National Academies Release Report on the Future of Education Research at IES
National Academies Release Report on the Future of Education Research at IES

March 2022

On March 31, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released “The Future of Education Research at IES: Advancing an Equity-Oriented Science.” The report stems from a study commissioned by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) to examine critical problems where new research is needed; new methods or approaches for conducting research; and new types of investments in research training.

The key report recommendations for IES include:

  • Adopt new categories for types of research that will be more responsive to the needs, structures, resources, and constraints found in educational organizations, including Discovery and Needs Assessment, Development and Adaptation,  Impact and Heterogeneity, Knowledge Mobilization, and Measurement
  • Emphasize the need for research focused on equity within existing and emerging topic areas
  • Add the following topics within the National Center for Education Research (NCER) and the National Center for Special Education Research (NCSER): civil rights policy and practice, teacher education and education workforce development, education technology and learning analytics
  • Implement a systematic, periodic, and transparent process for analyzing the state of the field and adding or removing topics as appropriate
  • Convene a new competition and review panel for supporting qualitative and mixed-methods approaches to research design and methods
  • Develop indicators of success for training, collect them from programs, and then make the information publicly available
  • Collect and publish information on the racial, ethnic, gender, disability status, disciplinary, and institutional backgrounds (including Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority-Serving Institutions) of applicants and participants in training at both the individual and institutional levels
  • Review and fund grants more quickly and re-introduce two application cycles per year.

In addition to these and other recommendations in the report, the committee also provided two enabling recommendations to help IES implement the specific recommendations:

  • NCER and NCSER should conduct a comprehensive investigation of the funding processes to identify possible inequities.
  • Congress should re-examine the IES budget. The report noted the modest budget that IES has, compared with other science agencies, and the need for adequate resources to fully implement the recommendations.

“We thank the committee for its thorough work and recommendations building on the strengths and priorities of the National Center for Education Research and the National Center for Special Education Research, especially as they relate to equity,” said AERA Executive Director Felice J. Levine. “We look forward to further examining the detailed findings and recommendations, and convening and commenting around them. AERA has long advocated for aligning resources and forward-looking ideas; we heartily support the enabling recommendation provided in the report for Congress to re-examine the IES budget in light of funding for other science agencies and what is needed for IES to fully implement the recommendations.”

During a webinar held on March 31, committee chair Adam Gamoran (William T. Grant Foundation) and committee members Nathan Jones (Boston University); Mary Murphy (Indiana University), and Elizabeth Tipton (Northwestern University) provided an overview of the report scope, findings and recommendations. AERA Director of Professional Development and Diversity Officer and George L. Wimberly served as a reviewer of the report.  Additional details on the study are available on the NASEM website.

This report is one of three commissioned by IES to examine and provide future insight on the agency’s research, assessment, and statistical activities. “A Pragmatic Future for NAEP: Containing Costs and Updating Technologies” was released on March 24. The third report, focusing on a “Vision and Roadmap for Education Statistics,” will be released April 7. All three reports will be featured in sessions during the forthcoming AERA Annual Meeting in San Diego, April 21-26.