Yesterday, the House Education and Workforce Committee held a hearing to learn more about the Institute for Education Sciences, the research arm of the U.S. Department of Education, to inform the reauthorization – rewrite – of the Education Sciences Reform Act.
What was revealed will come as no big surprise to educators and researchers alike: IES has increased the rigor of education research but is challenged by poor dissemination.
Lawmakers’ questions centered on the relevance of IES supported and even questioned whether any federal investment was necessary to support education research, or whether it should be a function left to states and the private sector. To this last point, the witnesses generally agreed that there is a clear federal role needed in conducting research in education.
Getting high-quality research into the hands of educators is a priority of CEC. That’s why we issued key recommendations to improve IES and specifically the National Center for Special Education Research (NCSER), earlier this year.
CEC’s recommendations – which were developed in close collaboration with the Division for Research and with feedback from CEC members – focus on four principles:
- Strengthening the national center for special education research;
- Providing relevant research to bridge the research‐to‐practice gap;
- Explicitly recognizing special/gifted education throughout the structure of the institute for education sciences; and
- Supporting the vitality of the institute for education sciences by fostering strong, consistent leadership.
Witnesses from yesterday’s hearing provided their thoughts on the rigor, relevancy, and timeliness of IES supported research, which can be read here. Witnesses included: Mr. George A. Scott, Director for Education, Workforce, and Income Security Issues, U.S. Government Accountability Office; Dr. Bridget Terry Long, Academic Dean, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Chair, National Board for Education Sciences, Institute of Education Sciences; Dr. James Kemple, Executive Director, Research Alliance for New York City Schools, New York University; and Ms. Kathy Christie, Vice President, Knowledge/Information Management & Dissemination, Education Commission of the States.
What should be interesting to watch for is the Government Accountability Office’s review of IES, which has been in the works for some time and is expected out later this year. Yesterday’s hearing offered a preliminary summary of the report, which highlights the need for IES to become more timely and to better include stakeholder input into its research agenda, one of CEC’s recommendations.