AERA Provides Comments on Priorities for NCER Research and Development Centers
AERA Provides Comments on Priorities for NCER Research and Development Centers

March 2023

On March 6, AERA provided comments in response to a Request for Information (RFI) on future research priorities and topics for the National Education Research and Development Centers (R&D centers), of the National Center for Education Research (NCER). The R&D centers are authorized in the Education Sciences Reform Act (ESRA), the current authorization law for the Institute of Education Sciences (IES).

Under ESRA, IES is mandated to support at least eight R&D centers, each focusing on one of 11 topics in the law. The NCER RFI sought information on four questions:

  • Of the 11 topics, which three are the most pressing to invest in now, and why?
  • Within the three topics identified in response to item (1), on what priority research questions could a new R&D center focus over a 5-year project period?
  • How would the proposed research questions advance the core mission of NCER's program of research?
  • Are the identified priority research questions likely to yield any products or insights that could be readily shared and taken up by practitioners and policymakers?

The AERA comments included four general recommendations for NCER to consider in developing its request for applications for the next round of R&D centers:

  • Incorporate outcomes and topics identified by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) in the Future of Education Research at IES report, within topics solicited in the request for applications for the R&D centers.
  • Embed an equity lens, with particular attention to inclusion of both historically underserved populations and students with, or at risk of, disabilities.
  • Where appropriate, encourage R&D centers to include perspectives from both K–12 and postsecondary education.
  • Emphasize the importance of policymaker and practitioner use of R&D center outputs, aligned with increasing interest in knowledge mobilization.

“We greatly appreciate NCER’s outreach to the broader community to solicit input on priorities for potential new R&D centers,” wrote AERA Executive Director Felice J. Levine. “Previous R&D centers have been instrumental in advancing the use of longitudinal data to understand the long-term effects of education policy and practice, developing evidence-based guidance and resources for the instruction of multilingual learners, and addressing the particular opportunities and challenges that rural schools and districts face.”

The RFI and comments are intended to inform the next request for applications for the R&D centers. The congressional justification for the IES FY 2024 budget request indicated that NCER is planning to launch a grant competition for the R&D centers during FY 2024.