University of Wisconsin–Madison


William J. Reese is the Carl F. Kaestle Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) Professor and Vilas Research Professor of Educational Policy Studies and History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  He specializes in the history of American and European education.  Prof. Reese received his B.A. in history from Wilkes College (PA), his M.A. in history from Bowling Green State University, and his Ph.D. in educational policy studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  While a student at Wisconsin-Madison, he studied under Carl Kaestle, Herbert Kliebard, Jurgen Herbst, and Michael Apple.  He previously served as a professor at the University of Delaware and Indiana University at Bloomington before returning to his alma mater in 1995.

Prof. Reese is currently a fellow of the National Academy of Education and the American Educational Research Association.  He served as president of the History of Education Society during the 1999-2000 academic year.  Prof. Reese is the author of several books and numerous articles on the history of American education, and his research has been supported by generous grants from the Spencer Foundation.  His latest book, Testing Wars in the Public Schools: A Forgotten History (Harvard University Press, 2013) garnered the O.L. Davis, Jr. Distinguished Book Award from the American Association for Teaching and Curriculum and the Outstanding Book Award from the History of Education Society.

Prof. Reese teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on a variety of topics in the history of education, the American Progressive era, and the history of childhood.  His current research involves two projects – a history of the Washington, D.C. public schools and a biography of Zerah Colburn, a 19th century mathematical prodigy.