Today, we unveil the 2018 RHSU Edu-Scholar Public Influence Rankings, identifying the university-based scholars in the U.S. who are doing the most to shape educational practice and policy. Simply being included in this list of 200 scholars is an accomplishment, given the tens of thousands who might qualify. The ranked scholars include the top 150 finishers from last year, along with 50 “at-large” nominees chosen by the 31-member selection committee (see yesterday’s post for a list of committee members and all the salacious methodological details).
Here are the 2018 rankings (scroll through the chart to see all names and scores). Please note that all university affiliations reflect a scholar’s institution as of December 2017. The bottom line: This is a serious but highly imperfect attempt to nudge academe to do more to recognize and encourage scholarship which engages the real world of practice and policy.
Without further ado, let’s get to the results. The top scorers? All are familiar edu-names, who have authored influential works and played outsized public and professional roles. Topping the rankings, once again, was Stanford University’s Linda Darling-Hammond. Rounding out the top five, in order, were Harvard’s Howard Gardner, U. Penn’s Angela Duckworth, U. Wisconsin’s Gloria Ladson-Billings, and NYU’s Diane Ravitch. The rest of the top ten included Stanford’s Larry Cuban, Temple’s Sara Goldrick-Rab, U. Penn’s Marybeth Gasman, Stanford’s Jo Boaler, and the University of Virginia’s Carol Ann Tomlinson.
Harvard’s Dan Koretz made the biggest single leap from last year, climbing 132 spots to 20th place. His rise was fueled by the success of his much-discussed University of Chicago Press book, The Testing Charade: Pretending to Make Schools Better. Others making especially big jumps from 2017 included Harvard’s Stephanie M. Jones and David J. Deming, Stanford’s David F. Labaree, and Michigan State’s Barbara Schneider. Also notable was Stanford’s Raj Chetty debuting at 14th, on the back of his high-profile work on equality of opportunity and college mobility.
Stanford University and Harvard University had the most ranked scholars. Stanford placed six scholars in the top 20 and Harvard four. U. Penn also placed multiple scholars in the top 20. When it came to overall representation, Harvard led the way with 24 ranked scholars. Stanford was second, with 20, and Columbia was third, with 13. All told, 55 universities had at least one scholar make the cut.
A number of top scorers penned influential books of recent vintage. U. Penn’s Angela Duckworth’s best-seller Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance continues to do exceptionally well. A few other books that did especially well were Richard Rothstein’s The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America; Harvard Dean Jim Ryan’s Wait, What? And Life’s Other Essential Questions; and Jo Boaler’s Mindset Mathematics: Visualizing and Investigating Big Ideas.
As with any such ranking, this exercise ought to be interpreted with appropriate caveats. Given that the ratings are a snapshot, the results obviously favor scholars who published a successful book or big study last year. But that’s how the world works. And that’s why we do this every year.
A few scholars tended to lead the field in any given category. For those of you keeping score at home, here’s some highlights:
More than 40 scholars maxed out on Google Scholar. When it came to book points, fifteen scholars maxed out, including Darling-Hammond, Gardner, Ravitch, Larry Cuban of Stanford, and Carol Ann Tomlinson of the University of Virginia. Duckworth and UC-Berkeley’s Richard Rothstein finished first and second in Amazon points, with 20.0 and 19.9 respectively. Fourteen scholars maxed out on syllabus points, including Ladson-Billings, Stanford’s Sam Wineburg, and UT-Austin’s Angela Valenzuela.
As far as attention in the education press, Darling-Hammond, Duckworth, and Temple’s Sara Goldrick-Rab topped the charts. When it came to mentions in mainstream newspapers, Goldrick-Rab took the top spot, with Stanford’s Raj Chetty and U. Penn’s Marybeth Gasman not far behind. In terms of web presence, over a dozen scholars received the maximum score, including Stanford’s Sean Reardon, Harvard’s David Deming, and Marc Lamont Hill of Temple. When it came to social media, Ravitch and Lamont Hill posted the top Klout scores for the second year in a row.
If readers want to argue the construction, reliability, or validity of the metrics, go for it. I’m not sure that I’ve got the measures right or how much these results can or should tell us. That said, I think the same can be said about college rankings, NFL quarterback ratings, or international scorecards of human rights. For all their imperfections, I think such efforts convey real information—and help spark useful discussion.
That’s what I’ve sought to do here. Meanwhile, I’d welcome suggestions for possible improvements and welcome thoughts, questions, and suggestions. So, take a look, and have at it. And, don’t miss Ed Week‘s special commentary package on the RHSU rankings—including a lively discussion of what happens when scholarly engagement in public debate ceases to be a good thing, how we can tell, and what can be done about it. Tune in to see what Wisconsin’s Diana Hess, UCLA’s Pedro Noguera, Seton Hall’s Robert Kelchen, Arkansas’ Pat Wolf, and yours truly have to say on that score.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this post had Ernest Morrell’s affiliation listed as Teachers College. As of fall 2017, he holds joint appointments in the Department of English and the Department of Africana Studies at the University of Notre Dame.
The opinions expressed in Rick Hess Straight Up are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.