The normally arcane topic of education research drew a hefty crowd
to a meeting last week hosted by the Department of Education.
"Who would've thought so many people would be excited about education research?" quipped Susan B. Neuman, the assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education, as she surveyed the audience.
The impetus for all the interest was the newly revised Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Signed last month, it requires "scientifically based research" for everything from teaching reading to preventing violence. That phrase or a similar one crops up more than 110 times in the law, suggesting that lawmakers are pretty excited about education research, too.
Last week's meeting was the first in a series being planned by the department to help educators understand what "scientifically based research" means and how to spot it. It drew about 150 representatives of national education groups, reporters, and department program officers.
Conferees got an introductory talk on research methods and reports on four research areas: math, reading, anti-drug and violence-prevention programs, and comprehensive school reform.
The news wasn't all good. In mathematics, for example, Russell M.Gersten, an education professor at the University of Oregon in Eugene, said his own review of studies in that field turned up only two practices that boost student achievement—peer tutoring and giving students regular feedback on their progress.
A vacancy will soon open up on the agency's 7th floor. No, Secretary of Education Rod Paige isn't leaving.
But reportedly, his chief spokeswoman Lindsey Kozberg, who came on board a year ago, is moving on. She has decided to take a position at the USA Freedom Corps, which President Bush unveiled during his State of the Union Address.
—Debra Viadero & Erik W. Robelen
Vol. 21, Issue 22, Page 30