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N.I.E. Opens Competition for Sponsorship of 11 Research Centers

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Washington--The National Institute of Education has opened the competition for sponsorship of its 11 new research and development centers.

Under the terms of the two-round competition outlined by the institute last week, the institute will award three planning grants of up to $15,000 in each of the 11 areas to enable competing institutions to develop their final proposals. Applications for these planning grants are due in January.

Applications for the five-year contracts to operate the centers must be received by the nie by June 6. The winners of the competition will be announced in September and will be expected to have the centers in place by the end of the year, according to the institute.

Under the terms of the competition, planning grants may be sought by "any public or private organization, institution, agency, or individual." Sponsorship of the centers is open to "any institution of higher education or interstate agency established by compact which operates a subsidiary body established to conduct postsecondary educational research and development."

$62.5 Million in Grants

A total of $62.5 million over five years is expected to be awarded through the competition. According to nie documents, the centers will focus on these topics:

Teacher Education, to explore research-based reforms of teacher education and staff development.

Teacher Quality and Effectiveness, to study training, performance testing, and other means of attracting and retaining talented teachers.

Student Testing, Evaluation, and Standards, to conduct research on processes of measurement, assessment, and evaluation of teaching and learning.

Study of Writing, to develop the research knowledge needed to improve and expand writing skills and the thinking skills that support them.

Study of Learning, to focus onel5lways to teach students to become better thinkers, learners, and problem solvers, with particular attention to mathematics and science.

Effective Elementary Schools, to conduct research on the factors in the elementary school and classroom that can significantly raise achievement, particularly among disadvantaged students.

Effective Secondary Schools, to conduct studies on the factors that influence learning in the secondary school, including the relationship between school management and effective instruction.

Education and Employment, to explore education and training alternatives that contribute to lifelong learning and retraining, for both personal development and effective instruction.

Postsecondary Management and Governance, to conduct research on governance, finance, and management, with special attention to the state-level governance of postsecondary systems with multiple campuses.

Postsecondary Teaching and Learning, to conduct research on improving the quality of postsecondary teaching and learning, giving special attention to community, two-year, and liberal-arts colleges.

State and Local Policy Development and Leadership in Education, to study state approaches to national problems, translating the results of such research into improvement strategies for classrooms, resource allocation, and policymaking.

Laboratories Competition

The nie is also reviewing planning-grant applications from potential sponsors of 10 regional research laboratories and will announce the winners of those grants on Dec. 4.

Full proposals for the laboratories competition will be due in the spring and the winners will be announced in June, according to nie officials.

The research laboratories identify and help solve regional education problems, while the centers focus on education topics of national significance. Together, the laboratories and centers form the core of a nationwide research system in education.

The federal government, through the nie, has supported the laboratories and centers since the mid-1960's. There had been no change in the sponsorship of the research organizations until 1981, when the Congress, at the urging of the Reagan Administration, ordered the Secretary of Education to open up the process to competitive bidding.

As part of that process, Secretary Terrel H. Bell reshaped the missions of many of the centers and re-drew several boundary lines for the regions served by the laboratories.

The centers on state and local policy development, teacher quality and effectiveness, writing, postsecondary teaching and learning, effective secondary schools, and effective elementary schools will focus on topics not specifically covered by existing centers, nie officials said.

Four other nie-sponsored research centers are on a different competitive schedule. They include the Institute for Research on Teaching, the Center for the Study of Reading, the Educational Technology Center, and the National Center for Bilingual Research.

According to nie, each of the research centers "is expected to exercise leadership in its mission area" and "to attract the sustained attention of the best researchers to educational problems."

An nie official familiar with the laboratories and centers competitions said last week that there is likely to be stiff competition for the sponsorship of many of the centers. In particular, he noted that the centers on education and employment; testing; state and local policy development; and teaching "have gotten quite a bit of attention" from prospective sponsors.

"We are also seeing quite a bit of collaboration among groups of potential sponsors," the official said. "In many cases, two or three universities are combining their staffs rather than entering individually. We're quite pleased with what we've seen so far. There are some good proposals on the labs side and the signs are promising for the centers competition."

For information, contact Raymond F. Wormwood, contract and grants management, National Institute of Education, 1200 19th St., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20208; (202) 254-5080.

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