Annual Meeting Research and Science Policy Forum Includes Conversations with Federal Agency Leaders and Discussion of Pressing Issues
Annual Meeting Research and Science Policy Forum Includes Conversations with Federal Agency Leaders and Discussion of Pressing Issues

May 2023

The 2023 AERA Annual Meeting featured 11 invited sessions in the Research and Science Policy Forum that included conversations with leaders of federal education research agencies and discussion on emerging education research issues and priorities. The forum engages meeting attendees in important issues at the intersection of education research and science policy.

Conversations with Federal Education Research Agency Leaders

The series featured two sessions, with remarks and conversations, for leaders of two federal agencies that support education research and data infrastructure, the National Science Foundation (NSF) STEM Education (EDU) Directorate and the Institute of Education Sciences (IES).

James L. Moore III and Deborah Loewenberg Ball

EDU Assistant Director James L. Moore III discussed his vision and priorities in a conversation with Deborah Loewenberg Ball (University of Michigan), who is a current member of the National Science Board. Moore noted the need for expertise focused on artificial intelligence (AI) and technology as a driver for innovation. Moore noted that while technology and AI are seen as futuristic, the need is here today. He added that programs should be low cost, require low broadband, and include evidence-based professional development.

IES Director Mark Schneider discussed his priorities for the agency’s work in a conversation with Carol Lee (Northwestern University), who is one of the incoming members of the National Board for Education Sciences (NBES). Schneider detailed his vision for the final year of his term, including increasing investments in AI; broadening participation; and big data initiatives that would involve the use of prizes, modernization of the Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems, and considerations of how to best balance the costs and benefits of privacy and disclosure risks.

Mark Schneider and Carol Lee

Funding Opportunities

Two sessions provided the opportunity to learn about federal funding opportunities in agencies that support education research. One session offered AERA attendees the opportunity to connect with 12 program officers from the NSF EDU Directorate. Evan Heit, division director for the EDU Division of Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings, provided opening remarks. A second session offered helpful tips and information about broad funding opportunities in IES, NSF, and the National Institutes of Health. Speakers included Erin Higgins from IES, Heit from NSF, and Jim Griffin from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

An additional session highlighted research funding and fellowship opportunities for graduate students and early career scholars, featuring an overview of AERA opportunities from George L. Wimberly, AERA director of professional development. Additional speakers provided details on programs at the Spencer Foundation, the National Academy of Education, the William T. Grant Foundation, and the Foundation for Child Development.

Sessions Focusing on Future Research Directions

One session highlighted initial steps for the revision of the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing (most recent edition, 2014). Another focused on the state of gender and racial equity in educational measurement, providing findings from a survey of members conducted by AERA, the National Council on Measurement in Education, and Women in Measurement. The survey covered key indicators such as social identity; employment position; educational training; professional experiences; salary; and perceptions of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

A third session, chaired by Shirley Malcom (American Association for the Advancement of Science), focused on findings, recommendations, and areas for consideration from a recent report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM), Advancing Antiracism, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in STEM Organizations: Beyond Broadening Participation. After a summary of the report and recommendations provided by Julie Posselt (University of Southern California) and Layne Scherer (NASEM), Stella Flores (University of Texas at Austin) and John Diamond (Brown University) detailed the challenges and opportunities in applying these recommendations in education institutions.

In anticipation of the forthcoming Supreme Court decisions in Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President and Fellows of Harvard College and Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. University of North Carolina, AERA Executive Director Felice J. Levine chaired a session titled “Will the Supreme Court Resegregate Our Colleges? Amid Troubled Waters, Can Research Show the Way?” This session included a discussion of the historical context by James Anderson (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign). Several contributors to amicus briefs that were filed in support of the university arguments in these cases detailed the key evidence-based findings. They included Angelo Ancheta, author of the AERA amicus brief; OiYan Poon (Spencer Foundation); Liliana Garces (University of Texas at Austin); and Uma Jayakumar (University of California–Riverside). As part of the conversation, Gary Orfield (University of California, Los Angeles) raised issues for consideration by the education research community in anticipation of the decision and its impact on higher education admissions and even on the K–12 education system.

Global Perspectives on Research and Science Policy

The AERA Research and Science Policy Forum featured two sessions that highlighted global perspectives. The first, “U.S. and Worldwide Perspectives on COVID,” included conversations with Peggy Carr, commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics; Stéphan Vincent-Lancrin, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development; and Fernando Reimers, Harvard University. This session highlighted U.S. and international data collection within countries and provided a comparative perspective to the overall international response to and impact of COVID-19 in education.

The second session highlighted emerging open science issues in sharing journal publication-related data in multilingual and multiple global perspectives. Panelists discussed the role of repositories in open science; legal and ethical concerns; equivalences and complexities; and methods for fostering equity to encourage access, sharing, and use of data across multiple languages.

The full schedule of sessions in the Research and Science Policy Forum includes session participants and the scope of sessions.