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The Penn Graduate School of Education awarded the Harold W. McGraw Jr. Prize in Education this year to four recipients. Credit: Kylie Cooper

The Penn Graduate School of Education awarded the 2021 Harold W. McGraw Jr. Prize in Education to four professors, including two Penn GSE graduates.

The award –  given through a partnership between Penn GSE and the Harold W. McGraw Family Foundation – honors innovators who have dedicated themselves to improving education and students’ lives in three categories: PreK-12 Education, Higher Education, and Learning Science Research. 

This year’s winners were Doug Fuchs, Lynn Fuchs, Richard Baraniuk, and Carol D. Lee, who each received $50,000 and a bronze sculpture, Penn Today reported. A virtual celebration will be held on Nov. 10 honoring the four professors. 

1973 Penn GSE graduates and Vanderbilt University professors Lynn and Doug Fuchs won in the PreK-12 category for over three decades of research into improving teaching methods for students with learning disabilities. Among their innovations is an early screening process that identifies students at risk for academic struggles which reverses the traditional “wait to fail” approach, Penn Today reported.

Baraniuk is an engineering professor at Rice University who was recognized in the Higher Education category for revolutionizing students’ access to college textbooks through his nonprofit OpenStax. OpenStax enables tens of millions of students to access free, open-source textbooks online, which helps to alleviate what can be a significant financial burden, Penn Today reported. 

In the Learning Science Research category, Lee, a professor at Northwestern University, was honored for more than 50 years of work in the role of culture in literacy and the learning process. Her work demonstrates the ways intersectional curriculums benefit students, giving instructors practical insights to promote holistic development – especially for Black students, according to Penn Today. 

Last year was the first year Penn GSE awarded the prize. It was moved from Arizona State University after a yearlong hiatus. Past winners of the prize include Khan Academy founder, Sal Khan, founder of Girls Who Code, Reshma Saujani, and the founder of the Foundation for Family Literacy, former First Lady Barbara Bush.