Around 1,400 researchers and assorted others gathered on the banks of the Potomac River this week for the Institute of Education Sciences’ annual research conference. The two-day event is mostly targeted at researchers with work being funded by the institute, which is the main research arm of the U.S. Department of Education.
A keynote speaker this year was U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Duncan has been criticized in the past for promoting some education reforms that don’t have much of a research track record.
In Tuesday’s speech at Maryland’s National Harbor, however, the secretary had praise for education research. Here’s what he had to say:
In the world of education, many people make decisions based on impressions. ... But gut feelings aren't good enough. They don't give us a complete and accurate picture of what that school needs to get better. That's your role. We need you to tell us whether we're on the right path. You need to point the way for the future of education reform."
Duncan also used his soapbox to praise Delaware’s and Tennessee’s efforts—in their winning Race to the Top proposals—to involve researchers from the beginning to evaluate and inform their school improvement processes.
“This is exactly the type of research we need—research that produces action,” Duncan said.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Inside School Research blog.