Federal

Ed. Dept. Floats Plan for Overhaul Of ERIC Clearinghouses

By Kathleen Kennedy Manzo — April 30, 2003 | Corrected: February 23, 2019 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Corrected: The headline to this story says that a U.S. Department of Education plan would overhaul “ERIC Clearinghouses.” In fact, as the accompanying story makes clear, the plan seeks to overhaul the ERIC system overall, and could include the elimination of some or all of the 16 research clearinghouses housed primarily at universities around the country.

The Educational Resources Information Center, or ERIC, the world’s largest and most widely used educational database system, would be overhauled under a proposal released by the Department of Education this month.

Under the plan, a single contractor would administer the 37-year-old system—a strategy that could spell the end of the 16 clearinghouses devoted to specific subject areas, and lead to drastic changes in the services now available.

A draft of the Education Department’s proposal for overhauling the ERIC database is available.

The draft “statement of work,” posted on the department Web site April 10, includes a detailed description of the functions of the new centralized system, which would replace the clearinghouses housed primarily at universities around the country when those contracts expire Dec. 31.

According to the proposal, the changes are intended to make the system more efficient and cost-effective—as required under the 2002 law creating the agency’s Institute of Education Sciences—and to speed the time it takes to archive the thousands of education studies, papers, and scholarly articles that are collected by the clearinghouses each year.

“The clearinghouse structure was established in the mid-1960s, when journal articles and other information materials were only available in paper form and when microfiche was a relatively new technology,” the proposal states. Despite technological advances that make such materials more readily available, the plan maintains, “the time required to enter a document in the database has not changed significantly.”

Supporters of the existing structure acknowledge the need for improvement and say they have been working to smooth the system. But the department’s plan, they say, does not recognize the contributions of the clearinghouses in expanding customer services and bringing subject-area expertise to those collections.

“We don’t want exactly what we have now ... but we’re not sure starting from scratch is the easiest way or the best way to go about this,” said R. David Lankes, the director of the ERIC Clearinghouse on Information and Technology, based at Syracuse University.

Mr. Lankes and other advocates for ERIC say that the draft plan could allow many popular user services to be discontinued. The guidelines do not require the contractor, for example, to preserve AskERIC, which provides research services to individuals, or the ERIC Digests, the system’s popular papers on specific education topics. The online listservs developed and maintained by the clearinghouses might also be abandoned.

Ignoring Other Activities?

While the draft requires the contractor to seek advice from experts in subjects currently covered—such as social studies, assessment, or reading instruction—their participation would be limited.

“The clearinghouses have a whole host of activities not funded by the government,” said Lawrence Rudner, the director of the ERIC Clearinghouse on Assessment and Evaluation, located at the University of Maryland College Park. “There’s a whole lot of infrastructure that should not be ignored.”

But the guidelines do not necessarily prevent the main contractor from incorporating existing services, or some clearing houses, into the new structure, said Jeff C. Halsted, a contract specialist with the Education Department.

Public comments on the proposal will be accepted through May 9 via e-mail at Jeff.C.Halsted@ed.gov. The department has already received hundreds of responses, Mr. Halsted said, many expressing support for improving the current infrastructure.

After reviewing the comments, department officials will issue more definitive guidelines over the summer and sponsor a public meeting to discuss the proposal, according to Mr. Halsted.

Related Tags:

Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


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
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
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
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class
Teaching Profession Live Online Discussion What Have We Learned From Teachers During the Pandemic?
University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher Lora Bartlett and her colleagues spent months studying how the pandemic affected classroom teachers. We will discuss the takeaways from her research not only for teachers, but also for

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

Federal Feds to Probe Whether Texas Ban on School Mask Mandates Violates Disability Rights Laws
The Education Department has already opened investigations in six other states that ban universal school mask requirements.
2 min read
A staff member holds the door open for kids on the first day of school at Goodwin Frazier Elementary School in New Braunfels, Texas on Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020.
A staff member holds the door open at Goodwin Frazier Elementary School in New Braunfels, Texas in 2020. This year, Texas has prohibited school districts from requiring all students to wear masks.
Mikala Compton/Herald-Zeitung via AP
Federal New Federal Team to Work on Puerto Rico School Improvement, Oversight
The Puerto Rico Education Sustainability Team will focus on creating better learning environments and improving financial management.
3 min read
Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona visits the Emilio Delgado School in Corozal on June 30, 2021 during a visit to Puerto Rico.
Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona visits the Emilio Delgado School in Corozal on June 30, 2021 during a visit to Puerto Rico.
Teresa Canino Rivera/GDA via AP
Federal Pandemic Tests Limits of Cardona's Collaborative Approach as Education Secretary
He's sought the image of a veteran educator among former peers, but COVID has forced him to take a tough stance toward some state leaders.
10 min read
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona and Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter speak to Mia Arias, 10, during their visit to P.S. 5 Port Morris, a Bronx elementary school, Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021 in New York.
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona and Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter speak to Mia Arias, 10, during a visit to P.S. 5 Port Morris, a Bronx elementary school, last month.
Brittainy Newman/AP
Federal White House Launches Hispanic Education Initiative Led by Miguel Cardona
President Joe Biden said his administration intends to address the "systemic causes" of educational disparities faced by Hispanic students.
2 min read
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona writes down and draws positive affirmations on poster board with students during his visit to P.S. 5 Port Morris, a Bronx elementary school, Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021 in New York.
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona visits students in New York City at P.S. 5 Port Morris, a Bronx elementary school in the Bronx last month.
Brittainy Newman/AP