Former Dean, Graduate School of Education, Stanford University
Former Under Secretary, U.S. Department of Education
Marshall (Mike) S. Smith is currently a visiting scholar at The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Prior to that Mike had been the Under Secretary of the Department of Education since 1993. As Under Secretary, Smith has been a key player in helping define the Administration’s education agenda, which focuses on the need to raise educational achievement for all students and increase their opportunities to pursue postsecondary education and lifelong learning. He directed the development of the Goals 2000: Educate America Act, the Improving America’s Schools Act, and the School-to-Work Opportunities Act — landmark legislation that became law with strong bipartisan support in Congress.
He led the Administration’s efforts to pass the Student Loan Reform Act, which created the Direct Student Loan Program. He also conceptualized and directed the transformation of the Office of Student Financial Assistance into the first performance-based organization (PBO) in the federal government.
As Under Secretary, Smith has helped define a new federal role in American education — one in which the federal government serves as a supportive partner to local districts and states as they seek to carry out standards-based reforms. He has advanced the idea that all students can benefit from higher standards and challenging curricula. He has stressed that intensive, sustained professional development for teachers and principals is essential to successful education reform. He has advocated the idea of flexibility for schools and teachers so that they can improve teaching and learning, coupled with greater accountability for student performance. And he has emphasized the importance of strong partnerships among parents, schools, communities, higher education, and business.
Smith’s published writings cover a wide range of issues, including desegregation, early childhood programs, effective schools, and the effect of federal policies on state and local practice. In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, he articulated a framework for standards-based school reform. His recent interests have focused on the education of children at risk of school failure and turning around low-performing schools.
Prior to his appointment as Under Secretary, Smith was a professor of education and Dean of the Graduate School of Education at Stanford University. Previously, he was an associate professor at Harvard Graduate School of Education and a professor at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, where he also served as the Director of the Wisconsin Center for Education Research.
Smith earned both a master’s (1963) and a doctoral (1970) degree in measurement and statistics from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Smith has held several policy positions in the federal government prior to his current post, including serving as Chief of Staff to the first Secretary of Education. He has served as an adviser to the National Education Goals Panel and was a member of the National Council of Education Standards and Testing. He is currently a member of the National Academy of Education.