The turn of the new year always brings a period of reflection upon events of the prior year. In the field of education, one perennial example is the Rick Hess Straight-Up Edu-Scholar Public Influence Rankings, compiled and published by Education Week. This year, three Johns Hopkins faculty members again made the list: Bob Slavin, Jonathan Plucker, and David Steiner.
The rankings evaluate the relative influence of education experts based on traditional academic factors, like publications and citations, as well as quantitative measures, such as mentions in the media and Congressional testimony, rankings of publication sales compiled by Amazon.com, and even relative presence on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. The 200 names on the list each year represent just one percent of the more than 20,000 education experts evaluated.
“Being recognized for public impact, especially given our work in education, is an honor,” said Plucker, who is the Julian C. Stanley Professor of Talent Development at the School of Education. “We’re often engaged in public debates on controversial issues, and honors such as this are a nice reminder that we should be doing our best to bring research-informed perspectives to these public conversations.”
“It’s an honor to be recognized for the work we are doing here at the Johns Hopkins School of Education,” said Steiner, who is executive director of the Institute for Education Policy. “Our Institute is working with state and big city education leaders across the county on policies that change children’s lifetime opportunities. We are delighted that this last year has seen an exponential growth in the use of our intervention tools and reform strategies, and that work is reflected in our ranking.”
In noting the recognition, Slavin, the director of the Center for Research and Reform in Education, tied his top-ten ranking directly to the past year’s events. “Recently, I’ve been advocating for the federal government to fund tutoring for students who have lost ground due to COVID-19 school closures,” he said. “I hope it is this message taking hold that accounts for my ‘influence’ score.”
Hess, a self-described “education policy maven” associated with the American Enterprise Institute, writes that the list is compiled with the help of a 28-member selection committee to acknowledge “university-based scholars in the U.S. who did the most last year to shape educational practice and policy.” He is quick to note that it is an inherently imprecise measuring stick, but one which, despite its imperfections, helps to “convey real information” in an effort to “spark useful discussion” about the state of education in the United States.