Frederick Hess

    Author Website:

    Author Bio:
    Frederick Hess, AEI's director of education policy studies, is an educator, political scientist, author, and popular speaker and commentator. He has authored such influential books as Spinning Wheels, Revolution at the Margins, and Common Sense School Reform. A former public high school social studies teacher, he has also taught education and policy at universities including Georgetown, Harvard, Rice, the University of Virginia, and the University of Pennsylvania. He is executive editor of Education Next, a faculty associate with Harvard’s Program on Education Policy and Governance, and serves on the board of directors for the National Association of Charter School Authorizers and on the review board for the Broad Prize in Urban Education. At AEI, Mr. Hess addresses a range of K-12 and higher education issues.


Schooling Rebooted

Turning educators into learning engineers

SPRING 2014 / VOL. 14, NO. 2

The 2013 Edu-Scholar Public Presence Rankings

The Edu-Scholar Rankings seek to recognize those university-based academics who are contributing most substantially to public debates about K–12 and higher education

SUMMER 2013 / VOL. 13, NO. 3

Combating the ‘Culture of Can’t’

When it comes to reforming American education, school officials have far more freedom to transform, reimagine, and invigorate teaching, learning, and schooling than is widely believed.

SPRING 2013 / VOL. 13, NO. 2

Creating a Corps of Change Agents

What explains the success of Teach For America?

Summer 2011 / Vol. 11, No. 3

Pyrrhic Victories?

The following essay is part of a forum, written in honor of Education Next’s 10th anniversary, in which the editors assessed the school reform movement’s victories and challenges to see just how successful reform efforts have been. For the other side of the debate, please see A Battle Begun, Not Won by Paul E. Peterson, […]

Spring 2011 / Vol. 11, No. 2

Fueling the Engine

Smarter, better ways to fund education innovators

Summer 2010 / Vol. 10, No. 3

The Accidental Principal

What doesn’t get taught at ed schools?

Summer 2005 / Vol. 5, No. 3

Few States Set World-Class Standards

In fact, most render the notion of proficiency meaningless

Summer 2008 / Vol. 8, No. 3

How to Get the Teachers We Want

Specialization would lead to better teaching and higher salaries

Summer 2009 / Vol. 9, No. 3

The Accreditation Game

The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (known broadly as NCATE, pronounced “en kate”) was launched in 1954 by a coalition of professional organizations from across the education community. Previously, teacher-training programs had been accredited by states, regional accrediting bodies, or an association of teacher colleges, each equipped with its own benchmarks and methods […]

Fall 2002 / Vol. 2, No. 3

Crash Course

NCLB is driven by education politics

Fall 2007 / Vol. 7, No. 4

What Innovators Can, and Cannot, Do

Squeezing into local markets and cutting deals

Spring 2007 / Vol. 7, No. 2

The Work Ahead

Does school choice push public schools to improve?

Winter 2001 / Vol. 1, No. 4

Lifting the Barrier

Eliminating the state-mandated licensure of principles and superintendents is the first step in recruiting and training a generation of leaders capable of transforming America’s schools

Fall 2003 / Vol. 3, No. 4

Technical Difficulties

Information technology could help schools do more with less. If only educators knew how to use it

Fall 2004 / Vol. 4, No. 4

Johnny Can Read…in Some States

Johnny can’t read … in South Carolina. But if his folks move to Texas, he’ll be reading up a storm. What’s going on? It turns out that in complying with the requirements of No Child Left Behind (NCLB), some states have decided to be a whole lot more generous than others in determining whether students […]

Summer 2005 / Vol. 5, No. 3

Strike Phobia

School boards need to drive a harder bargain

Summer 2006 / Vol. 6, No. 3

Keeping an Eye on State Standards

A race to the bottom?

Summer 2006 / Vol. 6, No. 3

Blog Posts/Multimedia

Jeb Bush, the Common Core, and 2016

In a crowded 2016 field, education could and should be a critical asset for a potential Bush candidacy. What happens with Common Core over the next 24 months will determine whether it is.


Focus on the Opportunities Ed Tech Brings, Not the Hype

When we talk educational technology, there’s far too much excited talk about big purchases of tablets or assessment systems and far too little about just what educators and students are supposed to actually do with these.


Common Core and the Midterms

It won’t be a huge issue in the fall, but it will have repercussions thereafter.


Common Core: Teachers’ Unions Think Again

As implementation nears, they aren’t liking what they see.


The Big Apple’s Chance to Course-Correct on Testing

Those who follow New York City schools have been witnessing a time-honored ritual — pro-testing school reformers have mightily overreached, inviting pushback that’s now poised to dismantle much of their useful handiwork.


Successful ‘Edupreneurs’ Reignite For-Profit Debate

Critics often accuse school reformers of “privatizing” public education. When for-profits enter the conversation, those same critics level more serious charges and often accuse those companies of having one motive: making money off of the backs of kids.


2014 Rick Hess Straight Up (RHSU) Edu-Scholar Public Influence: Top Tens

How did scholars fare when it comes to particular fields or disciplines?


The 2014 Rick Hess Straight Up (RHSU) Edu-Scholar Public Influence Rankings

These rankings recognize university-based scholars in the U.S. who are contributing most substantially to public debates about education.


The Five-Tool Policy Scholar

Scholars who do policy-relevant research require a range of skills to excel, but university promotion, pay, and prestige tend to reward a very narrow range of activity and accomplishment


NNSTOY’s Report on Teacher ‘Career Pathways’

It’s vital that teachers help shape new systems that will give them opportunities for growth, impact, and professional responsibility


Quick Thoughts on the Screwed Up DC IMPACT Ratings

Teacher evaluation systems are nascent and fragile. Proponents need to do everything they can to show that these will be fair, reliable, and workable.


The World’s Most Successful Ed Tech…

The one learning technology that has actually transformed teaching and learning is … the book!


Common Core and the Food Pyramid

The idea that the Common Core might be a “game-changer” has little to do with the Common Core standards themselves and everything to do with stuff attached to them, especially the adoption of common tests that make it possible to readily compare schools, programs, districts, and states.


ClassDojo and How Tech Can Help With Soft Skills

ClassDojo has developed digital tools that can help teachers, parents, and students improve classroom behavior, develop good learning habits, and support character development.


Uncle Sam Shouldn’t Try to Manage School Staffing

The desire to more evenly distribute effective teachers is laudable, but the feds should take care not to accidentally undermine successful schools, compromise teacher effectiveness, or drive good teachers from the profession.


Arne the Octopus

While Arne Duncan continues to champion ideas that enjoy bipartisan support, his methods have become increasingly imperious.


Douglas County: The Most Interesting School District in America?

Douglas County suggests that the familiar paradigm of urban reform, which has driven so much of the K-12 agenda in the past decade, may be an uncomfortable or problematic fit in suburban districts.


The Trouble With Economists

It turns out that preschool programs are hard to replicate with fidelity or in such a way that each additional preschool student gets the anticipated benefit.


The Import of the CREDO Charter School Study

The new national charter school study by Stanford’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) has attracted enormous, well-deserved attention.


A Playbook for the Common Core'ites: Part 2

Five suggestions that can help Common Core advocates get their popular and political fortunes back on track


A Playbook for the Common Core'ites: Part I

I”ve long said that the Common Core strikes me as an intriguing effort that could do much good. The past couple weeks, I”ve been struck by how fragile the effort is starting to seem and how clumsily the Common Core”ites seem to be responding to challenges. In the spirit of public service, here”s some advice.


NCLB’s Critical Design Flaw and the Lesson to Take

A decision to focus NCLB reauthorization on promoting transparency, honest measurements of spending and achievement, and on ensuring that constitutional protections are respected ought not be seen as a retreat from NCLB but as an attempt to have the feds do what they can do sensibly and well.


‘More Professional Development’: The Easy (But Ineffectual) Answer

We spend a lot on professional development, yet hardly any of it actually appears to make teachers better.


Putting the Poli Sci Back in the Politics of Ed … & Three New Books That Continue a Heartening Trend

Spurred by the experiences of No Child Left Behind and all that followed, there’s been a resurgence of political scientists studying education


Straight Up Conversation: Common Core Guru Jason Zimba

My interview with Jason Zimba, Jazon Zimba, founding principal of Student Achievement Partners (SAP) and lead writer on the Common Core mathematics standards


2013 RHSU Edu-Scholar Bonus Round

Three new tools make it possible to tinker with the Edu-Scholar rankings in cool new ways.


2013 RHSU Edu-Scholar Top 10 Lists

Which professors topped the charts in different disciplines?


The 2013 RHSU Edu-Scholar Public Presence Rankings

Which university-based academics are contributing most substantially to public debates about K-12 and higher education?


The 2013 RHSU Edu-Scholar Public Presence Scoring Rubric

The metric described here is used to rank 168 university-based edu-scholars who are widely regarded as having some public presence.


The Five-Tool Policy Scholar

Scholars who do policy-relevant research contribute most fully when they put a broad array of relevant skills to use.


Straight Up Conversation: New Florida Commissioner Tony Bennett

Indiana’s loss turned out to be Florida’s gain, as the State Board voted unanimously last Wednesday to select Bennett as Florida’s new education commissioner.


Technology as ‘Hamburger Helper’

In most sectors, technology has indeed yielded huge savings and delivered massive increases in productivity. In education, though, it’s been a different story.


Making Civics Count

This new book features an all-star lineup of experts shining a spotlight on civic education to help policymakers, educators, parents, and voters better understand the state of civic ed.


Obama the Education Spending Hawk

It’s a safe bet that an Obama victory will mean more federal funding for education than would a Romney victory. But, either way, federal edu-spending is going to be on a lean diet for a good, long while.


What Would a President Romney Do on K-12?

Romney would keep much of the same substantive agenda as Obama, but would do so with a lighter touch, less spending, and more emphasis on choice.


Obama Administration and K-12: The Good and the Bad

We’re rolling into the final sprint to the election; this makes it a good time to look back at what the Obama administration has done with its time in office.


Checking Out ClassDojo

Currently boasting more than four million teacher and student users, ClassDojo enables teachers to easily monitor and track student behaviors in real time.


Daily News Twists Evaluation Into Cheap Shot at School of One

The New York Daily News did an awful job of conveying what we know about School of One thus far.


Parent Power and Education Advocacy

Despite conventional assumptions that “choice” parents would be easier to mobilize, choice doesn’t necessarily equal activism.

Sponsored Results

The Hoover Institution at Stanford University - Ideas Defining a Free Society

Harvard Kennedy School Program on Educational Policy and Governance

Thomas Fordham Institute - Advancing Educational Excellence and Education Reform