Research and Science Policy Forum Features Federal Agency Leaders, Recent NASEM Reports
Research and Science Policy Forum Features Federal Agency Leaders, Recent NASEM Reports

May 2022

The 2022 AERA Annual Meeting featured 14 invited sessions in a Research and Science Policy Forum that included conversations with leaders of federal education research agencies and discussion on research directions in recent reports from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM). The forum engages meeting attendees in important issues at the intersection of education research and science policy.

From left to right: Sethuraman Panchanathan (pictured on screen), Felice J. Levine, and Okhee Lee

Headlining the sessions was a fireside chat with Sethuraman Panchanathan, director of the National Science Foundation (NSF), and Alondra Nelson, deputy director for science and society and performing the duties of director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). The moderated conversation focused on the administration efforts to advance equity, particularly in STEM education and developing the STEM workforce. Nelson discussed actions that the Biden administration has taken to make equity a central focus and to advance scientific integrity. Panchanathan highlighted several NSF initiatives to build a more inclusive STEM pipeline, including encouraging partnerships between research-intensive and emerging research institutions and launching a virtual research office to support NSF grant applicants at institutions that lack capacity.

From left to right: Felice J. Levine, Okhee Lee, and Alondra Nelson (pictured on screen)

Nelson put out a call to action to the education research community to be engaged with government officials and to reach out to colleagues in federal agencies, particularly during the “year of evidence.” She encouraged AERA attendees to write op-eds and conduct meta-analyses that synthesize research findings. Panchanathan echoed this call to provide feedback to NSF as it informs the agency’s work. He provided the example of the Racial Equity in STEM Education grant opportunity, which was developed based on input from the field.

AERA Executive Director Felice J. Levine and 2019-22 AERA Council At-Large Member Okhee Lee moderated the conversation.

Priorities and Funding Opportunities at Federal Agencies

Mark Schneider

The forum also provided the opportunity for AERA attendees to hear from Mark Schneider, director of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES). He highlighted his priorities around supporting research and development infrastructure and around attention to digital learning platforms to push the field forward on machine learning, artificial intelligence, and learning analytics. He also noted scaling up research more quickly and the development of teams to ramp up dissemination efforts. 

Two sessions provided the opportunity to learn about federal funding opportunities within agencies that support education research. One session offered AERA attendees the opportunity to talk with program officers from the NSF Education and Human Resources Directorate. A second session offered the opportunity to hear helpful tips and broad funding opportunities within IES, NSF, and the National Institutes of Health.

National Academies Reports on IES Activities

Panelists at the session “The Future of Education Research at IES – A Report from the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine"

Four sessions in the series highlighted the findings and recommendations from three reports from NASEM on IES research, assessment, and statistical activities. Two sessions included conversation on The Future of Education Research at IES, with the first being a set of discussion groups and the second featuring comments from Schneider, National Center for Special Education Research Commissioner Joan McLaughlin, and National Center for Education Research Commissioner Elizabeth Albro.



ASL Interpreter (top left) and Peggy Carr pictured on screen



A session highlighting the recommendations from the report A Pragmatic Future for NAEP included comments from Lesley Muldoon, executive director of the National Assessment Governing Board, and Peggy Carr, commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics. Carr also provided comments in a separate session on the recommendations in A Vision and Roadmap for Education Statistics.

Sessions Focusing on Future Research Directions

Within the forum, two sessions were held related to the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing, with one focusing on consideration of fairness and one on assessment operations. Outside of the IES reports, a session also featured the NASEM report on Science and Engineering in Preschool and Elementary Grades.

Representatives from NCES also discussed work in developing an alternate measurement of poverty as part of grants in the NCES State Longitudinal Data System program. Shane Hedari from the Hawai’i Department of Education and Carl Frederick from Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction detailed preliminary findings in testing the alternate measurement, next steps, and particular challenges that they faced regarding data availability.

Panelists at "Science and Engineering in Preschool Through Elementary Grades: The Brilliance of Children and the Strengths of Educators – A Report of the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine" Panelists at "Initial Efforts and Early Thoughts From Exploring Current and Potential Poverty Metrics Using the National Center for Education Statistics Spatially Interpolated Demographic Estimates Project"


The full schedule of sessions in the Research and Science Policy Forum includes session participants and the scope of sessions. Many of these sessions were livestreamed and recorded and will be available on the online platform and app until April 2023.