AERA Responds to IES RFI on Large-Scale Data

June 2022

On May 31, AERA provided comments in response to a request for information (RFI) from the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) on the “Existence and Use of Large Datasets to Address Education Research Questions.”

The RFI sought responses to questions regarding the availability of large data sets for research and training use; how researchers approach examining the quality and validity of existing data sets; perspectives on whether data sets address diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility; and best practices for creating new data sets or linking existing data sets while protecting privacy. The RFI also sought information on how IES can build the infrastructure to support the use of large-scale data in education research.

The comments, from AERA Executive Director Felice J. Levine, urged IES to partner and work with the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) in this effort, given its role in the federal statistical agency in facilitating data access and linkages, as well as protecting privacy and confidentiality. This role is even more important as the implementation of the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act continues.

“While we appreciate the overall interest that IES has in facilitating use of data from designed and non-designed data sets, we underscore that NCES should have a leadership role in examining the data quality of large-scale data sources, facilitating data linkages, and protecting the privacy and confidentiality of data,” wrote Levine.

In response to the questions in the RFI, Levine noted existing programs within IES that are building capacity for training and analysis of large data sets, and described some practices that could inform the development and linkages of data through open science practices and partnerships with trusted repositories.

This RFI aligns with ongoing planning for IES to increase investment for research and development infrastructure.