In an effort to include policymakers and practitioners throughout the research and evaluation cycle, the National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance recently conducted meetings with key stakeholder groups to help shape NCEE's upcoming evaluations of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and Upward Bound (a federally funded college access program for high school students who are low-income and/or whose parents do not hold bachelor's degrees).
The meetings, with the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the Council on Opportunity in Education (COE), were initiated by NCEE Commissioner Rebecca Maynard and acting Associate Commissioner Marsha Silverberg, and also included acting Associate Commissioner Audrey Pendleton and project officers Stefanie Schmidt and Meredith Bachman. This outreach reflects NCEE's desire to make its evaluation work more relevant and responsive to stakeholder concerns.
"We think it's important to get input from our studies' stakeholders upfront," said Silverberg. "We want to make sure our data collection and analysis focus on the questions and issues that matter."
CCSSO Executive Director Gene Wilhoit and program director Rolf Blank provided useful advice about state interests in and concerns about ARRA while COE provided initial feedback on study plans and possible strategies to examine in the Upward Bound evaluation of promising practices. Both sets of input are already being incorporated into data collection for the respective evaluations.
As one part of national efforts to increase the number of college graduates, the National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance recently awarded a new 5-year contract to collect information on the services, supports, and outcomes of students with disabilities in their transition from high school to postsecondary education, training, and work. A key goal of the study is to identify potential barriers to successful transitions for students with disabilities compared to those without disabilities.
The study is the third in a series of large-scale longitudinal surveys of students with disabilities that the Department of Education has funded and the first in nearly a decade to track a large number of students over time. It will be conducted by Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. in conjunction with the University of Minnesota's Institute on Community Integration and Decision Information Resources, Inc.
Data collection for the study will begin in the spring of 2012 and 2014. Approximately 15,000 students between the ages of 13 and 21 from 300 school districts across the country will be randomly selected so that the study produces nationally representative information for policymakers and other educators. Students, parents, principals, and teachers will be interviewed and data will be extracted from school records.