Commemorating 20 Years of IES: Danielle McNamara
Commemorating 20 Years of IES: Danielle McNamara

Commemorating 20 Years of IES
Danielle McNamara, Arizona State University

Danielle McNamaraI am very happy to commemorate the 20-year anniversary of the Institute of Education Sciences, and to extend my sincere gratitude to the institute for all that they have done to support my teams' work for the past 20 years. My first grant with IES was funded just a few months before OERI was formally reorganized into IES by Russ Whitehurst. I have fond memories of our small grantee meetings led by Liz Albro who was just then beginning her illustrious career at IES. I've been honored with continuous funding from IES for the past 20 years, and only missed a few grantee meetings. So I've had the pleasure of watching IES meetings grow from small convenings of fewer than 20 grantees to the large conferences we enjoy today with hundreds of scholars seeking to understand and improve education in the U.S. There were many years when the annual IES meeting was considered the best conference of the year.  My career just simply would not have been possible without the support of IES, and most importantly, the continued engagement with IES project officers and other grantees and scholars who attended the IES meeting. 

My first IES project in 2002 funded the development of Coh-Metrix, the first tool to provide automated language analysis of reading text difficulty for researchers and educators. My second project, in 2004, provided funding for continued development of iSTART, the Interactive Strategy Trainer for Active Reading and Thinking, the first tutoring system to provide adaptive reading comprehension strategy feedback that incorporates natural language processing. In turn, in 2008, Writing Pal was funded as the first game-based intelligent tutoring system with instruction, practice, and automated essay evaluation. IES has taken the chance on many firsts, particularly in the technology realm.

Most recently, IES has recognized the need to support Digital Learning Platforms to open up their technologies and data to researchers, and to facilitate connections between academic and industrial partners. We must break down these silos and work together to provide high quality, adaptive educational opportunities to all learners. ASU joined this endeavor to develop the Learning@Scale Digital Learning Platform that connects the vast array of student data at ASU, and provides the means for researchers to conduct empirical studies within the ASU learning ecosystem.  This project was provided funding because IES recognizes the timely need to break down barriers, and reimagine how we approach educational research in the modern world. 

In closing, I am grateful to the leaders of IES, their incredibly dedicated program officers, and to all of the tireless scholars who have served on IES panels. I look forward to the next 20 years, where we can expect IES to continue their support for cutting-edge educational innovations and blaze new trails for educational research in the 21st Century.