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IES Seeks Proposals for Studies in 24 Areas

The Institute of Education Sciences has some more money to give out to researchers, according to new research grant guidelines posted this week. The grants will be available in 24 topical areas, including cognition and student learning, special education, education policy and finance, and teacher quality.

Most of these study programs have been around a few years, but two are new. One calls for studies on the organization and management of schools and districts. Under this program, which reflects IES Director John Easton's experience working with Chicago public schools, researchers are being encouraged to study the organizational factors, such as the coherence of the instructional program, the degree of trust in a school, or how much teachers learn from one another, that contribute to successful schools.

"I think all successful programs and policies depend on an understanding of how classrooms are connected to school buildings and how school buildings are connected to districts," Easton says of the new initiative. "The better we are able to understand these connections, the better we will be able to develop and implement strong programs."

The second newbie is a program of studies on adult education. According to Lynn Okagaki, the IES commissioner who oversees the research grants program, even though 14 percent of adults have difficulty reading and 22 percent have limited number skills, little is known about how to boost their skills in adult education programs, including those that are targeted to English-language learners.

Also, under the early learning studies program, the institute is looking for researchers to develop and validate easy-to-use measures of kindergarten readiness that cover a variety of the skills that children need to succeed in their first year of school as well as screening procedures to locate children who might need special interventions.

And an interesting strand of work under the student learning in special education study program calls for research that applies new advances in cognitive science to the field of special education.

You can find the official request for application for the research grants here. The special education grants are listed separately. The applications are due in June and September. Researchers who want to catch the first wave of grants need to file a letter of intent by April 29.

If Congress agrees to the Education Department's budget request for the research agency, the IES expects to spend more than $150 million in the coming fiscal year on new and continuing grants for all of these programs. Though not nearly as much as the department is spending on Race to the Top programs, it's a healthy chunk of the IES's funding, nonetheless.

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