Morrell, Berends again achieve Edu-Scholar ranking for doing most to shape educational practice, policy

Author: Theo Helm

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Two professors at the University of Notre Dame’s Institute for Educational Initiatives were ranked among the nation’s top 200 education scholars as selected by the Edu-Scholar Public Influence Rankings, an annual listing published by Education Week that highlights academics who had the year’s biggest impact on educational practice and policy.

Ernest Morrell, the associate dean for the humanities and equity in the College of Arts and Letters, the Coyle Professor in Literacy Education and the director of the Notre Dame Center for Literacy Education, ranked 82nd on the 2023 list. 

Mark Berends, the Hackett Family Director of the Institute for Educational Initiatives, a professor of sociology, and the director of the Center for Research on Educational Opportunity, placed 166th.

Morrell’s research focuses on how the use of popular culture in the classroom can successfully engage urban youth and communities and on translanguaging — the idea that students can maximize their learning by using the many different languages they use in their everyday lives.

He holds appointments in the Department of English and Department of Africana Studies. He was elected in 2022 to the National Academy of Education, is a fellow in the Kellogg Institute for International Studies and is the director of the National Council of Teachers of English James R. Squire Office for Policy Research in the English Language Arts. Morrell also is a fellow of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) and an elected member of the AERA council. This is the ninth year he has been included in the rankings.

Berends has written and published extensively on educational reform, school choice, the effects of family and school changes on student achievement trends, and the effects of schools and classrooms on student achievement. His research focuses on how school organization and classroom instruction are related to student outcomes, with special attention to underserved students and school reforms aimed at improving their educational opportunities. Currently, he is conducting several studies on school choice, including an examination of the Indiana Choice Scholarship Program.

He is a member of the National Academy of Education and an AERA fellow and is nominated to be on the ballot as the next president of AERA. He also is a fellow in the Kellogg Institute for International Studies. This is his fifth appearance on the list.

“Our selection shows the national impact that Notre Dame has on the K-12 education landscape in the United States,” Berends said. “As we look to the new year, we and the talented faculty we represent at Notre Dame seek to continue to improve educational opportunities for all children.”

Rick Hess, the director of education policy studies for the American Enterprise Institute, annually compiles the rankings, which are based on performances in nine categories that include publications, inclusion on syllabuses across the country, education press and web mentions, and mentions in the Congressional Record.

David Yeager, a graduate of the two-year Notre Dame program Alliance for Catholic Education’s Teaching Fellows, placed 101st. Yeager is now an associate professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin.