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O.E.R.I. Increases Field-Initiated Research Grants

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Washington--In a move hailed by education researchers, the Education Department has increased the number and dollar amount of awards for field-initiated research. Announcing the annual awards late last month, Christopher T. Cross, the assistant secretary for educational research and improvement, said the department will award 12 grants this year, totaling $785,166.

In 1989, the department awarded nine grants totaling $574,598.

This year's awards, which were selected from among 240 proposals, will support research on such topics as literacy instruction, gender gaps in research and school administration, and education for minorities and immigrants, Mr. Cross said.

"Many of these 12 projects are directly aimed at improving the education of those children most 'at risk' of dropping out of school," he said. "Several projects focus not just on these children, but on their parents, too."

Gerald E. Sroufe, director of governmental and professional liaison for the American Educational Research Association, praised Mr. Cross and his staff for shifting funds among the agency's programs in order to boost the award amount. %

Nevertheless, Mr. Sroufe said, the total amount awarded for field-initiated research--less than 1 percent of oeri's $84-million budget--remains "woefully inadequate." He noted that the National Science Foundation, by contrast, gives out nearly 90 percent of its research funds for such projects.

"It might discourage people from looking to ed for support," he said. "The chance of being funded is so slight."

But Mr. Sroufe added that agency officials had "used the money as best they could" and funded investigations on key issues without any apparent ideological bias.

"They did a good job of trying to focus on important questions," he said.

The one-year awards, which were evaluated by scholars and practitioners from outside the federal government, ranged from $45,758 to $75,383. The annual competition for the grant program is open to individuals, higher-education institutions, and public and private organi zations and agencies.

Some of this year's awards include:

$69,783 to Ruben Rumyat and Kenji Ima, San Diego State Universi ty, to study how Hispanic and Asian youths adapt to educational experL iences in the San Diego city schools.

$63,757 to Bruce Biddle, Univer sity of Missouri at Columbia, to ex amine how policymakers in the U.S. and Australia use research findings to guide decisions about school prac tices.

$68,000 to Mary Ware, Santa Fe Indian School, and Candace Schau, University of New Mexico, to study methods of identifying gifted stuL dents in the Keresan-speaking Pueblo population.

$53,175 to Colleen Bell and Su san Chase, University of Tulsa, to study the circumstances of women who became school superintendents, and examine barriers in the educational system that may pre vent equal participation by women in these positions.

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