Here are some of the key provisions of HR 3801, the House-passed bill to replace the Department of Education’s office of educational research and improvement with an “Academy of Education Sciences.”
Academy of Education Sciences. The new academy would be headed by a director rather than an assistant secretary. Appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate, the director would serve for six years. The director would propose priorities for education research, evaluation, and statistics, and would manage the academy’s activities.
National Board for Education Sciences. Consisting of 15 presidentially appointed voting members, the board would approve research priorities for the new academy and advise academy officials on scientific-quality matters. Officials from other federal scientific and statistical agencies would also serve on the board as nonvoting members.
The Centers for Research, Evaluation, and Statistics. The Academy of Education Sciences would consist of three main centers: one each on research, statistics, and evaluation. Each center would be headed by a commissioner to be appointed by the academy director for a six-year term.
- The National Center for Education Research, replacing the five education research institutes that exist now, would be charged with carrying out the academy’s research agenda, directing “scientifically valid” studies on education, and reviewing existing research for knowledge gaps.
- The National Center for Education Statistics would basically remain as it is now, with one notable change: The academy director would appoint the commissioner. That task now falls to the president.
- The National Center for Program Evaluation would be a new creation. It is intended to consolidate the evaluation activities going on around the Department of Education and to better buffer those efforts from political influence. The proposal also calls for new standards for the scientific quality of the evaluations.
Regional Educational Technical Assistance. The bill would combine federal funds that now support a wide range of regional education laboratories, clearinghouses, and technical-assistance centers into one pot of money. That money would be used to establish at least two entities in each of 10 regions around the country to provide technical assistance, research, and development services to local education agencies. The secretary of education would award contracts for those organizations on a competitive basis, but separate regional contract boards would oversee them. The bill also would create regional advisory committees to help set the research agendas for their respective areas.
Knowledge Utilization Office. Working under the academy director, this office would disseminate “scientifically valid” education research to the public. It would also oversee the National Library of Education.
Funding. The bill would authorize a total of $701 million in annual funding: $400 million for the academy, $112 million for the National Assessment Governing Board and the National Assessment of Educational Progress, and $189 million for regional assistance. At least half the academy’s funding would have to be used to support long-term research projects.
SOURCE: U.S. House of Representatives
A version of this article appeared in the May 08, 2002 edition of Education Week as Highlights of House Research Bill