In 1960, John I. Goodlad was appointed the director of UES and soon after also became dean of the Graduate School of Education. A leader in the non-graded school movement, Goodlad encouraged the implementation of team teaching and multi-age grouping. His writings and the work being done at the school stimulated these practices throughout the United States.
Madeline Hunter, principal from 1962 to 1982, developed the Instructional Theory into Practice teaching model, a direct instruction program that identified seven components for teaching. The model was implemented in thousands of schools throughout the United States; in some years as many as 15,000 educators visited UES to observe the theory in practice.
In the 1980s, Director Richard C. Williams and Principal Hal Hyman (1985–1994) worked with the faculty to explore aspects of the school reform movement. They experimented with restructuring the school’s organization to strengthen the professional role of teachers and to encourage participatory decision making. They formed teacher work groups to coordinate curriculum development in language arts, visual arts, science, and mathematics across age levels. And they created the Extended Day Program to provide after-school care integrated with the school’s philosophy of progressive teaching and learning.
In the 1990s, the Graduate School of Education & Information Studies established a research center within the elementary school. The center, now known as CONNECT, facilitates collaboration among teachers and UCLA faculty and graduate students to explore issues related to improving education for diverse student populations.
In 2009, the school was renamed UCLA Lab School to highlight the school’s mission as a laboratory for research and public engagement.
Throughout the years, UCLA Lab School teachers and researchers have done important work in the areas of character education, technology integration, inquiry-based learning, and educating students for the 21st century.
Our Safe School system and curriculum, designed to build character and manage conflict among students, was developed beginning in the 1990s. It was a collaboration by a team of teachers led by Demonstration Teacher Ava de la Sota and Psychology Professor Jana Juvonen. Community values, outlined in Safe School Guidelines, are interwoven into the curriculum and the life of the school. Problems and conflicts are approached as teachable moments that can be used to reduce future negative behaviors.
As an early proponent of integrating computer technology into the teaching and learning process, UCLA Lab School was chosen in 1999 by NCREL, a regional laboratory of the U.S. Dept. of Education, to work with Department of Defense Schools to help them integrate technology into instruction. UCLA Lab School teachers helped develop curricula and a website to support the Pacific Bell/UCLA Initiatives for 21st Century Learning in 2000.
In 1994, the Learning in Two Languages program (LITL) was created based on the values that a student’s primary language is a resource to be nurtured, supported, and developed, and it should act as the primary vehicle for literacy learning. Spanish was chosen because of its integral role in the culture, community, and history of Los Angeles. Under the leadership of Principal Norma Silva (2010–2018) and in partnership with UCLA Professors Alison Bailey and Rashmita Mistry, the program evolved to become the Dual Language Program. Since 2013, the Dual Language Program has followed the 90/10 language immersion model of instruction, which research shows to be the most successful in fostering bilingualism, biliteracy, and biculturalism.
A basic tenet of a UCLA Lab School education is the recognition that learners benefit from an environment where all participants feel a sense of belonging. Students of all abilities and learning differences work together in our classroom communities. Since 2018, UCLA Lab School has been developing an inclusion model with the goal of sharing these practices widely.