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Bennett Modifies Research Missions

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Washington--Secretary of Education William J. Bennett last week announced changes in the missions of the 11 research and development centers to be sponsored by the National Institute of Education at a cost of $65 million over the next five years.

In the May 14 Federal Register, Mr. Bennett announced cuts in the five-year grant totals for the centers on the study of writing--from $5-million to $4 million--and on state and local policy development--from $7.5 million to $6.5 million.

He increased the maximum awards for the centers on effective elementary and secondary schools--from $5 million to $5.5 million each--and for the center on postsecondary teaching and learning--from $4 million to $5 million.

According to the Federal Register notice, Mr. Bennett also "encourages ... a general emphasis" on content-related studies; "state-of-the-art" syntheses of existing research; learning among adolescents at the middle-school level; improved coordination in research among related fields; and projects that develop ways to compare and analyze the various state and local efforts to improve education.

The changes closely follow the recommendations made by a panel of distinguished educators convened last month by Mr. Bennett to advise him on the nie centers' missions. The panel will meet for the second and last time June 6 to discuss departmentwide research priorities. (See Education Week, April 24, 1985.)

The May 15 Federal Register published an addendum, stating that the Secretary discouraged the centers' use of the federal funds for the development of instructional materials.

Awards Expected

Despite fears among researchers and statements by department officials that Mr. Bennett at one point weighed major changes in the centers' missions, the modifications announced last week are relatively minor, researchers said.

In March, the department announced winners of the first stage of the competition. (See Education Week, March 20, 1985.) Final applications are due Aug. 15, and the winners are scheduled to be announced by Nov. 15.--jh

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