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N.S.F. To Create Science-Ed. Institute

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The National Science Foundation is soliciting proposals from universities and other institutions to create a national Institute for Science Education, where scholars from a variety of fields could develop strategies to promote reform.

'It's really an exciting concept,'' said a spokesman for the N.S.F.'s education and human-resources directorate. "We hope to provide a place where great minds get away from the day-to-day pressures ... and think great thoughts for us.''

In a request for proposals issued this month, the N.S.F. announced plans to spend roughly $2 million a year for the next five years to support the institute.

Researchers, the document states, would "address the totality of the educational enterprise to assess its effectiveness and examine what new activities need to be established, what activities are no longer needed, and what new approaches will enhance science education.''

Officials said the institute would focus primarily on one or two topics over a period of years. The topics could include "the systemic nature of educational reform,'' or how to develop a "national delivery system for newly developed ideas and materials.''

The N.S.F. envisions the institute as employing a small management staff, overseen by an independent governing board, to assist the work of a cadre of roughly 25 researchers. Researchers would receive annual appointments.

Prospective applicants for the initiative are encouraged to submit proposals of no more than six pages in length, describing what they believe should be the essential features of the institute.

The proposals should be sent by April 15 to Larry Suter at the division of research, evaluation, and dissemination, Room 855, 4201 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, Va. 22230.

In a related development, the N.S.F. has announced that it will award as many as eight planning grants of $50,000 each and three pilot and development grants of up to $200,000 each in the current fiscal year to launch its new Rural Systemic Initiative program.

Under the new program, which begins officially in the fiscal year that begins on Oct. 1, implementation grants of $1 million to $2 million annually for five years will be awarded to consortia of school districts, colleges and universities, and state agencies to foster reform in poor and isolated areas.
--PETER WEST

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