Skip to main content

Kirabo Jackson receives Walder award

One of the world’s leading experts in the economics of education recognized for research excellence
Kirabo Jackson
Kirabo Jackson focuses on teacher labor markets. Photo by Veronica Hinojosa

Kirabo “Bo” Jackson, professor of human development and social policy in the School of Education and Social Policy (SESP), has been named the 17th recipient of the Martin E. and Gertrude G. Walder Award for Research Excellence. Jackson is one of the world's leading experts in the economics of education and is known for his creative, thorough and highly convincing research on some of the most important education policy topics of the day.

The award, established in 2002 by alumnus Dr. Joseph A. Walder and given annually by the provost, recognizes excellence in research at Northwestern. 

“Bo’s work is quantifying the relationship between school funding and student outcomes at a critical time for public education in the United States; his research has the potential to inform education policy and make our education system more equitable,” Provost Jonathan Holloway said.  

Jackson has analyzed several important aspects of education policy, including the importance of public school funding on student outcomes through adulthood, the effects of college-preparatory programs on students’ college and labor market outcomes, the effects of educational tracking on students’ academic achievement and the effects of single-sex education on students’ academic performance.

Some of Jackson’s most impactful work has focused on better understanding teacher labor markets. His extensive work on teachers analyzes the role of peer learning in teacher effectiveness, how student demographics directly affect the distribution of teacher quality across schools, how a teacher’s effectiveness depends on the schooling context within which they operate, how best to measure teacher quality and other related topics.

"Over the years, this award has been received by some of the most talented and consequential researchers at Northwestern,” Jackson said. “I am truly honored to be included in this list."  

His forthcoming paper in the Journal of Political Economy is also one of the most important economic papers about the effectiveness of teachers. Instead of focusing on test scores as a measure of teacher effectiveness, he has shown that the most efficacious teachers are those who can produce lasting gains in their students’ social and emotional skills.

Jackson has been recognized by the National Science Foundation as a Research Award recipient. He has also been funded through numerous major grants including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation of New York. Jackson’s work has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Spencer Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Smith Richardson Foundation and other organizations.

Currently, Jackson is an editor of the Journal of Human Resources and serves on the Committee on the Status of Minority Groups in the Economics Profession at the American Economic Association. He also is a fellow at Northwestern’s Institute for Policy Research a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Joseph Walder earned his doctoral and medical degrees from Northwestern, then founded a company that supplies synthetic DNA for research and clinical applications. A complete list of award recipients can be found on the Office of the Provost website.