AERA Advocates for Education Researcher as Occupation in SOC
AERA Advocates for Education Researcher as Occupation in SOC

September 2016

AERA submitted comments on September 19 urging the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) Policy Committee to explicitly include education researcher as an occupational category. The SOC is the basic system used by the Office of Management and Budget and federal statistical agencies to classify workers into categories for the purpose of collecting, calculating, and disseminating data. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) closed the comment period for the 2018 SOC on September 20.

AERA has been concerned for some time about the absence of education researchers in the SOC. The education research profession is one of the largest in the social sciences, yet education researchers working outside of academic institutions go uncounted. AERA’s comments also recommended changes to the category of Education and Library Science Teachers, Postsecondary; AERA recommended separating Education Teachers from Library Science Teachers as well as changing the definition of Education Teachers to better reflect faculty in postsecondary settings who are engaged in education research.

“Only a very small change needs to be made to include education researcher as an occupational category,” said AERA Executive Director Felice J. Levine. “It is past time to be included as we cross the threshold into our second century.”

“This situation immediately ‘popped’ for me when I became Executive Director,” Levine further noted. “Now this BLS periodic review gives us the opportunity to press for change. The next time is 10 years away.”

The SOC shapes how employment categories are defined by other statistical agencies nationally and internationally. The 2018 revision will go into effect at the same time that the American Community Survey five-year set of surveys is fielded. Without explicit inclusion of education researchers, there is no way to measure the size of the field outside of academia, meaning that significant numbers of professionals in state and federal positions, non-profit research institutions, R&D organizations, or private sector positions including private foundations will be missing.

In addition to submitting comments, AERA sent two action alerts to the AERA membership encouraging education researchers to reinforce AERA’s comments.

The proposed revision to the 2018 SOC can be found on the SOC Web site.

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