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Education Research: Ed. Dept. Asks What's Left to Learn

The U.S. Education Department wants to know what program should be next on tap for an intensive (likely expensive) field evaluation.

Most federal education program's are required to set aside a few percentage points of their total budgets to conduct evaluations of how well they are being implemented and how effective they are at their stated goals. In practice, however, it can take decades to do one thorough, large-scale experimental evaluation of a major federal program, and smaller programs often fall to the back of the line.

Congress' fiscal 2014 appropriations legislation specifically allows the Education Department to pool several of these smaller evaluation set-aside funds in order to support larger and more rigorous studies. 

In a post today on the department's official blog, the department calls for educators, researchers and the public at large for their "most pressing problems of policy and practice" to help it decide what to evaluate first. In particular, the department wants to know:

  1. The most critical questions "still unanswered" in preschool through 12th grade education;
  2. How answering those question would provide "information that could be used by schools, districts, and states to improve student outcomes for all students and/or particular groups of students";
  3. The best type of study to answer the question (likely a nod to those concerned about an overrepresentation of randomized control trials to the exclusion of implementation studies and others) and; 
  4. Implications the results would have for existing, specific practices, policies, and programs (mentioned "by name if possible.")

Those who want to put their two cents in can reply to the blog itself or to [email protected] by Monday, Dec. 1, 2014.

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