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Speaking of Research

What does it take to build educational practices supported by research?

According to Robert E. Slavin, the co-developer of Success for All, a widely used, comprehensive school improvement program, the answer is "more money."

Mr. Slavin was the featured speaker last week for a new lecture series organized by the Department of Education's office of educational research and improvement. The series is designed to showcase examples of evidence-based educational practices for congressional aides, reporters, and national education groups in Washington.

While his talk focused on describing more than a decade of studies that support his program, Mr. Slavin also used the occasion to pitch for more federal funding for the field. The rigorous research federal officials are now calling for in education, said the Johns Hopkins University researcher, is expensive. That's a problem for the field, which gets far fewer federal dollars than research in other areas like agriculture or medicine.

A case in point: Mr. Slavin has already received a seemingly princely $6 million grant from the Education Department to conduct a national, random-assignment study on his program's effectiveness. Yet, he says, it wasn't enough.

Program developers had to kick in their own funds to provide financial incentives to persuade enough schools to participate. That's partly because educators are reluctant to take part in a study in which they may end up in a control group and get no special help. Researchers also had to promise to provide the program to every school, including those in the control group, in at least some grades.

Mr. Slavin's lecture was the first of four planned so far. Other talks this year will focus on department-funded research that has looked at: developing early reading skills, knowledge- and skills- based teacher pay plans, and the impactgood or badof the General Educational Development credential, or GED.

—Debra Viadero

Vol. 21, Issue 40, Page 28

Published in Print: June 12, 2002, as Federal File

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