Bob Slavin was a force of nature, a world-famous education researcher who was also far more than that. A policy advocate (see for example his recent proposal for a post-Covid “Marshall plan” for schools, which strikes me as akin to what Biden is now proposing) and a major “doer” in his own right. Best known of course for the “Success for All” reading program, now more than three decades old. It’s a genuinely effective approach to early reading, validated both by the federal “What Works Clearinghouse” and by its acceptance and use in hundreds of school districts. Something over 1,000 schools today and several other countries. It dates to 1987, just a few years after “A Nation at Risk,” and the evidence suggests that it’s especially effective with poor and minority kids in the earliest grades of school, when getting a leg up on literacy matters most.
But Slavin wasn’t selfish about it. Success for All is nonprofit, and Slavin’s “evidence for ESSA” website lists a bunch of other effective reading programs besides his own.
And he was a lot broader than reading. He was also a major theorist of “cooperative learning.” Author of a much-used basic text in ed psych. I think the only Hopkins ed-school faculty member who qualified as a “university” professor, which generally means very broad-gauged, able to roam across the entire university.
But he was feisty, too, and willing to engage in combat. Check out the “backlash” section in this Fordham report on what happened to Bush 43’s “Reading First” program, and you’ll see Bob as a major combatant on behalf of (I would say) both Success for All and his own sense of right-and-wrong.