching & Learning and conferred its first degrees.