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Rigorous Research Debate Awaits Under NCLB

NCLB's reauthorization will involve fights over big issues (such as testing, AYP, and school choice) and a whole bunch of small ones.

In U.S. Position on Research Seen in Flux, my colleague Debra Viadero explains that the definition of "scientifically valid research" will be one of those small ones. Last fall, the House education committee's discussion draft would have expanded the definition to include studies that don't have control groups.

"We can't be constrained solely by quasi-experimental and random-assignment studies in education," Roberto Rodriguez, a senior adviser to Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., said at a Feb. 21 panel discussion on Capitol Hill.

But a Department of Education official wants Congress to proceed carefully before changing the definition.

"Unless we bring in rigor, we're not going to bring in really scientific advances," Williamson Evers, the assistant secretary for planning, evaluation, and policy development, said at the same forum.

Other stories in the March 5, 2008, issue of Education Week:
Bush Education Budget Inadequate, Spellings Is Told
A Key Republican Sees Odds Dipping for NCLB Renewal (based on last Thursday's comments by Rep. Howard P. "Buck" McKeon, R-Calif.)
New Group Formed to Promote Liberal Arts Curriculum (as mentioned in this item about Common Core)

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