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William  Schmidt - Michigan State University. East Lansing, MI, US

William Schmidt

University Distinguished Professor of Education and Statistics | Michigan State University


Professor Schmidt's research focuses on policy issues related to K-12 math education and the effects of curriculum on academic achievement




William  Schmidt Publication William  Schmidt Publication William  Schmidt Publication




A conversation with William H. Schmidt Prolepsis with Dr. William Schmidt, MSU Distinguished Professor



William H. Schmidt is a University Distinguished Professor at Michigan State University and director of the Center for the Study of Curriculum Policy. He serves as co director of the Education Policy Center and holds faculty appointments in Statistics and Education. Previously he served as National Research Coordinator and Executive Director of the US National Center which oversaw participation of the United States in the IEA sponsored Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). He worked on PISA 2012 toward developing the definition of mathematics literacy, as well as the development of opportunity to learn measures. He also has published in numerous journals including the Journal of the American Statistical Association, Education Researcher, Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, American Affairs Journal, Journal of Educational Statistics, Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, Journal of Curriculum Studies, and the Journal of Educational Measurement. He has co-authored ten books including Why Schools Matter, Inequality for All, and Schooling Across the Globe: What We Have Learned From Sixty Years of Mathematics and Science International Assessments. His current research interests focus on the effects of curriculum on academic achievement. He is also concerned with educational policy related to mathematics, science and testing in general. Dr. Schmidt received the 1998 Willard Jacobson Lectureship from The New York Academy of Sciences and is a member of the National Academy of Education. Dr. Schmidt was also selected as one of the first to receive the Thomas J. Alexander fellowship for work on PISA 2012. In 2009 he was elected in the first group of Fellows in the American Educational Research Association. He received his A.B. in mathematics from Concordia College in River Forrest, IL and his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in psychometrics and applied statistics. He was also awarded an honorary doctorate degree from Concordia University in 1997.

Industry Expertise (2)



Areas of Expertise (7)

Opportunity to Learn Mathematics

Assessment and Psychometrics

International Mathematics Education Studies


Educational Policy

K-12 Mathematics Education

Inequality in Education

Accomplishments (2)

American Educational Research Association Fellow (professional)

The American Educational Research Association, or AERA, was founded in 1916 as a professional organization representing educational researchers in the United States and around the world

OECD Thomas J. Alexander Fellow (professional)

Recognition from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

Education (3)

University of Chicago: Ph.D., Psychometrics

University of Chicago: Ph.D., Applied Statistics

Concordia College: B.S., Mathamatics

Affiliations (1)

  • National Academy of Education

News (5)

Hate algebra? Michigan State University has good news

Detroit Free Press  


But students aren’t likely to succeed in the new classes or in post-college life without some algebra fundamentals, said William Schmidt, director of the MSU College of Education's Center for the Study of Curriculum. “Students who come to college with real weaknesses on the formal math side may not benefit fully from the quantitative lessons,” he said. While every job doesn’t require a well-honed knowledge of advanced math, Schmidt said, learning the fundamentals is essential to problem-solving. “The logic of thinking algebraically builds ways of thinking about problems, allowing us to engage in the practical aspects of mathematics,” he said. “It’s pretty tough (to do so) without it.”...

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MSU education scholars named top influencers

MSU Today  


University Distinguished Professor William Schmidt at #31, a jump from #69 last year. Schmidt directs the Center for the Study of Curriculum and co-directs the Education Policy Center at MSU. His work focuses on the impact of curriculum and standards, particularly in math...

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Failed mission: How schools worsen inequality

MSU Today  online


“The belief that schools are the great equalizer, helping students overcome the inequalities of poverty, is a myth,” said William Schmidt, University Distinguished professor of statistics and education at MSU and lead investigator on the study.

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MSU researcher launches common core tool for teachers

MSU Today  online


Michigan State University researcher William Schmidt has created a free web-based tool to help American educators teach the Common Core State Standards in mathematics.

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Tough standards needed for math teachers

MSU Today  


New research led by William Schmidt shows some teacher education programs in the United States rank among the best in the world, but the programs that perform the worst are producing more than 60 percent of the nation’s future middle school math teachers. “Some teachers are getting a world-class preparation, but far too many just don’t have the mathematics background they need to succeed in the classroom,” said Schmidt, University Distinguished Professor of education and statistics. “We have such large variation that we really need to think seriously about standards for teacher preparation.”...

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Journal Articles (7)

The role of subject-matter content in teacher preparation: an international perspective for mathematics

Journal of Curriculum Studies

2017 International comparative studies in education provide a fresh perspective on K-12 education policy by enabling countries to learn from each other’s approaches. The recently conducted Teacher Education and Development Study—Mathematics provides a worldwide lens by which to examine the role of subject-matter in the preparation of US teachers of mathematics for primary and lower secondary students. More specifically, a previous study looking at the international top-performing teacher preparation programmes identified a common set of learning experiences (topics/content) related to mathematics.

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The Trade-Off between Excellence and Equality: What International Assessments Tell Us

Georgetown Journal of International Affairs

2016 This paper uses PISA data to explore cross-national comparisons of mathematics performance and educational inequality, with a focus on those countries that are characterized by high PISA scores and greater equity. The authors discuss the dangers of giving too much attention to a single year’s high performer on a given international assessment. Instead, they argue that the PISA and TIMSS should be analyzed with a more nuanced set of indicators and with greater sensitivity to long-term trends. This approach can help generate new research hypotheses, identify groups of countries worthy of detailed study, and yield fresh insights on educational policy.

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Influencing public school policy in the United States: the role of large-scale assessments

Research Papers in Education

2016 The authors review the influence of state, national and international large-scale assessments (LSAs) on education policy and research. They distinguish between two main uses of LSAs: as a means for conducting research that informs educational reform and LSAs as a tool for implementing standards and enforcing accountability. The authors discuss the influence of the international TIMSS study on US mathematics standards and the development of the Common Core as an example of LSA’s potential for research-based reform.

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The Role of Schooling in Perpetuating Educational Inequality: An International Perspective

Educational Researcher

2015 In this paper, student-level indicators of opportunity to learn (OTL) included in the 2012 Programme for International Student Assessment are used to explore the joint relationship of OTL and socioeconomic status (SES) to student mathematics literacy. Using multiple methods, we find consistent evidence that (a) OTL has a significant relationship to student outcomes, (b) a positive relationship exists between SES and OTL, and (c) roughly a third of the SES relationship to literacy is due to its association with OTL. These relationships hold across most countries and both within and between schools within countries.

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Preparing Future Math Teachers


2011 The U.S. President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology recommends that the federal government provide support over the next decade to recruit and train at least 100,000 new science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) teachers of middle school (ages 11 to 13) and high school.

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Curriculum coherence: an examination of US mathematics and science content standards from an international perspective

Journal of Curriculum Studies

2005 In recent years, US curriculum policy has emphasized standards‐based conceptions of curricula in mathematics and science. This paper explores the data from the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) to argue that the presence of content standards is not sufficient to guarantee curricula that lead to high‐quality instruction and achievement. An examination of the content topics covered in each grade of a group of six of the highest‐achieving TIMSS countries in mathematics and science shows a pattern in which new topics are gradually introduced, are a part of instruction for a few grades, and then often leave the curriculum as separate topics.

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Who Takes What Math and in Which Track? Using TIMSS to Characterize U.S. Students’ Eighth-Grade Mathematics Learning Opportunities

Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis

2001 This article examines the range of eighth-grade mathematics learning opportunities in the United States, drawing on data gathered for the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). Sources of variation in the provision of learning opportunities are identified, and patterns in eighth-grade mathematics course offerings are compared across schools. Comparison of students’ learning opportunities includes consideration of the specific course in which they were enrolled, the type of textbook employed for the course, and the proportion of time teachers devoted to teaching specific topics. Analyses revealed a mismatch between the mathematics course title and the textbook employed in the course for nearly 30% of U.S. eighth-grade students. Course-textbook combinations demonstrated significant relationships with the time teachers devoted to specific topics and the international topic difficulty score. Some differences in mathematics learning opportunities were found on the basis of a school’s location (urban, rural, suburban), size, and percentage of minority enrollment.

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