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Regional Labs Competition Opens At Last

The nation's regional educational laboratories will at last go out to bid today, with the release of final applications for the next five-year contracts for the groups.

The final request for proposals differs little from the working draft released in March, but this officially secures the labs' continued existence, which had been in peril during Congressional budget debates this spring.

in their next iteration, the labs will continue to include experimental design research, but they will focus heavily on building capacity among budget-strapped states and districts to conduct their own research and train teachers and administrators to use it. The labs will also be responsible for helping to create research consortia among stakeholder groups on topics of interest, such as teacher quality.

"It seems to be in the same track, which is great,' said Max McConkey, the chief policy and communications officer for WestEd, a current REL operator. "We've always felt the special niche of the RELs has been in these research partnerships, and the consortia is interesting," he told me, adding, "This returns the focus to that, but maintains the rigor that came in during [former IES Director Grover "Russ"] Whitehurst's administration. In some respects it's kind of the best of both worlds, so I'm really pleased."

Applications must be received by June 29.

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