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Highlights of Academy Report Examining Roles for O.E.R.I.

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Highlights of the recommendations of the National Academy of Sciences' report, "Research and Education Reform: Roles for the Office of Educational Research and Improvement'':

Governance

  • A policymaking board should be established and charged with responsibilities for monitoring the needs and accomplishments of federal education research and guiding the agenda-setting process of the O.E.R.I.
  • The O.E.R.I. should have a director appointed for a six-year term to permit stable leadership.
  • The agency should be required to support a balanced portfolio of research, development, and dissemination; this would require substantially expanding support for field-initiated research, basic research, and sustained research-and-development activities.

Organization and Functions

  • Several R&D directorates should be established, each targeting a specific problem area with a sustained program of research and development that includes field-initiated efforts, institutionally based R&D, and special projects.
  • A Reform Assistance Directorate should be established to coordinate reform-assistance efforts, including the work of the laboratories, the Program Effectiveness Panel and the National Diffusion Network, the Fund for the Improvement and Reform of Schools and Teaching programs supporting school-based reforms, and a new electronic network linking people concerned about research and education.
  • The new network should incorporate an enhanced Educational Resources Information Center.
  • The National Center for Education Statistics should remain as it is organizationally, but its staff should be substantially increased to be commensurate with the additional responsibilities it has been given over the past five years.
  • The O.E.R.I. should help researchers, practitioners, and policymakers forge learning-community partnerships in the quest for education reform.

Operations

  • The agency should have independent authority for staffing, contracts and grants, and reporting--the first and second to improve service and the third to minimize opportunities for political pressure.
  • The O.E.R.I.'s procedures for its contract and grant peer-review panels should ensure that research merit and programmatic merit of proposals are judged only by those with the appropriate expertise.
  • The agency should take steps to attract high-quality personnel to education research, particularly scholars from other disciplines and underrepresented minorities.
  • The O.E.R.I. should recruit highly qualified personnel from various disciplines for the agency's staff and create an intellectually stimulating environment for its staff. --R.R.

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