Education economist Roland G. Fryer, Jr., known for his work in tracing the potential causes and educational results of the achievement gaps for minority students, has been named one of 22 new fellows of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
As founder and director of Harvard University’s Education Innovation Laboratory and a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, Mr. Fryer has been at the forefront of research on the achievement gap. In the past decade, his studies have tracked how the black-white achievement gap grows through the early elementary years; how students of different races relate popularity to academic achievement; and the effectiveness of New York City education reforms, including the Harlem Children’s Zone and teacher merit-pay plans. In randomized trials at more than 250 schools in 2010, Mr. Fryer found no benefit to using financial incentives for students to improve academic achievement.
The MacArthur fellowship, known informally as a “genius grant,” comes with $500,000 over the next five years and includes no restrictions on how to use the money. Mr. Fryer was one of four of the 22 fellows this year connected to precollegiate education. The others are:
• Kevin Guskiewiczan, a leading concussion researcher and the founding director of the Matthew Gfeller Sport-Related Traumatic Brain Injury Research Center, whose research prompted recent requirements that student-athletes receive baseline concussion tests before games;
• Matthew Nock, a clinical psychologist at Harvard University, who studies the causes of suicide and self-injury among adolescents; and
• Francisco Núñez, the founder of the Young People’s Chorus of New York City, which works with more than 1,000 inner-city chorus students via satellite choruses.
A version of this article appeared in the September 28, 2011 edition of Education Week as Fryer Named MacArthur Fellow