AERA Comments on IES Research Centers’ Advances and Priorities
November 2014

AERA has submitted comments to the Institute of Education Sciences’ National Center for Education Research (NCER) and National Center for Special Education Research (NCSER), in response to a call for feedback on the centers’ priorities and on areas for new research.

NCER Commissioner Thomas Brock and NCSER Commissioner Joan McLaughlin sought comments on three topics: the characteristics of research funded by the two agencies over the past 10 years; the critical problems and issues on which new research is needed; and how the agencies could target their funds.

“We concur heartily with your observation that you can be proud of the accomplishments of both Centers,” AERA Executive Director Felice J. Levine wrote in the October 31 letter. “A scan of the award lists and of the AERA highly ranked, peer-reviewed journals underscores the significance of the research and the payoffs from IES investments.”

AERA noted several characteristics of NCER- and NCSER-funded research that have advanced the field, including funding intervention research, using longitudinal data sets, and employing a variety of research methods to improve the rigor of research.

AERA also provided several recommendations for how NCER and NCSER could enhance future research projects, given their limited allocations of funding:

  • Develop a mechanism for funding interdisciplinary and cross-cutting projects.

  • Encourage grantees to use existing data sets, including from the National Center for Education Statistics and other federal statistical agencies, federally funded longitudinal data, and state longitudinal data systems.

  • Require sharing for new data collection or enhanced data collection with extant data.

  • Apply findings from the recently funded National Center for Research in Policy and Practice to future grantees to foster use and dissemination of NCER and NCSER work.

The centers plan to use the feedback to help make improvements in existing programs and plan research competitions.

“Looking forward, we want to make sure we do all we can to ensure that NCER- and NCSER-funded studies meet high scientific standards and contribute to meaningful improvements in students’ school readiness and academic outcomes,” wrote Brock and McLaughlin. 

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