Federal

Fed’s Education Research Board Is Back. Here’s Why That Matters

By Sarah D. Sparks — November 02, 2022 | Corrected: November 09, 2022 2 min read
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Corrected: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated when the Institute of Education Sciences last had officially approved research priorities. It was 2010.

Nearly six years after its last meeting, a national board that helps guide federally funded education research is poised to become active again.

President Biden last week appointed 14 new members to the National Board for Education Sciences, which advises the Education Department’s research agency. The newly reconstituted board returns to an Institute of Education Sciences that is strapped for cash and under pressure to help educators and policymakers make sense of how the pandemic has shifted education, as the field grapples with historically large drops in math and reading performance, rising student mental health needs, evaporating teacher labor pools, and evolving technology use in the classroom, among others.

The new board includes education researchers, city and business leaders, and educators from across the country.

“It is great to see a board constituted with such breadth of substantive and methodological research expertise and attention to the range of diversities that are mission critical to the work of IES, including attention to minoritized populations, disabilities, and immigrant communities,” said Felice Levine, the executive director of the American Educational Research Association.

Congress created NBES to approve research priorities for the Institute of Education Sciences and advise the agency, but NBES has not held a meeting since November 2016. Existing members’ six-year terms expired without replacements by then-incoming President Trump, and the board could no longer command a quorum.

Levine said she was pleased the board would be in place “at such a vital time and after such a long hiatus to support and advise IES as it moves forward with its next generation of work.”

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Earlier this spring, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released a report calling for major structural and topic changes to IES’ research, as well as increasing the agency’s supports for diverse researchers and overhauling peer review to ensure more equitable representation.

Mark Schneider, the director of the Institute of Education Sciences, said the board’s first order of business will be approving research priorities for IES. The priorities have not been officially updated since 2010; proposed priorities went out for pubic comment in 2018, but there NBES was not available to vote to approve them.

“Obviously the pandemic has changed things. It’s a different administration, different priorities. The nation has changed. The [National Assessment of Educational Progress] scores [which declined in 2022 in reading and math] are scary,” Schneider said. “So the question is, what advice do they (NBES members) have with regard to taking limited funds and, you know, how do we deploy them most effectively?”

The appointed board members do not need Congressional approval, but they still have to go through ethics training and a clearance process to ensure they have no conflicts of interest, so Schneider expects the new board will not meet before the new year.

New Members of the National Board of Education Sciences

  • S. James Anaya, an international law professor at the University of Colorado Law School, who focuses on international human rights and indigenous peoples;
  • Linda Darling-Hammond, education professor emeritus at Stanford University and president of the Learning Policy Institute;
  • Douglas Fuchs, an institute fellow at the American Institutes for Research and research professor of special education and psychology and human development at Vanderbilt University;
  • Denisa Gándara, an assistant professor of educational leadership and policy at the University of Texas at Austin;
  • Elmer Guy, Sr., president of Navajo Technical University;
  • Shaun Harper, provost professor of education and business and chair in urban leadership at the University of Southern California, as well as founder and executive director of the USC Race and Equity Center;
  • María de la Concepción Hernández Legorreta, a specialist overseeing the education of blind and low-vision students through the Maryland department of education and the Maryland School for the Blind;
  • Dana Hilliard, mayor of Hilltop City, N.H., and former high school teacher and principal;
  • Dr. Stephen Klasko, medical doctor and executive in residence with General Catalyst, which advocates for transformation in higher education and health care;
  • Carol Lee, education and social policy professor emerita at Northwestern University, and the president of the National Academy of Education;
  • Ruth López Turley, Rice University sociology professor and director of the Kinder Institute for Urban Research;
  • Derrick Cornelius Scott, the dean of the College of Natural and Health Sciences at Virginia State University;
  • Caroline Sullivan, the executive director of the North Carolina Business Committee for Education, an education nonprofit in the N.C. governor’s office, and;
  • Hirokazu Yoshikawa, a professor of globalization and education at New York University

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