To the Editor:
I’m writing in response to the online Commentary “ Making the Most of Federal Ed. Research,” which questioned the utility of federally funded research in the day-to-day work of educators.
As the commissioner of education in New Hampshire, I can say confidently that the regional education laboratory for our region has played an important role in boosting outcomes for students and teachers in New Hampshire’s schools. One example is the Northeast Educator Effectiveness Research Alliance convened by REL Northeast and Islands, REL-NEI, bringing our department staff and REL researchers together to conduct an implementation study of teacher evaluation in the state’s School Improvement Grant schools.
This formative evaluation is providing important feedback to us as we scale up this work to other schools. It’s also helping the participating teachers learn more about student learning. It’s real work helping real school people. Bringing the regional lab into the conversation was important. It opened up the possibility of having external partners that were invested in a scientific, evidence-based way of doing business.
For us, educator effectiveness was clearly the nucleus that was going to have the most significant impact on the change process in our state, and we committed to this process. Working with REL-NEI, we were able to establish a strong alliance of 67 stakeholders—including parents, policymakers, teachers, superintendents, principals, and state and local board members—all focused on education effectiveness.
It was a huge effort, and the regional lab’s research staff was an essential party. They pulled us all together to begin a process that helped us come up with an evaluation system that would work for everyone.
Federal education research matters. After all is said and done, the education profession needs to base its work on research that offers best practices to support our students and their future.
Virginia M. Barry
Commissioner of Education
New Hampshire Department of Education
A version of this article appeared in the June 04, 2014 edition of Education Week as New Hampshire State Schools Chief: Federally Funded Research Crucial