Judith A Scott

Summary of Expertise

Literacy in preK-12 classrooms

Vocabulary acquisition and assessment

Word Consciousness

Writing in preK-12 classrooms

Multicultural Children’s Literature

Revamping the K-12 curriculum to make space

     for Indigenous perspectives.


I am a Professor Emerita who retired in 2021 after 22 years of service in the Education Department at UCSC. I am currently the Principal Investigator of the Central California Writing Project, a co-PI for the Critical Mission Project, author of a Children’s Picture book - written in conjunction with the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band – about Indigenous resistance and resilience, the Director of the Vocabulary Innovations in Education Consortium and a member of the UCSC Indigenous Faculty Networking group.  I also serve as a consultant for Google & Pinterest helping with learning assessment, and with other vocabulary related projects. I have been involved in Professional Development for teachers throughout my career. 


Before I retired, I served as the Chair of the Academic Senate Committee on Career Advising, the Chair of the Academic Senate Committee on Teaching, the Chair of Undergraduate Programs in Education, Graduate Director for the Education Department Ph.D. program and Chair of the Language, Literacy and Culture specialization. Prior to coming to UC-Santa Cruz, I was an Associate Professor at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada, from 1991-2000. 

Research Interests

I’m interested in creating classrooms environments where students and teachers pay attention to the power of words for communication and become curious about how words can convey meaning. I am also currently working to revamp the K-12 curriculum to make space for Indigenous perspectives. In both areas, I focus on effective teacher education within the context of language, literacy and culture and the integrated use of multicultural children’s literature and writing.

Biography, Education and Training

Ph.D. in Educational Psychology with a Learning & Instruction emphasis. 1991. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Center for the Study of Reading.

M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction. 1986. Education Department, UC-Davis.

B.A. in American Studies, UC- Davis. 1977. Emphasis in American Education.


Credentials: Multiple Subject Teaching Credential; Specialist Instruction Credential in Reading;

Single Subject Teaching Credential in Social Science. UC Davis.



Honors, Awards and Grants

2022 elected to join the Reading Hall of Fame. Induction ceremony in December.

2022 Recipient of the 2022 AERA Vocabulary Special Interest Group Notable Vocabulary Researcher Award

2016-present Fulbright Specialist Roster Candidate

2006 John Chorlton Manning Public School Service Award, International Reading Association


Principal Investigator, Central California Writing Project. UC-Office of the President (ongoing grants and contracts). 2008-present

Principal Investigator, Critical Missions Faculty Research Grant on developing an Amah Mutsun perspective for teaching about CA missions. MRPI from UC-Office of the President. 2020-present

Co-Principal Investigator, UCSC Humanities Lab for Critical Missions Studies. MRPI from UC-Office of the President. 2019-present

Principal Investigator, Alliance for Language and Literacy Instruction Effecting Standards (ALLIES). CA Postsecondary Commission. Improving Teacher Quality Grant 2011-2013.

Principal Investigator, Measuring vocabulary knowledge with testlets: A new tool for assessment. USDE: Institute of Education Sciences National Center for Educational Research. 2011-2012.

Principal Investigator, Explicit Scaffolding for Word Learning in Context through Multimedia Multilingual Word Annotation. The tecWAVE project (TEaching with Computers: Word Annotations for Vocabulary Education). USDE: Institute of Education Sciences National Center for Educational Research. 2008-2012

Principal Investigator, Vocabulary Development Through Writing: A Key to Academic Success.  The VINE project (Vocabulary Innovations in Education). USDE: Institute of Education Sciences National Center for Educational Research. 2006-2009 

Co-Director.  Instructional Partners of English Language Learners.  California Professional Development Institute. UC-Office of the President  2000-2003

Co-Facilitator.  Science and Literacy Intertwined.  Center for Research on Education, Diversity and Excellence.  2001-2002

Principal Investigator, Learning to value words: addressing vocabulary development through writing.  Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Research Grant. 1995-98

Principal Investigator, Improving independent word learning: the use and misuse of dictionary definitions.  Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Research Grant. 1992-1995

Selected Publications


Scott, J. (2021). When the Mission Bells Rang. An imagined fable based on historical facts developed in consultation with the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band. 

McKeown, M., Deane, P., Scott, J., Krovetz, R., & Lawless, R. (2017). Vocabulary assessment to support instruction: Building rich word-learning experiences. New York: Guilford.

Scott, J., Skobel, B. & Wells, J. (2008). The word conscious classroom: Building the vocabulary readers and writers need. NY: Scholastic- Theory into Practice series.

Lubliner, S. & Scott, J. (2008). Nourishing vocabulary. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

Anderson, R.C., Hiebert, E.H., Scott, J.A., & Wilkinson, I.A.G. (1985). Becoming a nation of readers: The report of the National Academy of Education’s Commission on Reading. Champaign, IL: Center for the Study of Reading.


Recent articles and publications: 

Thompson-Schrunk, A. & Scott, J. (2021). Decolonizing the Classroom Library: Using Windows and Mirrors to Disrupt Whiteness in Literacy Instruction. In A. VandeHei-Carter, N. Villanueva & C. Clark (Eds.). Multicultural curriculum transformation in literacy and language arts (pp. 181-203). Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.

Hiebert, E.H., Scott, J.A., Castaneda, R. & Spichtig, A. (2019). An analysis of the features of words that influence vocabulary difficulty. Education Sciences 9 (1), article number 8. 

Scott, J. A. (2015). Essential, enjoyable and effective: the what, why and how of powerful vocabulary instruction. Literacy Learning: The Middle Years, 23(1), 14-23

Teaching Interests

 My teaching covers all program areas, mentoring undergraduate, credential/MA and doctoral students. I am currenting mentoring Assistant Professor Lori Bruner at the University of Alabama through the Reading Hall of Fame Mentorship program.