Reaping the Rewards of the IES Reading for Understanding (RFU) Initiative

The Institute of Education Sciences (IES) recently awarded the NAEd a three-year grant to develop insights and implications concerning the RFU initiative. The purpose of this project is to follow through on the promise of the RFU to make sure that what has been learned from this large-scale federal research investment continues to benefit education research and practice. The goals of the project include: (1) articulate findings and common themes across the RFU projects to contribute to a full-range view of reading development; (2) identify obstacles to on-time reading achievement as well as factors supporting success; (3) examine cross-project findings to identify areas of agreement and productive tension; and (4) find common principles underlying instructional programs. The committee will produce a report upon completion of its work, which based on proceedings of the committee meetings and commissioned papers, will provide a foundation for subsequent publications highlighting usable findings.

On February 22-24, 2017, the NAEd organized the first of three steering committee meetings for this initiative, during which committee members: (a) shared individual project updates and synthesis work completed to date; (b) discussed and identified themes that cut across RFU projects; (c) developed a framework for the summary report and associated commissioned papers/other products (as well as the end-users who would benefit from these materials); and (d) identified potential commissioned paper topics and authors. The steering committee is co-chaired by P. David Pearson and Annemarie Sullivan Palincsar, and is comprised of the following representatives from each RFU project: Susan Goldman (University of Illinois at Chicago), Laura Justice (The Ohio State University), Christopher Lonigan (The Florida State University), John Sabatini (Educational Testing Service (ETS)), Catherine Snow (Strategic Education Research Partnership (SERP)) and Sharon Vaughn (The University of Texas at Austin). The committee also includes Donald Compton (The Florida State University), who prior to joining FSU collaborated with David Pearson to promote cross-project examination, as well as NAEd members Kenji Hakuta and Glynda Hull.


Workshop on Big Data in Education: Balancing Research Needs and Student Privacy

The final summary report and associated proceedings from the Workshop on Big Data in Education: Balancing the Benefits of Educational Research and Student Privacy are in the final stages of completion and will be released in May. The workshop report, panel summaries, video-cast, and other workshop proceedings will be housed on the NAEd project website (, and will also be broadly disseminated to education technology researchers, publishers, developers, policymakers, and other relevant stakeholder groups.

Funded by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, the NAEd held a two-day workshop in August that addressed the fundamental tension faced by the education research community: how to balance the benefits of access to comprehensive (“big”) data with the potential risks to individual privacy and confidentiality. Issues such as data privacy, confidentiality, data ownership, informed consent, the different types of data and their implications for different school constituencies, and the lack of common definitions were discussed. Susan Fuhrman and P. David Pearson serve as co-chairs of the project, and committee members include: Elizabeth Buchanan, Chris Dede, Louis Gomez, Andrew Ho, and Sophia Rabe-Hesketh.


Workshop Series on Methods and Policy Uses of International Large-Scale Assessments (ILSAs)

The NAEd recently received a one-year no-cost extension to complete its work on the IES funded project Methods and Policy Uses of International Large-Scale Assessments. In the coming months, the NAEd will finalize the workshop summary report, which will be reviewed and published in time for the NAEd’s 2017 fall annual meeting. This report, along with commissioned papers and a workshop video-cast, will be posted on the project webpage.

The NAEd held a pair of workshops on ILSAs in Washington, DC in June and September 2016 that fostered constructive dialogue among education researchers, policy makers, international test developers, and the media. The first workshop focused on the somewhat more technical methodological issues related to the design, analysis, and reporting of ILSAs. The second workshop moved into aspects of reporting, as well as interpretation and policy uses. Judith Singer serves as the chair of the project, and committee members include: Henry Braun, Anna Katyn Chmielewski, Richard Duran, David Kaplan, Marshall “Mike” Smith, and Judith Torney-Purta. The grant also includes a subcontract with the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences, and Education (DBASSE) for planning work on a possible follow-up consensus study.


Global Migration, Diversity, and Civic Education

The NAEd sponsored book Global Migration, Diversity, and Civic Education that was published by Teachers College Press last fall and continues to receive positive feedback, including two recent positive reviews in Teachers College Record and in Theory & Research in Social Education (a publication of the College and University Faculty Assembly of the National Council for the Social Studies).

This volume, edited by James Banks, Marcelo Suárez-Orozco, and Miriam Ben-Peretz, resulted from a workshop funded by the Spencer Foundation. The objectives of this project included: (a) the development of a network of scholars, policy makers, and educators on immigration, cultural sustainability, and social cohesion; and (b) cultivation and dissemination of research on these issues. Commissioned papers from the workshop along with additional contributions form the basis of the volume, which is available through Teachers College Press.


Research Advisory Committee and Projects in Development

Development of new research projects is overseen by the NAEd Research Advisory Committee (RAC), whose membership currently includes: Robert Floden (chair), Thomas Bailey, Prudence Carter, Glynda Hull, David Kaplan, Marcia Linn, and Pamela Moss. Ex-officio members include Michael Feuer, Heidi Schweingruber (as DBASSE liaison) and NAEd staff members Amy Berman and Greg White. The RAC is scheduled to meet at AERA, during which time potential new projects will be discussed.

Under the auspices of RAC, four grant proposals were recently developed:

  • A three-year grant proposal to fund Causal Mechanisms in Context: Comparative Cases, Social Networks, and Complex Systems was submitted to IES in August and is currently in panel review for funding consideration. If funded, this project will be led by Pamela Moss, Robert Floden, and Louis Gomez. In addition, the RAC is also looking at alternative funding strategies to conduct this work if the project does not receive funding from IES.
  • A proposal was developed to support a workshop and edited volume with the American Academy of Political and Social Science (AAPSS) The Annals on the topic of Educational Assessment as Useful and Useable Evidence. Michael Feuer and James Pellegrino will co-chair the workshop, and along with Amy Berman, will co-edit The Annals (likely the November 2018 edition). The NAEd and AAPSS are in the process of identifying potential funders for the workshop.
  • A proposal for a Study of Comparability Issues in Large-Scale Assessment was recently developed and shared with Smarter Balanced for funding consideration, and NAEd is also in the process of identifying other potential funders. The aim of this project is to provide guidance to Common Core assessment consortia and other large-scale assessment programs regarding how much and what types of flexibility in assessment content and procedures can be allowed, while maintaining comparability across jurisdictions and student populations.
  • A proposal developed by Carol Lee on Socializing Democratic Civic Debate is currently under review by the NAEd RAC and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. This proposal relates to a discussion held during the November 18, 2016 NAEd Members Business Meeting. Members engaged in a conversation led by Carol Lee regarding the possibility of a new project focused on public education’s role in socializing and cultivating dispositions, discourses, and skills for civic debate.

In addition to these proposals being reviewed and submitted for funding consideration, the following project ideas have been generated and are being discussed by RAC for possible further development:

  • Potential collaboration with the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare (AASWSW) initiated by NAEd and AASWSW member Ron Avi Astor.
  • Guidelines for the collection and archiving of video data.
  • Integrative uses of technology focusing on diverse learners.
  • Training needs of Discipline Based Education Research (DBER) scholars.
  • A project focused on the improvement of teacher quality, as well as utilization of research in teacher preparation programs.

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