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Policy & Politics Opinion

The 2022 RHSU Edu-Scholar Public Influence Rankings

By Rick Hess — January 05, 2022 3 min read
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Today, we unveil the 2022 RHSU Edu-Scholar Public Influence Rankings, ranking the university-based scholars in the United States who did the most last year to shape educational practice and policy. Simply being included in this list of 200 scholars is an accomplishment, given the 20,000 or more who might qualify. The list includes the top finishers from last year, augmented by “at-large” nominees chosen by the 33-member Selection Committee (see yesterday’s post for a list of committee members, an explanation of the selection process, and all the salacious methodological particulars).

Without further ado, here are the 2022 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 1, 2021.

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The top scorers are all familiar names. Topping the rankings for another year was the University of Pennsylvania’s Angela Duckworth (Full disclosure: Angela blogs for Education Week), the reigning authority on “grit.” Rounding out the top five, in order, were University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Gloria Ladson-Billings, USC’s Pedro A. Noguera (Full disclosure: Pedro and I coauthored a book together this past year), Stanford’s Linda Darling-Hammond, and Harvard’s Howard Gardner. The top 10 also included Stanford’s Jo Boaler, Brown’s Emily Oster (notable as a newcomer to the rankings), Stanford’s Carol S. Dweck, MIT’s Joshua Angrist (recipient of this year’s Nobel Prize in Economics), and USC’s Shaun R. Harper.

Stanford placed five scholars in the top 20; Harvard had three; and USC, the University of Virginia, and the University of Pennsylvania each had two. Overall, Harvard led with 25 ranked scholars; Stanford was second, with 18; and UCLA was third, with 12. All told, 59 universities had at least one ranked scholar.

When it comes to the bestselling books penned by the top 200 scholars, Dweck’s Mindset: The New Psychology of Success continues to top the charts—16 years after its initial publication. Other books that fared especially well were Angela Duckworth’s Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance (2016), Emily Oster’s Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom Is Wrong—and What You Really Need to Know (2014), Richard Rothstein’s The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America (2018), Gholdy Muhammad’s Cultivating Genius: An Equity Framework for Culturally and Historically Responsive Literacy (2020), and Christopher Emdin’s For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood (2016). Remarkably, aside from Oster and Muhammad’s volumes, these are the same books that held the top spots last year, providing a revealing window into the state of the education conversation.

This year, two junior faculty made the top 200: Harvard’s Anthony A. Jack, at 159, and Southern Methodist’s Dominique Baker, at 187. Given that the exercise, by design, favors scholars who’ve built bodies of work and had a sustained impact, these two are deserving of particular notice.

Now, if readers want to argue the construction, reliability, or validity of any or all of these metrics, feel free. This whole endeavor is an imprecise, highly imperfect exercise. Of course, the same is true of college rankings, NFL quarterback ratings, or international scorecards of human rights. Yet, for all their imperfections, such efforts convey real information and help spark useful discussion. I hope these can do the same.

I welcome thoughts and questions and am happy to entertain any and all suggestions. So, take a look and have at it.

For several years, following the release of the RHSU EduScholar Public Influence Rankings, Education Week Opinion has published a related series of essays that explore a pressing issue relevant to public scholarship. Read this year’s collection of essays, on how educators and researchers can work together to improve schools, here. While Education Week hosts the RHSU blog and publishes the rankings as a result, Education Week does not participate in the rankings process. The rankings are wholly an effort of Rick Hess and the RHSU selection committee.

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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.

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