School & District Management

Panel To Define Scientific Rigor In Schools Research

By Debra Viadero — January 10, 2001 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Looking to “make a science out of education,” the National Research Council has convened a panel of experts to define what constitutes scientific quality in education research.

Researchers and policymakers have long complained about a lack of common standards for federally financed studies in the field. Such concerns, in fact, prompted members of the House of Representatives last year to draw up their own definition for “scientifically based education research.” That definition, which proved controversial, was plugged into an unsuccessful bill aimed at reauthorizing the federal Department of Education’s primary research operations. (“House Plan Would Create Research ‘Academy,’” Aug. 2, 2000.)

“There’s clearly a recognition that we’d better do something about this,” said Kenji Hakuta, the chairman of the National Educational Research Policy and Priorities Board, a federal panel that advises the department. “I think it’s been very good medicine for the field of education to have that kind of legislative mandate proposed.”

The board is footing the bill for the new panel, which operates out of the congressionally chartered National Academy of Sciences, the parent organization of the National Research Council. The hope is that the Washington-based panel’s work, representing the consensus of 17 prominent academics and practitioners inside and outside education, will lead to a more widely accepted definition of scientific quality and improve the credibility of studies in the field.

The panel is scheduled to complete its work by early fall, before Congress is expected to consider any new measures for reauthorizing the Education Department’s office of educational research and improvement. The OERI oversees much of the research that goes on under the department’s umbrella.

The Committee on Scientific Principles in Education Research will also make recommendations to the OERI on ways to support studies that meet the newer, better research standards it hopes to outline.

Many Voices

The panel is the second formed by the national academy to focus on education research. An earlier committee issued a report in 1999 with a 15-year strategy for making education studies more useful. That group is now hatching more concrete plans for mobilizing that vision, and the new panel will work closely with it. (“NRC Seeks New Agenda for Research,” April 14, 1999.)

“A lot of the difficulty of this whole issue stems from the fact that education is viewed from a lot of disciplinary perspectives,” said Lisa Towne, the senior program officer overseeing the new panel for the National Research Council. Besides education specialists, others conducting studies on schools and learning include psychologists, anthropologists, economists, statisticians, and historians.

Headed by Richard J. Shavelson, a former dean of Stanford University’s education school, the new panel represents a similarly diverse mix.

Among its members are: Margaret Eisenhart, an educational anthropologist at the University of Colorado at Boulder; Jack M. Fletcher, a child neuropsychologist from the University of Texas-Houston Health Science Center who has conducted education studies for the National Institute of Child Health and Development; Eric A. Hanushek, an economist who is currently a fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution; and Ellen Condliffe Lagemann, an education historian and the president of the Spencer Foundation in Chicago, which supports education research, including articles on the subject for Education Week.

Critics of education research on the panel include Robert F. Boruch, a statistical expert from the University of Pennsylvania.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the January 10, 2001 edition of Education Week as Panel To Define Scientific Rigor In Schools Research

Events

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
Classroom Technology Webinar
Academic Integrity in the Age of Artificial Intelligence
As AI writing tools rapidly evolve, learn how to set standards and expectations for your students on their use.
Content provided by Turnitin
Recruitment & Retention Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table: Chronic Teacher Shortage: Where Do We Go From Here?  
Join Peter DeWitt, Michael Fullan, and guests for expert insights into finding solutions for the teacher shortage.
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
Reading & Literacy Webinar
The Science of Reading: Tools to Build Reading Proficiency
The Science of Reading has taken education by storm. Learn how Dr. Miranda Blount transformed literacy instruction in her state.
Content provided by hand2mind

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 3 Things That Keep Superintendents in Their Jobs
Two experienced leaders say strong relationships with the community and school board make all the difference.
5 min read
Magnet attracting employee candidates represented by wooden dolls
iStock/Getty
School & District Management 5 Things to Know About How the Culture Wars Are Disrupting Schools
Disruptions were more acutely felt in districts with more affluent and white students, but there weren't always clear-cut political lines.
6 min read
Illustration of neutral warning symbols, with two standing out in the colors red and blue.
filo/DigitalVision Vectors + EdWeek
School & District Management Divisive Politics Are Harming Schools, District Leaders Say
A new survey reveals how tough the politics are for some leaders, especially in the suburbs.
8 min read
Illustration of tug of war.
Illustration by Laura Baker/Education Week, SvetaZi, and iStock/Getty
School & District Management Leading a City School District Is Tough. A New Program Aims to Ease the Way
Its creators hope to drive down big-city superintendent turnover by preparing candidates for the stresses of leadership.
3 min read
Woman standing on a paper boat with a tsunami wave approaching.
iStock/Getty Images Plus