The 2024 Edu-Scholar Public Influence Rankings

This is an attempt to gauge impact, not the merits of a scholar’s contribution
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Today, we unveil the 2024 RHSU Edu-Scholar Public Influence Rankings, ranking the 200 university-based scholars in the United States who did the most last year to shape educational practice and policy. The list includes the top 150 finishers from last year, augmented by at-large nominees chosen by the 39-member Selection Committee. So, without further ado, here are the 2024 rankings (scroll through the chart to see all names and scores).

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For more on the committee, selection process, and methodological particulars, you can check out yesterday’s post.

The top scorers are all familiar names to folks working in education. Topping the rankings this year was Harvard’s Howard Gardner, Columbia’s John McWhorter, University of Southern California’s Pedro Noguera (full disclosure: Noguera and I co-authored A Search for Common Ground in 2021 and jointly hosted the “Common Ground” podcast during 2021 and 2022), and Stanford’s Carol Dweck and Jo Boaler. Rounding out the top 10 were the University of Pennsylvania’s Angela Duckworth (full disclosure: Duckworth blogs for EdWeek), Stanford’s Linda Darling-Hammond, Harvard’s Raj Chetty, University of Virginia’s Daniel Willingham, and University of Southern California’s Shaun Harper.

Stanford placed six scholars in the top 20; Harvard had three; and Columbia, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Southern California, the University of Virginia, and UC Berkeley each had two. Overall, Harvard led with 26 ranked scholars; Stanford was second, with 17; and UCLA was third, with 11. All told, there were 58 universities with at least one ranked scholar.

Once again, the most popular books from the Edu-Scholars are many of the same ones as previous years. Emily Oster’s 2014 volume Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom Is Wrong—and What You Really Need to Know was the top performer on the list. Carol Dweck’s Mindset: The New Psychology of Success (2007) took second place. Other popular titles included: Howard Gardner’s Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences (2011), Richard Rothstein’s The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America (2017), Angela Duckworth’s Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance (2016), and Gholdy Muhammad’s Unearthing Joy: A Guide to Culturally and Historically Responsive Curriculum and Instruction (2023).

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, 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. And, finally, it should go without saying that individuals can be influential in problematic or destructive ways. This is an attempt to gauge influence, not the merits of a scholar’s contribution.

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

Tomorrow, we’ll break down the top 10 faculty in each discipline.

Frederick Hess is director of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute and an executive editor of Education Next.

This post originally appeared on Rick Hess Straight Up.

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