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Research Labs Still Waiting For Contract News

The Education Department still has not officially opened its competition for the next iteration of the nation's regional educational labs, originally slated to go out on or around March 25. The RELs remain in a bit of a holding pattern, as Congressional appropriations that would pay for the contracts are also up in the air.

With no certainty yet on funding or contracts, the Institute of Education Sciences is busy tying up as many loose ends as possible. "It has been a very difficult time," said Rebecca Maynard, the commissioner of IES' National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance. "Because of some of the uncertainty that has been swirling around the funding for the RELs this year, we have been prioritizing work to minimize the risk of unfinished work on the table—in particular leaving unfinished data sets that we have invested a lot of time and effort into out there on the ether."

Ludwig "Ludy" van Broekhuizen, the executive director of the REL Southeast at the SERVE Center at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, said he would not be surprised if the final contract competition takes a while to finalize. Yet he said his lab team is excited about the Education Department's proposal to require research alliances around specific regional education problems.

"I think it is allowing us to go even further in developing our relationships with state and local folks to bring the research endeavor into the practice community," he said. "We can be really creative about how we structure our alliances to work in our states."

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