TIPSHEET: U.Va. Education Dean Pianta Can Comment on Obama Education Secretary Pick, to be Announced Today

December 16, 2008 — Robert Pianta, dean of the University of Virginia's Curry School of Education and an adviser to President-elect Barack Obama's transition team, is available to comment on Obama's nomination today of Chicago schools executive Arne Duncan as Secretary of Education.

Pianta can be reached at 434-243-5481 or via e-mail at His Web page, contains a brief biography.

Obama will introduce Duncan this morning at Dodge Renaissance Academy, a Chicago elementary school that the two visited together in 2005, according to news reports.

Duncan, 44, has been chief executive of the Chicago public schools since 2001, leading the nation's third-largest school district, which has more than 400,000 students.

More About Pianta:

The Novartis Professor of Education and director of U.Va.'s Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning, Pianta and his team of education researchers have developed the Classroom Assessment Scoring System, which has been tested and proven effective in several large national studies.

Pianta was featured in Malcolm Gladwell's Dec. 15 New Yorker article, "Most Likely To Succeed." The article explores what it takes to identify and develop successful teachers, comparing the process to scouting future professional quarterbacks and savvy financial advisers.

Pianta recently wrote an op-ed as an open letter to Obama on the importance of improving education and keeping it a top national priority. In it he writes, "Good teachers are key. If we want to improve our students' learning, we need to improve the quality of teachers and of teaching. Research conducted by the Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning at the University of Virginia shows that only about 30 percent of teachers really hit the mark in terms of offering students the kind of stimulating, challenging and engaging experiences that foster learning."