Federal Education Official Tapped to Lead Statistics Branch

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Mark S. Schneider, the deputy commissioner of the National Center for Education Research, an arm of the federal Institute of Education Sciences, is President Bush's choice to serve as the nation’s commissioner of education statistics.

The President announced his intention to nominate Mr. Schneider in a July 28 announcement. If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Mr. Schneider would succeed Grover J. “Russ” Whitehurst, who has been heading the education statistics arm of the U.S. Department of Education in an interim capacity, as well as serving as the director of the IES. Mr. Schneider’s term would last through June 20, 2009.

He was not immediately available for comment.

The education statistics commissioner oversees the National Center for Education Statistics, which collects, analyzes, and reports education information and statistics covering preschool through college and adult education. The center also conducts international comparison studies and oversees the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the nation’s most comprehensive source of comparative information on student performance across 50 states.

The center has been without a permanent director since 1999. Prior to Mr. Whitehurst’s interim tenure, the center was run by Robert Lerner, a social scientist who was given a “recess appointment” by President Bush after his nomination ran into opposition in the Senate because of his affiliation with some conservative organizations. Mr. Lerner’s recess appointment expired in January.

Political Science Background

Gerald E. Sroufe, the director of government relations for the Washington-based American Educational Research Association, said Mr. Schneider has been talked about for months as a possible nominee to the position. However, Mr. Sroufe said he did not know much about Mr. Schneider’s experience in the world of education statistics.

“We look forward to learning more about him as a candidate for the position,” Mr. Sroufe said.

Before coming to the IES in 2004, Mr. Schneider was a professor and chairman of the political science department at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. During his 18-year tenure there, he published books and papers analyzing the effect of school choice on student performance.

In one study, published in 1998 with fellow professor Paul Teske, Mr. Schneider suggested that student achievement in a New York City community district renowned for its school choice program was higher than in comparable city districts because of the program.

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