Research Projects Funded Through 3 N.I.E. Divisions
The research of the National Institute of Education is primarily conducted through grants and contracts funded through the institute's three program divisions. The offices, and some of their major projects, are:
Dissemination and the Improvement of Practice. The division's work includes programs to inform the education community and the public about research findings and "outreach" programs to involve educators in nie's research.
Projects of the division have included: the Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC), the computerized data clearinghouses across the country that collect and catalog education-related research; the nie's library in Washington, D.C.; and the "capacity-building program," which sponsors dissemination activities in state education departments and regional education consortia; the minorities and women's program, which provides grants, fellowships, and workshops to encourage minorities and women to enter the educational-research field; and the urban-superintendent's network, an information-exchange forum for 23 superintendents.
The division has also supported studies of how research findings should be translated so they are useful for practitioners, the value of having educators help researchers design research plans, and the ways educators use research findings.
Five Congressionally mandated regional educational laboratories contribute to the division's research efforts.
Teaching and Learning. The division supports research in the basic skills, testing, and evaluation. It conducts most of the institute's fundamental-research activity.
The division supports the National Assessment of Educational Progress, which gathers information annually about the academic attainment of 9-, 13-, and 17-year-olds.
Its other projects have included: the effective-schools research; studies on the effects of "time on task"; studies of staff development; studies of various testing mechanisms, including minimum-competency testing; studies of students' writing abilities; projects on language acquisition, including bilingual reading skills; and studies of literacy problems of young adults.
In mathematics, its projects have examined the use of computers and calculators in instruction, the shortage of mathematics teachers, and the status of mathematics education around the world. The division has also supported the development of a mathematics-curriculum package.
The division's research on reading is conducted primarily through a contract with the Center for the Study of Reading at the University of Illinois. The center's research focuses on "how students understand what they read," and it has sponsored conferences with textbook publishers to encourage the improvement of beginning-reading texts.
In addition to the reading center, the division, as required by federal statute, supports the work of four research-and-development centers and two regional educational laboratories.
Educational Policy and Organization. The division supports studies of school finance, law, governance, and management at the local, state, and federal levels.
The division has conducted several Congressionally mandated studies, including evaluations of federal compensatory-education and vocational-education programs, and the "Violent Schools--Safe Schools" report, a study examining the extent of violence and vandalism in the schools. It is currently finishing work on a study of school finance for the Congress.
The division's work has included studies of rural schooling, higher-education financing, school-finance equalization efforts in the states, the effects of declining enrollments, and the taxing capabilities of the states. Other efforts have included: a compilation of states' education laws, research in effective school-desegregation techniques, and projects on educators' responses to changes in public policy.
Five Congressionally mandated research-and-development centers and one regional educational laboratory are funded through the division.--ew
Vol. 02, Issue 15