NASEM Committees Begin Consideration of Future Vision for IES Programs

May 2021

During the week of May 10, three committees under the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) began their work on examining programs in the Institute of Education Sciences (IES). The committees are charged with providing recommendations to IES for the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) and for research programs in the National Center for Education Research (NCER), the National Center for Special Education Research (NCSER), and the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).

On May 10, the committee for A Vision and Roadmap for Education Statistics in 2030 and Beyond held its first open meeting. Committee members heard from IES Director Mark Schneider and NCES Commissioner James “Lynn” Woodworth on the scope of the committee’s work and on several of the current challenges and opportunities NCES is facing. Schneider detailed three areas where he is seeking feedback: future statistical needs for the nation and how to best collect those data; ways to best disseminate data; and how to best allocate staff, with the caveat that while NCES is in need of additional staff, there are constraints on bringing in new hires. Woodworth noted additional areas for the committee to consider, including facilitating data linkages and protecting privacy while still allowing for data disaggregation. The committee also met on May 26, hearing an introduction of NCES from Woodworth, along with panelists who provided insight on how NCES achieves its mission, the uses of NCES data by stakeholders, and the administrative and survey programs at NCES.

On May 13, the committee for The Future of Education Research at IES held its first open meeting. Schneider presented topics for the committee to consider, including what he referred to as the “grid structure” for topics and goals under the annual request for applications (RFA). Within this topic, he asked the committee to consider the balance between basic and applied research, how to encourage replication, and scale-up and commercialization of education research. He also sought input into supporting innovation through potential updates to the peer review process, off-cycle competitions, and further incorporation of the Standards for Excellence in Education Research (SEER) principles.

Anne Ricciuti, deputy director for science at IES, provided committee members an overview of the role of the Standards and Review Office (SRO) and the cycle of the grants process. She also discussed the agency’s strategies for reviews, the makeup of peer review panels, and challenges and opportunities that SRO is facing. An additional panel of IES program officers—Jacquelyn Buckley, Erin Higgins, Allen Ruby, and Katherine Taylor—presented perspectives on their roles. They highlighted a typical “year life cycle” of a program officer, roles and responsibilities, and how they work to help address needs in the field.

Also on May 13, the committee for Opportunities for the National Assessment of Educational Progress in an Age of AI and Pervasive Computation met. The committee heard from Schneider on the study goals and from William Tirre, NCES program director for assessments.

“We are pleased to see the launch of these committees and look forward to their expertise in providing recommendations to IES to meet the challenges and opportunities for education research, statistics, and assessment,” said AERA Executive Director Felice J. Levine.

The committees will continue working to meet NASEM’s goal of releasing reports with findings and recommendations to coincide with the 20th anniversary of IES in 2022.

Related story:

National Academies to Conduct Three Studies on IES,” AERA Highlights, April 2021