Federal Officials Aim to Reshape Regional Education Laboratories
Lawmakers, meanwhile, target labs for cuts
The U.S. Department of Education is set to launch a redesign of the nation’s regional educational laboratories—right in the teeth of a budget fight to determine their future.
The network of 10 geographically distributed labs, originally authorized in 1964, is one of the longest-running federal education research programs. The Institute of Education Sciences, the department’s research arm, was expected to open bids for a new round of five-year contracts for the labs around March 25, with a webinar briefing to follow on March 30. The contracts would provide $67 million a year, divided among the labs, to conduct and support research based on local, state and district needs, and develop “research alliances” with local policymakers to make better use of the maturing state longitudinal student databases.
Each lab and its governing board would select three to five key research topics appropriate for its region, such as recruiting high-quality teachers in rural schools. As they stand now, the labs are “spread very thinly and they’re not really digging deeply into any set of topics,” said Ruth Neild, the associate commissioner for knowledge utilization for the IES. “This is not a huge sea change, but it is a slight change...
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