Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Prize in Education Announces 2020 Winners: Estela Bensimon, Michelene Chi, and Joseph Krajcik

Tuesday, September 22, 2020
Winners of the 2020 Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Prize in Education, from left, Joseph Krajcik, Estela Bensimon, and Michelene Chi.

One of the most prestigious prizes in education recognizes outstanding achievement in pre-K-12 education, higher education, and learning science research

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In the photo above, winners of the 2020 Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Prize in Education, from left, Joseph Krajcik, Estela Bensimon, and Michelene Chi.

September 22, 2020, PHILADELPHIA — As education faces down its most challenging year ever, The Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Prize in Education is shining a light on three people who have had an extraordinary impact on the field. This year’s winners were announced today: Estela Bensimon, Michelene Chi, and Joseph Krajcik. They are recognized for their achievements in higher education, learning science research, and pre-K-12 education respectively and will be honored in a Wednesday, October 21 ceremony streamed at 4pm ET/1pm PT; each winner will also receive an award of $50,000 and a prize sculpture.

Since 1988, the McGraw Prize has celebrated innovation in education by recognizing outstanding individuals who have dedicated themselves to improving education and whose accomplishments are making a huge impact. Earlier this year, the Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Family Foundation announced that the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education (Penn GSE) would be the new home for the Prize. As part of the new partnership, Catalyst @ Penn GSE has created a yearlong programming series, with a particular focus on sharing ideas and insights from McGraw Prize winners as education change agents.

“This year’s Prize winners are outstanding leaders who have devoted their careers to closing gaps and accelerating educational opportunity to all students,” said Harold McGraw III, former Chairman, CEO and President of The McGraw Hill Companies. “Dr. Bensimon’s groundbreaking work to advance equity in higher education, Dr. Krajcik’s innovations to improve science, and Dr. Chi’s pioneering research to promote active and engaged student learning represent profound and lasting achievements.”

“I can think of no better year to join with the Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Family Foundation to celebrate leadership and innovation in education. Each of these winners has dedicated their careers to creating tools and opportunities to unlock the vast potential that exists inside every learner," said Penn GSE Dean Pam Grossman. "They serve as an inspiration for how educators can respond creatively to meet our greatest educational challenges.” 

Estela Mara Bensimon has been awarded the 2020 McGraw Prize in Higher Education. Bensimon is the Rossier Dean’s Professor in Educational Equity at the University of Southern California’s Rossier School of Education and Founding Director of the Center for Urban Education (CUE). With a singular focus on increasing racial equity in higher education outcomes for students of color, she developed the Equity Scorecard, a process for using inquiry to drive changes in institutional practice and culture. Since CUE’s founding in 1999, the center has supported thousands of college professionals—among them presidents, faculty, and academic counselors—in their efforts to reverse the impact of the historical and structural barriers that prevent many students of color from excelling in higher education. Bensimon is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including election into the National Academy of Education in 2017.  

Michelene (Micki) Chi has been awarded the 2020 McGraw Prize in Learning Science Research. Chi is the Dorothy Bray Endowed Professor of Science and Teaching at Arizona State University and Director of the Learning and Cognition Lab. A global leader in cognitive and learning science research, Chi has made numerous advances to our understanding of how students learn, particularly in STEM domains. Highlights of her work include creating a powerful framework (ICAP) of active learning, developing an understanding of the power of self-explanation as a key way to learn, evolving our knowledge of how experts and nonexperts think, and influencing how we think about learning in more interactive settings. Chi has been recognized with numerous honors throughout her career, including induction into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2016.

Joseph S. Krajcik has been awarded the 2020 McGraw Prize in Pre-K-12 Education. Krajcik is the Lappan-Phillips Professor of Science Education at Michigan State University and Director of the CREATE for STEM Institute. In nominating Krajcik for the McGraw Prize, a colleague said that he “has done about as much as one person can conceivably do to transform K-12 education outcomes in science for students in his home state, across the nation, and around the world.” Krajcik has partnered with science teachers globally to reform science teaching practices to promote student engagement in and learning of science through the design, development, and testing of project-based science learning environments. He served as lead writer of both the National Academies of Science Framework for K-12 Science Education and the Next Generation Science Standards. These standards have transformed the teaching of science in the United States and around the world.  

For more information or to register, please go to https://www.mcgrawprize.com/events/. You may also follow @PennGSE and #McGraw Prize on social media.

The Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Prize in Education nominees are selected through a public nomination process, with winners chosen over three rounds of judging and ultimately by an independent panel of esteemed judges who are leaders in the field. Recent winners include Reshma Saujani, the founder of Girls Who Code; Alberto Carvalho, Superintendent of Miami-Dade Public Schools; and Sal Kahn, the founder of Khan Academy.

The Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Family Foundation, established by Harold W. McGraw, Jr., is a not-for-profit private foundation whose primary mission is focused on education, youth services, community health and medical research. Harold W. McGraw, Jr. was the former Chairman and CEO of McGraw-Hill and dedicated his life to education and literacy. 

Penn GSE is one of the nation’s premier research education schools and is currently ranked #2 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. No other education school enjoys a university environment as supportive of practical knowledge-building as the Ivy League’s University of Pennsylvania. The School is notably entrepreneurial, launching innovative degree programs for practicing professionals and unique partnerships with local educators, and the first-ever business plan competition devoted exclusively to educational products and programs. Catalyst @ Penn GSE is a center for global education innovation that connects people and ideas to develop new ways to advance education in novel and meaningful directions.

The University of Pennsylvania, founded in 1740, is an Ivy League institution with a distinctive past. Its twelve undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools are located in Philadelphia on an attractive urban campus that serves a diverse community of more than 20,000 students from throughout the nation and around the world. Ranked consistently among the top universities in the nation, Penn has a longstanding reputation for excellence in graduate and professional education.

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