School & District Management

Initial Thoughts from the First House Education Research Hearing

By Sarah D. Sparks — November 16, 2011 2 min read
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A subcommittee of the House Education and Workforce panel has just concluded its first hearing on the reauthorization of the Education Sciences Reform Act, the federal law governing education research.

The hearing included testimony from former Florida education commissioner Eric Smith; Grover “Russ” Whitehurst, director of the Brown Center on Education Policy at the Washington-based Brookings Institution; Stanford University economist Caroline Hoxby;
and Steve Fleischman, the director of the Regional Educational Laboratory Northwest in Portland, Ore. My colleague Alyson Klein at Politics K-12 is going to give you the juicy political run-down on the meeting, but in the meantime here were a few of my Twitter takeaways during the course of the discussion:

@SarahDSparks Hoxby: Research methods should evolve in response to unanswerable questions. #edresearch #esra
8 minutes ago

@SarahDSparks Whitehurst tells Congress not to “water down” #edresearch; it has taken a long time to gain respect.
9 minutes ago

@SarahDSparks Whitehurst seems to think of scientifically based research like obscenity: Trained people know it when they see it. #esra #edresearch
10 minutes ago

@SarahDSparks Fleischman: Don’t forget the human element; a lot of teachers’ learning takes place in the context of doing their jobs. #edresearch #esra
12 minutes ago

@SarahDSparks Hoxby: U.S. could learn from British system of school inspectors. Brit teachers get “intense experience,” U.S... (cont)
14 minutes ago

@SarahDSparks Can feds be that agile? RT @LaurenJGibbs: Hoxby: @GatesEd funds more speculative research, and shuts down programs more quickly than gov’t
27 minutes ago

@SarahDSparks Hoxby to House: When the Gates Foundation finds something doesn’t work, it doesn’t take 2 years to shut down; it takes 2 months. #edpolicy
29 minutes ago

@SarahDSparks What don’t we know? Whitehurst: digital curriculum; Hoxby: teacher incentives; Fleischman: data use; Smith: class differentiation #ESRA
30 minutes ago

@SarahDSparks Whitehurst: Some of the problem with #edresearch is translating it effectively for educators, some of it is simply not knowing what to do.
34 minutes ago

@SarahDSparks Fleischman to House: Even the best-researched programs fail if poorly implemented, yet we don’t study implementation enough. #edresearch
1 hour ago

@SarahDSparks Hoxby: “I could write a much better study of Dutch school choice reforms than U.S.; their data is just much better.” #edresearch #ESRA
1 hour ago

@SarahDSparks Stanford’s Hoxby tells House “Even experimental studies aren’t dummy-proof,” and feds need better research review. #ESRA #edresearch #NCLB
1 hour ago

@SarahDSparks Whitehurst testifies: “Our knowledge increases too fast for legislation to keep up.” Should Congress require research use? #ESRA #edresearch

We’ll be posting more on the hearing as we digest it. What did you think?

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Inside School Research blog.