Pitt Research Professor Isabel Beck Elected to National Academy of Education

Issue Date: 
April 14, 2008


Isabel L. Beck, emeritus professor in the University of Pittsburgh School of Education and senior scientist in Pitt’s Learning Research and Development Center (LRDC), has been elected to the National Academy of Education (NAEd).

“The academy is the highest-level body devoted to supporting and maintaining the very best educational research,” said Alan Lesgold, School of Education dean. “This is truly U. S. education’s highest honor, and we are extremely fortunate to have it bestowed on one of our best and dearest colleagues. Among the approximately 200 members of the academy are Pitt colleagues Bob Glaser, Jim Greeno, Lauren Resnick, and now Isabel.”

Beck was an elementary school teacher before beginning her distinguished academic career. Internationally known for her research in reading, Beck has engaged in extensive research on decoding, vocabulary, and comprehension and has published more than 100 articles and several books. Bringing Words to Life: Robust Vocabulary Instruction (The Guilford Press, 2002), with Margaret G. McKeown and Linda Kucan, has become a best seller.

Among Beck’s publications are Making Sense of Phonics: The Hows and Whys (The Guilford Press, 2005); Improving Comprehension With Questioning the Author: A Fresh and Expanded View of a Powerful Approach (Theory and Practice, 2006), with McKeown; and Creating Robust Vocabulary: Frequently Asked Questions and Extended Examples (The Guilford Press, May 2008), with McKeown and Kucan, which responds to readers’ feedback and interest by providing more examples and day-to-day strategies.

Her numerous awards include the National Reading Conference’s 1988 Oscar S. Causey Award for outstanding research and the 2000 Contributing Researcher Award from the American Federation of Teachers for “bridging the gap between research and practice,” which is Beck’s hallmark. In 1995, she was inducted into the International Reading Association’s Reading Hall of Fame and received its William S. Gray Award in 2002.

Beck earned her degrees in education—the Bachelor of Science in 1953, the Master of Science in 1963, and the Ph.D. in 1973—all at the University of Pittsburgh.

The NAEd is dedicated to the advancement of the highest quality education research and its use in policy formulation and practice. Founded in 1965, the academy consists of up to 200 U.S. members and up to 25 foreign associates who are elected on the basis of outstanding scholarship or outstanding contributions to education. Since its establishment, the academy has undertaken numerous commissions and study panels that typically include both NAEd members and other scholars with expertise in a particular area of inquiry.

The next annual meeting of the academy will be held at the University of Washington in Seattle Oct. 17-18.