Blog Archives

National Academies Holds Meetings on the Future of Education Research at IES

On July 7 and 8, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) convened the second and third meetings of the panel on the Future of Education Research at the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) in the U.S. Department of Education (see previous COSSA coverage for more background). While much of these meetings consisted of closed-door sessions, there were three open, public sessions discussing a variety of topics related to the methods and measures used in education research, on the impact of investments in education research, and on training and retaining future talent in the education research enterprise.

The first open session on Methods and Measures in Education Research discussed the infrastructure of IES and the methods it uses to support research. Discussion from the panelists covered how research methods and assessment in education research at IES may change, including the increased importance of data science, a heightened emphasis on diversity and equity in education science, and an acknowledgement of the challenges of IES’ grant cycles being infrequent, lengthy, and lacking in interdisciplinarity. There was also a discussion about interdisciplinary science and the “need to also make space for innovative proposals that don’t neatly fit into one of the existing goals.”

The second open session on Understanding and Assessing Impact of Education Research Investments, which included panel discussions about the role of education research in impacting public policy, practice in the classroom, and the expected timeline of impact of research investments, led to a focus on investment in education research to change the research enterprise and research policy for the better. Equity in education also came up as a major priority and how to measure the impact of research on equity and improve diversity and inclusion in education and research environments.

The third open session on Training and Retaining the Next Generation of Education Researchers focused on building strong career pathways for training professionals in areas of education research, including fostering research on career development in these research areas. Panelists also noted potential barriers for young people to enter professions in education research and the importance of increasing diversity in the education research workforce.

More information about the panels is available on the NASEM website.

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Posted in Issue 15 (July 20), Update, Volume 40 (2021)

Department of Education Solicits Comments on New School Pulse Survey

The Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) has requested emergency Office of Management and Budget (OMB) clearance to conduct a School Pulse Survey that will produce information on how schools, students, and educators are responding in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The survey, which COSSA and other stakeholders have advocated for, is intended to comply with President Biden’s day-one executive order on school reopening, which requires the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), NCES’s home agency, to facilitate “the collection of data necessary to fully understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on students and educators, including data on the status of in-person learning.” NCES began collecting this information using the existing sample for the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) 2021 School Survey, but now proposes to continue the effort as a standalone activity. This will allow NCES to continue to collect information on topics such as instructional mode offered; enrollment counts of subgroups of students using various instructional modes; learning loss mitigation strategies; safe and healthy school mitigation strategies; special education services; use of technology; use of federal relief funds; and information on staffing.

Because this data is considered both time-sensitive and high-priority, IES is seeking an abbreviated emergency clearance process before beginning preliminary activities. However, the public has until July 12 to comment on the proposal. More information is available in the Federal Register notice. NCES will also release an additional request for public comment concurrent with data collection for the survey.

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Posted in Issue 13 (June 22), Update, Volume 40 (2021)

National Academies Convenes Activities Exploring the Future of Education Research and Statistics

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) has launched several activities in partnership with the Department of Education to identify areas for growth in the fields of education research and education statistics in the federal government, especially programs within the Department’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES). On May 10, the National Academies panel on A Vision and Roadmap for Education Statistics in 2030 and Beyond held its first public meeting to develop a plan for modernizing education statistics at IES’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) by the year 2030. The panel will produce a report that prioritizes areas and activities for NCES to pursue for the remainder of the decade and outlines a vision for what the agency should should aspire to be and how it should operate.

Another NASEM panel, Opportunities for the National Assessment of Educational Progress in an Age of AI and Pervasive Computation: A Pragmatic Vision for 2030 and Beyond, will be hold its first meetings on May 13-14 to discuss the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), a Congressionally-mandated assessment administered by NCES for grade-school children in core subjects. The panel will aim to identify innovations for the assessment, especially to incorporate digital technology and reduce the costs of administering the assessment over the next ten years. The panel will produce a short, accessible report that makes recommendations for potential changes to NAEP.

A third NASEM panel on The Future of Education Research at the Institute of Education Sciences in the U.S. Department of Education, will convene to provide recommendations to IES on potential improvements to be made for research within IES’s National Center for Education Research (NCER) and National Center for Special Education Research (NCSER). Topics the panel will address include potential gaps in research areas, best practices for organizing application requests for research, new research methods that should be encouraged, and new investments for research training that may benefit the institute. Although the panel’s meetings dates have yet to be publicly announced, the committee will publish a report making conclusions and recommendations for IES.

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Posted in Issue 10 (May 11), Update, Volume 40 (2021)

Biden Signs American Rescue Plan, with Funding for NSF, IES, Universities

On March 11, President Biden signed into law the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (H.R. 1319). As previously reported, the $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill includes $600 million in funding to support research related to the pandemic at the National Science Foundation (NSF) and $100 million to support research related to K-12 learning loss at the Institute of Education Sciences (IES). The bill also includes $39.9 billion in funding to support colleges and universities. Now that this major piece of legislation has been enacted, lawmakers’ attention will turn to appropriations for the coming fiscal year. In addition, discussions will begin for another aid bill targeted for later in the spring that will be more broadly focused on recovery and infrastructure.

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Posted in Issue 6 (March 16), Update, Volume 40 (2021)

House Passes Funding for NSF, Higher Ed, and IES in $1.9 trillion COVID-19 Relief Bill

The House of Representatives passed a massive relief bill on February 27 that aims to bring financial support to those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act (H.R. 1319, committee report) includes direct payments to individuals, expansion of unemployment assistance, and an increase to the national minimum wage, among many other provisions. It also includes several notable provisions of interest to the science community, including $39.9 billion in funding for colleges and universities, with half to be used for student aid, as laid out in the CARES Act (see COSSA’s previous coverage). The bill also includes $100 million for the Institute of Education Sciences for research related to addressing learning loss caused by the coronavirus among K-12 students.

In addition, the National Science Foundation would receive $600 million “to fund or extend new and existing research grants, cooperative agreements, scholarships, fellowships, and apprenticeships, and related administrative expenses to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus.” While not included in the original bill text, this funding was added as part of the manager’s amendment that was passed on the House floor. This funding, if enacted, could only be used for research about the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill does not provide any any relief for scientists whose research on other topics has been disrupted. The bipartisan RISE Act (see previous coverage), should it become law, would provide NSF with $3 billion to support non-COVID-related research impacted by the pandemic.

Senate leadership is now working on its own version of the legislation, which is expected to be voted on the coming days. While some of the larger provisions may change, such as the minimum wage increase, the research and higher education relief funding discussed above is expected to be maintained in the Senate bill. COSSA will continue to report on the progress of this legislation as it nears passage.

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Posted in Issue 5 (March 2), Update, Volume 40 (2021)

IES Announces Changes, Requests Applications for Several of its Largest Grant Programs

On May 27, Mark Schneider, the Director of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) within the Department of Education, issued an announcement of new Requests for Applications (RFA) for several of the Institute’s largest grant programs for fiscal year (FY) 2021 as well as updates to some of the Institute’s programs. The Requests for Applications are mainly in the Education Research and Training Grant Programs and in Special Education Research and Training Grant Programs. A full list of the RFAs are available on the IES website.

Some of the programmatic changes mentioned in the announcement include higher funding limits to meet growing demands for dissemination and the reorganization of the programs at the National Center for Special Education Research (NCSER) into fewer, broader program topics. According to the announcement, the changes were guided by the Institute’s Standards for Excellence in Education Research (SEER). Director Schneider’s announcement and more information are available on the IES website.

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Posted in Issue 12 (June 9), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

IES Director Seeks Input on Topic Areas, Announces Possible Request for Applications

Mark Schneider, the Director of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), the research, evaluation, and statistical agency of the U.S. Department of Education, announced in a blog post on August 13 that he is considering three new topic-specific requests for applications (RFAs) and seeking comment on the topics around which IES research is structured.

The three proposed off-cycle RFAs are “using state longitudinal data systems to measure long-term outcomes,” “using NAEP [National Assessment of Educational Progress] process data,” and “systematic evaluation of widely used math and reading programs.” The blog post includes more details about the proposed RFAs and a request that the community provide input into whether they are worthwhile and whether the challenges that come with these large questions are surmountable.

Additionally, Schneider is seeking input on the 13 topic areas within the National Center for Education Research (NCER) and the 12 topic areas within the National Center for Special Education Research. In particular, he is interested in whether any of the topic areas are no longer necessary to be funded, and if any other topic areas are missing from the two centers.

Input should be sent directly to the IES director at Mark.Schneider@ed.gov. The blog post can be read on the IES website.

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Posted in Issue 17 (September 3), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

COSSA Submits Testimony to Senate in Support of Funding for NIH, CDC, ED, BLS

As it does each year, COSSA submitted outside witness testimony to the Congressional Appropriations subcommittees responsible for funding federal agencies important to the social sciences. On June 3, COSSA submitted testimony to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies calling for increased fiscal year (FY) 2020 funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Institute for Education Sciences (IES), and International Education and Foreign Language Programs (Title VI and Fulbright-Hays).

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Posted in Issue 12 (June 11), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

IES Requests Comment on Proposed Priorities

The Institute of Education Sciences (IES), the statistics, research, and evaluation arm of the Department of Education, has released a request for comment on proposed priorities for IES. The Federal Register Notice explains that the request is part of the process required by the agency’s authorizing legislation to receive public comment on priorities the Director of IES recommends to the National Board for Education Sciences.

Proposed priorities fall into two categories: A Focus on Outcomes and Increasing Dissemination and Use. The Outcomes priority includes specific outcomes at the preschool, K-12, and postsecondary levels of education. The Dissemination and Use priority includes a renewed focus on enhancing the experience of What Works Clearinghouse users, increasing outreach to teachers, and investing in postsecondary programs that support education researchers.

Comments will close on May 28, 2019. More information can be found in the Federal Register.

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Posted in Issue 7 (April 2), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

Trump Signs Labor-HHS Bill/CR, Pushing Remaining FY19 Spending to Dec 7

On September 28, President Trump signed into law a fiscal year (FY) 2019 funding package containing two of twelve appropriations bills, the Defense Appropriations bill and the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education Appropriations bill. The bill had been passed earlier in the week by the House of Representatives. Of particular interest to the social science community, the Labor-HHS bill contains next year’s final appropriation for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Department of Education (ED), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), and Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), among other federal departments and agencies. The passage of the Labor-HHS bill marks the first time in more than 20 years that this bill, which tends to be one of the most divisive among Republicans and Democrats, will be signed into law on time.

The package also includes a continuing resolution (CR) that will keep the rest of the government operating until December 7 (the new fiscal year begins next week on October 1). Congress will return after the November midterm elections and attempt to complete its work on next year’s spending bills. Notably, still pending is the Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Appropriations bill, which is responsible for funding the National Science Foundation and the Census Bureau, among other programs; neither the House or Senate have taken up the bill outside of committee.

Read on for COSSA’s analysis of the final FY 2019 funding levels for the National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Bureau of Labor Statistics, and Department of Education.

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Posted in Issue 19 (October 2), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

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