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Buckley To Step Down as Commissioner of National Center for Education Statistics

The Institute of Education Sciences will soon be in the market, yet again, for a top official: Commissioner Sean P. "Jack" Buckley is leaving the National Center for Education Statistics at the end of the year to become vice president of research for the College Board.

A former New York University statistician, Buckley has led NCES since 2010, helping to guide federal grants for the massive expansions of state longitudinal student data systems; overseeing the Condition of Education's move to a digital format; and benchmarking the Nation's Report Card tests to the Trends in International Science and Mathematics Study, among other things. Buckley leaves the post nearly a year and a half before his term ends, and IES Director John Q. Easton said he could not yet comment on plans for Buckley's successor. The Institute has struggled repeatedly with long vacancies among its top posts, and NCES's leader will be an even bigger hole to fill than most, as the center administers several high-profile tests in the National Assessment of Educational Progress each year.

However, it's a clever move for the Board, which lost Buckley's predecessor, Wayne Camara, to ACT this summer. Buckley said he is planning to "sustain and build out" the group's research division, including measurement and validity studies of the New York City-based board's overhaul of its college readiness and placement tests. "They're looking to expand it a bit, because they've restructured and changed a lot of what they used to do.They're in a really interesting place right now."

In particular, Buckley said the Board's research into postsecondary education mirrors NCES' studies of issues around college remediation and new ways of delivering higher education instruction, and he said both he and the Board are interested in digging into the problem of "undermatching," in which academically qualified students from poor or minority backgrounds either do not attend college or attend schools much less selective than their academic qualifications would predict. "

"These issues are huge," Buckley said. "There's a lot going on in education right now, and I'm interested in figuring out the best way to find out what's actually working in postsecondary education."

For more on testing implications of the move, see my colleague Catherine Gewertz's coverage over at Curriculum Matters.

Want more research news? Follow @SarahDSparks on Twitter for the latest studies, and join the conversation.

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