Dr. Lytle began her career in education as an English teacher in public secondary schools in Massachusetts and California and as a Peace Corps volunteer in Manila, Philippines. At Penn since the early 1970s, she began as a supervisor of secondary English interns and later, as a faculty member, was co-holder of the Joseph L. Calihan Term Chair in Education, awarded for her collaborative research on teacher inquiry. Dr. Lytle is also the founding director of the Philadelphia Writing Project (PhilWP), a teacher collaborative project with the School District of Philadelphia. PhilWP has been the primary site of her research, for which she has received a number of major grants, including one from the Spencer Foundation on teacher inquiry and the epistemology of teaching and another from the Spencer and MacArthur Foundations for professional development and teacher leadership in urban secondary schools.
Committed to improving the quality of teaching and learning at all levels of education, including colleges and universities, Dr. Lytle has published widely on literacy and urban teacher education. She has worked closely with urban K–12 teachers, community college/university faculty, and adult educators to design and implement a variety of inquiry-based collaborative field-university projects focused on issues of literacy, culture, pedagogy, and social justice. Her co-authored book, Inside/Outside: Teacher Research and Knowledge (Teachers College Press, 1993), received the AACTE Outstanding Professional Writing Award in 1995. Dr. Lytle is a past president of the National Conference on Research in Language and Literacy and of the NCTE Assembly on Research. In 2011, she and Marilyn Cochran-Smith received the David Imig Award for Distinguished Research in Teacher Education from AACTE.