Photo of Eric Hanushek
Eric Hanushek

Eric Hanushek, the Paul and Jean Hanna Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University and a prolific longtime contributor to Education Next, is a winner of the $3.9 million Yidan Prize honoring individuals or teams that have significantly contributed to the theory and practice of education.

The prize consists of a gold medal, a cash award of 15 million Hong Kong dollars, and a project fund of 15 million Hong Kong dollars.

“Like no one else, Eric has been able to link the fields of economics and education. From designing better and fairer systems for evaluating teacher performance to linking better learning outcomes to long-run economic and social progress, he has made an amazing range of education policy areas amenable to rigorous economic analysis,” said Andreas Schleicher, head of the Yidan Prize for Education Research judging panel, and director for the OECD’s Directorate of Education and Skills.

The press release announcing the prize noted that Hanushek “has shown that it’s how much students learn – and not how many years they spend in school – that boosts economies.” This finding was the focus of one of his most influential contributions to Education Next, “Education and Economic Growth” (Spring 2008), an article co-authored with German economist Ludger Woessmann.

Hanushek told Education Next he was thrilled at the news. He said he plans to use the project fund to select and train fellows to support the development of a strong education research network in Africa. “A carefully selected group of policy analysts would participate in a two-year research and policy development fellowship that introduces them both to relevant research and analytical experiences and to international networks of researchers and policy advisers,” the project description says. “The objective is to build a group of country-specific leaders capable of developing evidence and shaping educational policies that are relevant for each country. They would be part of a global network of such people and, if successful, could also build out local networks of strong advocates for improvement of schools.”

“A small number of African fellows would get some training in visiting time in Stanford, Munich, and Paris. They would hopefully be in a position to translate research and evaluation into policy,” Hanushek said.

Hanushek’s other major Education Next articles include “The Achievement Gap Fails to Close” (Summer 2019, with Paul E. Peterson, Laura M. Talpey, and Ludger Woessmann), “Do Smarter Teachers Make Smarter Students?” (Spring 2019, with Marc Piopiunik and Simon Wiederhold), “What Matters for Student Achievement” (Spring 2016).

In the past 18 months, Hanushek has published two Education Next blog posts addressing the educational challenges posed by the pandemic: “Costs of Past and Future Learning Losses” (with Ludger Woessmann), “Focus on Teaching, Not Just Masks and Hand-Sanitizer.”

Among his recent Education Next and Education Exchange podcast appearances are “It’s Not How Much You Spend, It’s How You Spend It,” and “Comparing Teacher Skills in the U.S. and Abroad.”

Hanushek is a founding member of the journal’s editorial advisory board and had two articles in the first issue of Education Next (then known as Education Matters) in Spring 2001.

The other Yidan winner this year was Rukmini Banerji, chief executive officer of the Pratham Education Foundation, an India-based organization that focuses on teaching young children basic reading and math skills.

This isn’t the first time an Education Next author has won a prestigious international prize (See “A Nobel for Education Next,” 2019.) It may be the largest dollar amount attached to one, though. Cash value aside, the recognition to Hanushek, who in addition to being one of the most prolific and hardworking researchers in the education field is also one of the most personally gracious ones, is being celebrated today not only at Stanford but here in Cambridge, too.

Ira Stoll is managing editor of Education Next.

Last updated September 28, 2021