Information For:

Give back to HGSE and support the next generation of passionate educators and innovative leaders.

News & Events

Roland Fryer Joins HGSE Faculty

A pioneering economist dedicated to exploring the sources of inequality — and testing new ideas about how we can eliminate it.

Roland FryerRoland Fryer, a Harvard economist who is the founder and director of the Education Innovation Laboratory (EdLabs), has been appointed to the faculty of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Dean James Ryan has announced.

Fryer, the Henry Lee Professor in the Department of Economics, is a bold researcher who has focused his work on race and education, testing theories and evaluating policies aimed at expanding educational opportunity and improving outcomes for disadvantaged students.

A research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research and a former junior fellow in the Harvard Society of Fellows, Fryer was the recipient of the 2015 John Bates Clark Medal from the American Economic Association. This significant honor — the profession’s most prestigious after the Nobel Prize — is given annually to an American economist under the age of 40; Fryer is its first black winner. In 2008, at the age of 30, he became the youngest African American to receive tenure at Harvard.

“I am tremendously excited to join forces with HGSE and to learn from the range of expertise and experience encompassed in its diverse faculty and students,” says Fryer. Among his priorities, he says, is to seek “new ways to lower the costs for faculty and students to run randomized field experiments, which will provide much-needed context to my work and amplify findings across the field. I look forward to advising the best and brightest education students in the country.”

Among many influential projects conducted under the auspices of EdLabs, Fryer has developed and implemented programs to test the impact of incentives on student achievement, teacher pay-for-performance concepts, and an effort to apply charter-school practices to a district turnaround school in Houston. His published work includes key studies on the effectiveness of charter schools, the origins and inequities of the racial achievement gap, and the impact of historically black colleges and universities.

Fryer is also known for his theoretical and empirical exploration of the penalties of “acting white,” which found that high-achieving black and Hispanic children faced ridicule and a loss of popularity compared with high-achieving white children, whose popularity grew as their achievements did. As with much of his other work, the study added nuance (and a reality check) to conversations about how education policy can effectively expand opportunity for underserved students.

With EdLabs, Fryer works to provide the kind of reliable scientific evidence that’s necessary to support good decisions in education policy, particularly when it comes to the education of minority students and students living in poverty. As the EdLabs mission statement puts it, “We aim to solve the problems that many others believe are intractable. Our ultimate goal is to close the achievement gap and put ourselves out of business.”