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SCIENTIFICALLY BASED RESEARCH IN FOREFRONT OF EDUCATION POLICY: New Academy of Sciences Approved by House Committee

On March 20, the House Education and Workforce Committee approved HR 3801, the Education Sciences Reform Act, a bill intended to replace the current Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI) with a more streamlined organization called the Academy of Education Sciences. Education Reform Subcommittee Chairman Michael Castle (R-DE) sponsored this legislation to align federal education research efforts with the provisions of Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act.

OERI is currently responsible for conducting grant-funded research and projects, collecting statistics on the status and progress of the nation’s education, and distributing information to the education community. Overseen by the National Education Research Policy and Priorities Board (NERPPB), OERI is divided into four branches: The National Center for Education Statistics, the Office of Reform Assistance and Dissemination, the National Library of Education, and five separate National Research Institutes – each of which over-sees research centers and reform programs.

The proposed bill would eliminate OERI and the office of the assistant secretary, replacing them with the Academy of Education Sciences and its director. A National Board for Education Sciences would oversee the Academy, which would consist of three national centers – education research, education statistics, and education evaluation – each headed by a commissioner.

The National Library of Education would disseminate information to the public and could include the continuation of funds to existing clearinghouses. The Secretary would oversee the Regional Educational Technical Assistance programs that could include combining current funds for labs, centers, and clearinghouses and redistributing them via a system of research grant competitions.

According to Chairman Castle, the Education Sciences Reform Act aims to meet the goals of No Child Left Behind, specifically emphasizing scientifically based research:

“This change, I believe, is significant. Quality education research, not fads or anecdotes, [should] inform decisions on the best way to improve student learning and narrow achievement gaps. By holding education research, evaluations, and statistics to new standards of quality, improving the focus of these activities so they address the needs of educators and policymakers, and laying the framework for the dissemination of high quality, scientifically valid information, I believe we can build the foundation to improve the education of our children and all of our nation’s students. And I believe my bill, H.R. 3801, is a good start.”

 

New “What Works” Clearinghouse

 

The U.S. Department of Education will create a national clearinghouse that provides education decision-makers with the tools they need to make choices that are guided by the best available scientific evidence. “The What Works Clearinghouse will allow users to determine which programs and practices have the strongest evidence of effectiveness based on solid, reliable, scientific research,” said Grover “Russ” Whitehurst, U.S. Assistant Secretary for the Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI).

For more information, access the press release.

 

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No Child Left Behind

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