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Need Advice on New Education Research Rules? National Board Can't Help Yet

President Obama has appointed researchers to fill three of the seven vacant posts on the National Board for Education Sciences. Even with the new and returning members, the group that advises the federal education research agency still won't have enough members to operate.

"Given the recent passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act and its provisions to incorporate evidence-based programs in the classroom, along with the increasing demand and value placed on evidence-based policy making in education, we believe it is past time to appoint the additional NBES members," wrote Juliane Baron, chair of the "Friends of IES," a coalition of 40 research groups, in a letter to the White House last month.

Two of the appointees are finishing up their first terms on the board: David Chard, special education expert and president of Wheelock College in Boston, and Larry Hedges, a statistics and social policy professor at Northwestern University who develops quantitative methods for education research and large-scale assessments. The final appointee would be Jeannie Oakes, a senior fellow in residence at the nonprofit Learning Policy Institute.

Under law, the NBES must have 15 voting members appointed by the President for six-year terms. It has had problems over the years replacing outgoing members quickly enough to keep its quorum. Research groups have voiced concern that the Institute of Education Sciences won't have much input from the board while states and districts begin to implement new research requirements under the Every Student Succeeds Act. 

What with ESSA, the election season, and the long-delayed reauthorization of the Education Sciences Reform Act, "we're in uncertain times," said Michele McLaughlin, president of the Knowledge Alliance, which represents regional educational labs and other research groups. "During a transition you need a strong committee to keep the work moving forward."


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