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What Easton Would Do If He Ruled Education Research

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Yesterday, as a Senate committee in Washington approved his nomination to be the new research czar at the U.S. Department of Education, John Easton shared one idea that he hopes to bring to the job.

Easton, who is currently the executive director of the Chicago Consortium on School Research, talked to me at a conference that his organization hosted in Chicago. Here's what he had to say:

One thing that I would like to see as a real priority for myself is to look carefully over the last six years and ask under what circumstances, and under what conditions, are particular kinds of research strategies and methodologies most likely to give the most information.

That, of course, refers to ongoing debates over what some think has been an overemphasis at the Institute of Education Sciences on strict scientific experiments, over other kinds of studies. What Easton has in mind is a commission of sorts to generate some "good thinking" on the topic. (What do you think, readers? Is he on the right track or have organizations like the National Research Council already plowed this ground thoroughly enough?)

Easton also said he wants to take stock of findings from the dozens of studies that IES has financed over the past six years to see if any cross-cutting themes emerge that can be shared with the field.

The confirmation process has not ended for Easton, though. Even though the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee gave its thumbs up yesterday, the full Senate still has to take up the matter.

1 Comment

John Easton is on the right track in assessing IES's use of various research methodologies over the past six years. Forming a commmission or having the national Board for Ed Sciences would be a good approach. The key is to use that very fine paper by the NRC in 2002 as a point of reference for the reference. That report emphasised the very logical but significant point that the method should be appropriate to the nature of inquiry. We are very eager for John to come to town and provide new leadership in this next important chapter of IES.

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