Faculty Recognized in Edu-Scholar Rankings

Faculty Recognized in Edu-Scholar Rankings

Spillane Jackson-Lee-Figlio(L-R) Kirabo Jackson, James Spillane, Carol Lee, David Figlio

For the fifth consecutive year, researchers from Northwestern University’s School of Education and Social Policy have been named to Education Week’s “Edu-Scholar Public Influence Rankings,” which recognize 200 of the most influential academics in education policy.

The list includes professor David Figlio, director of Northwestern’s Institute for Policy Research, James Spillane, the Spencer T. and Ann W. Olin Professor in Learning and Organizational Change, Kirabo Jackson, associate professor of human development and social policy, and Carol Lee, the Tarry Professor of Education and Social Policy.

Figlio (No. 45) and Lee (148) have been on the list every year since 2013. Spillane (64) is making his fourth straight appearance while Jackson (138) has been recognized the last two years.

The rankings were created by American Enterprise Institute director of education policy Frederick M. Hess, who used nine metrics to calculate how well university-based academics move ideas from academic journals into the national conversation.

The list includes the top 146 finishers from the previous year, augmented by 54 ‘at large’ additions, named by a selection committee.

“This is a serious but inevitably imperfect attempt to nudge academe to do more to encourage and recognize scholarship that impacts the real world,” wrote Hess, an Education Week blogger.

Hess concedes the rankings “include only a sliver of the faculty who are tackling education or education policy.” Given that the ratings are a snapshot, the results also favor scholars who published a successful book or a big study over the last year, he said.

But that’s why it’s done yearly, and the annual data-driven effort is designed to “spur discussion about the nature of responsible public engagement: who’s doing a good job, how much these things matter and how to gauge a scholar’s contribution,” Hess said.

Hess calculated how much academics contribute to the public discourse by using Google Scholar citations, books authored, Amazon book rankings, education press mentions, blog mentions, newspaper mentions, Congressional Record mentions and Twitter activity.

Christopher Emdin of Teacher’s College, Columbia University, made the biggest single leap from last year, a rise fueled by the success of his book “For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood.” Northwestern’s Jackson also made a significant jump.

Filgio, who repeatedly makes the list despite a notable absence from Twitter, was one of twenty scholars who “maxed out on syllabus points.” The syllabus category scores researchers by identifying the work of each scholar that is used most often on syllabi from across American, British and Canadian universities and then tallying how frequently the work was assigned.

School of Education and Social Policy’s 2017 Edu-Scholars

David Figlio, the Orrington Lunt Professor of Education and Social Policy is the director of the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern. His research on education and social policy, including influential work on school accountability, standards, welfare policy and policy design, has been published in numerous leading journals and funded by major agencies and foundations.

James Spillane, the Spencer T. and Ann W. Olin Professor in Learning and Organizational Change, researches the policy implementation process at the state, school district, school and classroom levels. An expert in school leadership and educational policy, he is the author of several books, including Distributed LeadershipDiagnosis and Design for School Improvement and most recently Challenging Standards.

Carol Lee is the Tarry Professor of Education and Social Policy and a former president of the American Education Research Association. Her books include Culture, Literacy and Learning and Signifying as a Scaffold for Literary Interpretation. Several major awards have recognized her contributions to education. Lee is widely known for her research that shows the importance of drawing on students’ cultural knowledge to support rigorous learning, and she is the co-founder of four African-centered schools with a 40-year history.

Kirabo Jackson is a labor economist who studies education and social policy issues. His recent work analyzes the role of peer learning in teacher effectiveness and how student demographics directly affect the distribution of teacher quality across schools. He is a faculty research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research and faculty fellow at Northwestern's Institute for Policy Research.

By Julie Deardorff
Last Modified: 1/11/17