House Education Hearing Focuses on Strengthening IES
House Education Hearing Focuses on Strengthening IES

September 2013

The House Education and the Workforce Committee held a hearing on September 10, “Education Research: Exploring Opportunities to Strengthen the Institute of Education Sciences” (IES), as a first step in reauthorizing the law governing the federal education research agency. The Education Sciences Reform Act (ESRA) is five years overdue for reauthorization. 

In general, the statements from committee members and witnesses were aligned to the recommendations that AERA developed for reauthorizing ESRA. These recommendations encompass six key areas of attention, including three emphasized at the hearing: increased flexibility for the IES director, adequate resource support for research within IES, and knowledge utilization.

Committee Chairman John Kline (R-Minn.) noted in his opening statement that the committee should ensure that IES has the flexibility necessary to modernize research methods and should protect IES’s independence in considering ESRA.

Ranking member George Miller (D-Calif.) stated in his testimony that the development of IES has encouraged more robust and sound education research and increased the availability of data to measure the effectiveness of education programs. He added that the budget for IES is small, both in comparison to that for other research fields and as a component of education funding and supported sufficient funding of IES.

George Scott of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) presented preliminary findings from a GAO study of IES’s research and evaluation efforts as part of his testimony. He stated that while IES has had an impact in improving the quality of education research, stakeholders had concerns regarding the timeliness and relevance of the research to their needs.

Scott also testified that IES did not have procedures in place to incorporate stakeholder input into its research agenda or to assess the relevance and dissemination of research from the Regional Educational Laboratories and Research and Development Centers.

In an interview with Politico—as well as in a recent AERA video interview—IES Director John Easton emphasized the agency’s recent efforts to increase the usefulness and timeliness of the research it supports.

In addition to Scott, committee members heard testimony from Bridget Terry Long, associate dean at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and member of the National Board for Education Sciences; James Kemple, executive director of the Research Alliance for New York City Schools at New York University; and Kathy Christie, vice president for knowledge/information management and dissemination for the Education Commission of the States.

Legislation to reauthorize IES may be considered by the House committee later this fall. The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee has not yet taken action on ESRA.

A webcast of the hearing is available on the Education and the Workforce Committee’s website

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