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:


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.
Reading & Literacy Webinar
Your Questions on the Science of Reading, Answered
Dive into the Science of Reading with K-12 leaders. Discover strategies, policy insights, and more in our webinar.
Content provided by Otus
Mathematics Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table: Breaking the Cycle: How Districts are Turning around Dismal Math Scores
Math myth: Students just aren't good at it? Join us & learn how districts are boosting math scores.
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.
Student Achievement Webinar
How To Tackle The Biggest Hurdles To Effective Tutoring
Learn how districts overcome the three biggest challenges to implementing high-impact tutoring with fidelity: time, talent, and funding.
Content provided by Saga Education

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 Electric School Buses Get a Boost From New State and Federal Policies
New federal standards for emissions could accelerate the push to produce buses that run on clean energy.
3 min read
Stockton Unified School District's new electric bus fleet reduces over 120,000 pounds of carbon emissions and leverages The Mobility House's smart charging and energy management system.
A new rule from the Environmental Protection Agency sets higher fuel efficiency standards for heavy-duty vehicles. By 2032, it projects, 40 percent of new medium heavy-duty vehicles, including school buses, will be electric.
Business Wire via AP
Federal What Would Happen to K-12 in a 2nd Trump Term? A Detailed Policy Agenda Offers Clues
A conservative policy agenda could offer the clearest view yet of K-12 education in a second Trump term.
8 min read
Republican presidential candidate and former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally, March 9, 2024, in Rome Ga.
Former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally, March 9, 2024, in Rome, Ga. Allies of the former president have assembled a detailed policy agenda for every corner of the federal government with the idea that it would be ready for a conservative president to use at the start of a new term next year.
Mike Stewart/AP
Federal Opinion Student Literacy Rates Are Concerning. How Can We Turn This Around?
The ranking Republican senator on the education committee wants to hear from educators and families about making improvements.
6 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Federal Biden Calls for Teacher Pay Raises, Expanded Pre-K in State of the Union
President Joe Biden highlighted a number of his education priorities in a high-stakes speech as he seeks a second term.
5 min read
President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress at the Capitol on March 7, 2024, in Washington.
President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress at the Capitol on March 7, 2024, in Washington.
Shawn Thew/Pool via AP