Annual Meeting Commemorates 100 Years of AERA
Annual Meeting Commemorates 100 Years of AERA

Centennial Plenary Participants
Discuss AERA's History 
April 2016

The 2016 Annual Meeting featured major events to mark AERA’s Centennial, including a special Opening Plenary Session and Gala, a Knowledge Forum series featuring Ed-Talks, the release of the first AERA Centennial publication—a special Centennial issue of Educational Researcher—and the unveiling of a video and banners highlighting the history of AERA and the field of education research embedded in its time.

Opening Plenary Session and Gala

The first evening of the Annual Meeting opened with a Centennial Plenary anchored on the theme of “Discovering Our Past, Creating Our Future.” With more than a thousand in attendance, the Plenary celebrated AERA’s 100-year milestone, highlighted the breadth and significance of education research as it has evolved around the world, and took a critical look at the current “state of the field.” After the Plenary, the celebration continued at the Centennial Gala.

The centerpiece of the Plenary was an open Forum moderated by Donna E. Shalala (Clinton Foundation). Forum participants included Patricia A. Alexander (University of Maryland, College Park), Patricia Albjerg Graham (Harvard University), Gloria J. Ladson-Billings (University of Wisconsin,  Madison), Kenneth Prewitt (Columbia University), Joseph P. Robinson-Cimpian (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), and Joy Ann Williamson-Lott (University of Washington). The format enabled incisive comments, reflections, and consideration of challenging issues that drive the field.

Shalala posed questions on such topics as accountability and measurement, forces that have shaped the field of education research, the education debt for minority students, and the impact of research on public policy. Attendees added to the plenary with an engaging town hall segment with further questions and comments that could have continued well into the evening.

In addition to the Forum, the Centennial Plenary featured many special moments, including musical performances from The Washington Youth Choir, a video highlighting AERA's first century as an association, and a letter from President Barack Obama. A birthday cake and song concluded the Gala and opening celebration.  

Knowledge Forum Ed-Talks

Substantive programming for the Centennial included five Knowledge Forum sessions designed to showcase AERA’s commitment to encouraging innovation in access to and communication of research. These sessions featured Ed-Talks presented by leading education research scholars. Each session included rapid-fire presentations focused on major education research themes and was followed by remarks from media experts and policy thought leaders and engaging audience discussion. The sessions touched on major issues in education equity, the use of research in policymaking, student learning, opportunities for disadvantaged students, and inclusive education practices.

The AERA Knowledge Forum is a year-long Centennial initiative designed to connect the science and scholarship of education research to policy and practice emphasizing the value of diverse expertise. In addition to the 18 Ed-Talks delivered at the Annual Meeting, 13 others were presented at the February Knowledge Forum, where over 30 accomplished scholars and a complementary group of national thought and policy leaders came together at an invitational conference in Washington, D.C.

Later this spring, AERA will post videos of 31 Ed-Talks as well as the research fact sheets prepared by the Knowledge Forum scholars.

Release of First Centennial Publication

The AERA Annual Meeting was an opportune time to widely distribute the first of a number of AERA journals marking the association’s Centennial.  Educational Researcher (vol. 45, no. 2) devoted a special issue, “A Living Lens: AERA Past Presidents Reflect on 100 Years of Education Research,” to a consideration of the field of education research over time. This issue, guest edited by past presidents Marilyn Cochran-Smith, Gloria Ladson Billings, and Lorraine McDonnell, included contributions of 14 AERA past presidents examining  research areas from the vantage of the presidential addresses of past presidents situated in their intellectual and social times.

Educational Researcher is an open access journal and freely available with toll-free links on the AERA website. Nevertheless, well over 1,500 copies were picked up at the AERA exhibit area by attendees seeking this commemorative issue.

Centennial Web Portal

As AERA’s Centennial year unfolds with a national lecture series in the fall and winter, additional Centennial publications, and other special initiatives, please visit the AERA Centennial web portal for the latest news and information.

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