Category Research
Author Andrew Myers

Three School of Education faculty members were named in the latest Edu-Scholar Public Influence Rankings tabulated and published by education analyst and blogger Rick Hess in Education Week.

Robert Slavin, Director of the Center for Research and Reform in Education, Jonathan Plucker, the Julian C. Stanley Professor of Talent Development, and David Steiner, Executive Director of the Institute for Education, all made the list.

While acknowledging that it is always nice to be recognized in such lists, Slavin said that there is a deeper value for him.  He notes that Hess takes into account factors “beyond the academy” to assess the broader, popular reach of one’s work. The yearly list of the top 200 educators is based on traditional academic factors like citations but wraps in other quantitative measures, like media and congressional mentions, Amazon rankings, and even a social media score, as well.

“We all want our work to make a difference,” Slavin says. “Rankings like this are an indicator of the effectiveness of our messages and our ability to get them out to the general public.”

For Steiner, the fact that the School of Education has three researchers on the list is significant.  “It’s clear that the combined expertise at the Johns Hopkins School of Education has a cumulative impact on education policy,” Steiner says. “Metrics likes this indicate that our collective research is actually being translated into policy, where it makes a difference.”

“It’s a nice reminder of how important it is for academics to be out there impacting policy, which often means investing time in activities that aren’t part of traditional faculty roles,” Plucker says. “It’s one small affirmation that our work and risk taking have paid off.”

Rick Hess is director of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute and publishes the blog Straight Up under the EducationNext banner. He notes that the pool of candidates for his most-influential list exceeds 20,000 educators. Being listed among the top 200 places all three scholars in the highest one percent of educational influencers. Slavin, in fact, is in the top one-tenth of one percent by Hess’s metrics.

Hess is quick to note that such rankings have inherent shortcomings, but they do offer insight into who is making waves and how they do it. Hess applies a consistent and reasoned rubric in his weightings, but also takes into account the evaluations of a 29-member selection committee drawn from education at top universities around the country. He also takes steps to focus his findings on positive influence only by, for instance, discarding any mentions for educators involved in legal matters or disciplinary actions.

A complete list of Hess’s selection and ranking criteria includes:

  • Google Scholar Score tracks the number of widely cited articles, books, or papers a scholar has published.
  • Book Points combs Amazon for the number of books a scholar has written or edited.
  • Highest Amazon Ranking scores the author’s top-ranked book on Amazon.
  • Syllabus Score searches a national syllabus database for the author’s top text and how often it appears on syllabi at universities across the country.
  • Education Press Mentions sums the times the scholar was quoted or mentioned in Education Week, The Chronicle of Higher Education, or Inside Higher Education in the previous year.
  • Web Mentions reflects the times the educator was referenced, quoted, or otherwise mentioned online in the previous year.
  • Newspaper Mentions uses a LexisNexis search to tally the times a scholar was quoted or mentioned in U.S. newspapers (less mentions in the education press mentioned above).
  • Congressional Record Mentions determines whether a scholar was referenced by a member of Congress.
  • Twitter Score uses Followerwonk’s “Social Authority” score to evaluate the retweet rate of the scholar’s recent tweets and their follower count.

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