School & District Management

House Plan Would Create Research ‘Academy’

By Debra Viadero — August 02, 2000 3 min read

Looking to create a measure of political independence for federally financed education studies, a House subcommittee last week approved a plan to form a new national academy for education research.

If it passes both chambers, which is unlikely this year, the measure could usher in the second major overhaul of the Department of Education’s research functions in less than a decade. The department’s primary research agency, the office of educational research and improvement, was last reauthorized in 1994.

Both times around, the aim has been to improve the quality of education research and make it more accessible to educators.

“Education research is broken in our country, and Congress must work to make it more useful, more independent of political influence, and less bureaucratic than the current system,” said Rep. Michael N. Castle, the bill’s chief sponsor.

Mr. Castle, a Delaware Republican, chairs the House education committee’s Early Childhood, Youth, and Families Subcommittee, which approved the measure July 26.

The proposed academy, which would operate autonomously within the department, represents a compromise. Mr. Castle and other Republican lawmakers had favored breaking the academy out of the department altogether.

But Democrats, along with the education research community, opposed such a move. They worried that separating the research component would distance education research too far from practice—as well as from other federal education programs.

The new plan has already won support from national groups representing school administrators, school boards, and state superintendents.

But education research groups called the compromise disappointing, particularly since the bill authorizes no funding increases to go with the new structure. Currently, less than 1 percent—roughly $400 million—of the department’s budget goes for research, development, and statistics.

“If you’re not willing to put money into something like this, then you’re going to have problems ensuring capacity,” said C. Todd Jones, the president of the National Education Knowledge Industry Association, a Washington-based group representing federally funded education research laboratories as well as other research groups.

Reshaping Research

Under the subcommittee’s plan, the new academy, replacing the existing OERI, would oversee practically all of the Education Department’s research, evaluation, statistical, and information duties. Some of those functions, such as program evaluation, are housed elsewhere in the department now.

And a director, rather than an assistant secretary, would be appointed by the president to head the academy for a fixed, six-year term. To help oversee the academy, the bill would also create a national board.

Three centers would make up the academy. They are: the National Center for Education Research, the National Center for Program Evaluation, and the National Center for Education Statistics. Only the latter, the NCES, exists now.

The education research center would replace the five national research institutes created during the last reauthorization to bolster and concentrate studies in major research areas.

Besides underwriting and overseeing studies, the center’s commissioner would direct research reviews, much like those conducted by the National Research Council, that evaluate and summarize all the research in the field and identify existing gaps.

Those reviews would be carried out by existing federally financed centers.

All of the research financed by the academy would have to meet criteria set down in the proposal for “scientifically based education research,” a definition that encompasses both quantitative and qualitative studies.

Among its other changes, the proposal would also roll the Education Department’s seven regional research laboratories, its technical-assistance centers, its regional technology centers, and some of the funds from the Eisenhower Regional Mathematics and Science Education Consortia into a $118 million, regionally based block-grant program.

Under the program, governing boards in each of 10 regions around the country would decide how best to spend federal money directed their way for research and technical assistance.

Prospects for passage of the bill in this election year are uncertain. Members of the Senate have already said they have no intention of taking it up before next year.

A version of this article appeared in the August 02, 2000 edition of Education Week as House Plan Would Create Research ‘Academy’

Events

Jobs The EdWeek Top School Jobs Virtual Career Fair
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Curriculum Webinar
How to Power Your Curriculum With Digital Books
Register for this can’t miss session looking at best practices for utilizing digital books to support their curriculum.
Content provided by OverDrive
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Embracing Student Engagement: The Pathway to Post-Pandemic Learning
As schools emerge from remote learning, educators are understandably worried about content and skills that students would otherwise have learned under normal circumstances. This raises the very real possibility that children will face endless hours
Content provided by Newsela

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management Opinion Are Your Leadership Practices Good Enough for Racial Justice?
Scratch being a hero. Instead, build trust and reach beyond school walls, write Jennifer Cheatham and John B. Diamond.
Jennifer Cheatham & John B. Diamond
5 min read
Illustration of leadership.
Collage by Laura Baker/Education Week (Images: DigitalVision Vectors, iStock, Getty)
School & District Management We Pay Superintendents Big Bucks and Expect Them to Succeed. But We Hardly Know Them
National data is skimpy, making it hard to know what influences superintendents' decisions to move on, retire, or how long they stay. Why?
8 min read
Conceptual image of tracking with data.
marcoventuriniautieri/iStock/Getty
School & District Management Data For the First Time in the Pandemic, a Majority of 4th Graders Learn in Person Full Time
The latest monthly federal data still show big racial and socioeconomic differences in who has access to full-time in-person instruction.
3 min read
Student with backpack.
surasaki/iStock/Getty
School & District Management From Our Research Center To Offer Remote Learning in the Fall or Not? Schools Are Split
An EdWeek Research Center survey shows that nearly 4 of every 10 educators say their schools will not offer any remote instruction options.
4 min read
Image of a teacher working with a student through a screen session.
Ridofranz/iStock/Getty