Vanderbilt Peabody professors honored with prestigious McGraw Prize

Doug and Lynn Fuchs
Professors Doug and Lynn Fuchs (Steve Green/Vanderbilt)

Doug and Lynn Fuchs, research professors in the Department of Special Education at Vanderbilt Peabody College, have been awarded the 2021 Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Prize in PreK-12 Education for their exceptional work on behalf of children with learning disabilities. Since 1988, the highly respected McGraw Prize has celebrated innovation in education by recognizing outstanding individuals who have dedicated themselves to improving education and whose accomplishments are making a difference in the lives of students.

“Serving as the Fuchs’s dean since 1998, it has been my privilege to observe the expanding scope and influence of their work,” says Camilla Benbow, Patricia and Rodes Hart Dean of Education and Human Development at Peabody. “They are trailblazers in special education who have expanded our knowledge about how best to teach reading and mathematics to children at risk for low achievement. They have accomplished this on an international scale. Few other researchers can aspire to this kind of influence.”

Across four decades of methodologically rigorous and innovative research and development, Lynn Fuchs and Doug Fuchs helped establish Data-Based Individualization as the most respected approach to instructing students with serious learning disabilities and as the sine qua non of special education intervention. They have produced various scientifically validated programs in literacy and mathematics for children and youth ranging from academically talented to academically at risk. The Fuchses and their former doctoral students have worked with thousands of educators across the U.S., encouraging them to conduct these programs in a multi-tiered response-to-intervention (RTI/MTSS) framework to provide instruction of appropriate intensity to students with varying degrees of need. In their current research, they explore children’s cognitive strengths and weaknesses and how instructional programs can most effectively respond.

Winners of the 2021 McGraw Prizes were announced on September 29 by the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education (Penn GSE). The school became the new home for the Prize in 2020. Honorees in other categories were Richard Baraniuk of Rice University, who was awarded the McGraw Prize in Higher Education, and Carol D. Lee of Northwestern University, who received the McGraw Prize in Learning Science Research.

“This year’s winners meet the highest standards of excellence, and their contributions highlight the importance of access, fairness and impact in education – essential attributes in the wake of the COVID crisis. We salute these outstanding individuals and educators everywhere,” said Harold McGraw III, former chairman, CEO and president of The McGraw-Hill Companies.

“We are so proud to be able to partner with the McGraw family for these awards. It gives me great pleasure to celebrate the work of these remarkable educators,” said Penn GSE Dean Pam Grossman. “Their body of work embodies a tremendous mix of innovation and inspiration aimed at making substantive changes in how we teach and learn.”

The winners will be honored Wednesday, November 10, in a streaming ceremony. Each winner will also receive an award of $50,000 and a Prize sculpture. For more information or to register for the ceremony, please go to

The Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Prize in Education nominees are nominated through a public nomination process, with winners chosen over three rounds of judging, including the final round 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 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.

By Jane Sevier