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About IES: Connecting Research, Policy and Practice

The Institute of Education Sciences (IES) is the statistics, research, and evaluation arm of the U.S. Department of Education. We are independent and non-partisan. Our mission is to provide scientific evidence on which to ground education practice and policy and to share this information in formats that are useful and accessible to educators, parents, policymakers, researchers, and the public.

IES conducts six broad types of work that addresses school readiness and education from infancy through adulthood and includes special populations such as English Learners and students with disabilities.

  • We provide data that describe how well the United States is educating its students. We collect and analyze official statistics on the condition of education, including adult education and literacy; support international assessments; and carry out the National Assessment of Educational Progress.
  • We conduct surveys and sponsor research projects to understand where education needs improvement and how these improvements might be made. Our longitudinal surveys provide nationally representative data on how students are progressing through school and into the workforce. Our cross-sectional surveys provide a snapshot of how students and the education system are doing at specific points in time. We fund research that uses these and other data to gain a deeper understanding of the nature and context of needed education improvements.
  • We fund development and rigorous testing of new approaches for improving education outcomes for all students. We support development of practical solutions for education from the earliest design stages through pilot studies and rigorous testing at scale. With IES support, researchers are learning what works for improving instruction, student behavior, teacher learning, and school and system organization.
  • We conduct large-scale evaluations of federal education programs and policies. Our evaluations address complex issues of national importance, such as the impact of alternative pathways to teacher preparation, teacher and leader evaluation systems, school improvement initiatives, and school choice programs.
  • We provide resources to increase use of data and research in education decision making. Through the What Works Clearinghouse, we conduct independent reviews of research on what works in education. The Regional Educational Laboratories offer opportunities to learn what works as well as coaching, training, and other support for research use. Our Statewide Longitudinal Data System grants enable states to more efficiently track education outcomes and provide useful, timely information to decision makers.
  • We support advancement of statistics and research through specialized training and development of methods and measures. We fund pre-doctoral and post-doctoral training programs, as well as database training and short courses on cutting-edge topics for working statisticians and researchers. Our empirical work on new methods and measures ensures continued advances in the accuracy, usefulness, and cost-effectiveness of education data collections and research.

Explore our website to learn more about how IES serves the nation by providing education data and research. Here you’ll find education data sets, data tools, reports, educator’s practice guides, summaries of completed and in-progress research and evaluation projects, videos, infographics, and more.

Biennial Report
Under the Education Sciences Reform Act of 2002, IES must report on each grant, contract, and cooperative agreement in excess of $100,000 awarded through its four national education centers. This report, which covers Fiscal Years 2013 through 2016, summarizes activities by center, type of award, fiscal year, and by the unit or program under which the activity is supported. The report also provides the award number, recipient, and amount of award. You can search for additional information and descriptions of awarded grants on the IES website.

Previous Biennial Reports (PDFs)

Other Reports and Documents

Common Guidelines for Education Research and Development
This August 2013 report from the Department of Education and the National Science Foundation explains how the two agencies hope to realize the full potential of their education research and development investments—including obtaining meaningful findings and actionable results—through a more systematic development of knowledge. The report describes six types of research studies that can generate evidence about how to increase student learning. Research types include those that generate the most fundamental understandings related to education and learning; examinations of associations between variables; iterative design and testing of strategies or interventions; and assessments of the impact of a fully-developed intervention on an education outcome. For each research type, the report describes the purpose and the expected empirical and/or theoretical justifications, types of project outcomes, and quality of evidence.

IES Mission, Functions, and Organization
IES was created by the Education Sciences Reform Act of 2002 (ESRA).  ESRA also provides the legislative authority for the four IES Centers (NCER, NCES, NCEE, and NCSER) and for most IES programs.  The Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems program is authorized under the Educational Technical Assistance Act of 2002, and the National Assessment of Educational Progress is authorized under the National Assessment of Educational Progress Authorization Act. IES is delegated the authority to conduct studies and evaluations of special education programs authorized by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act under section 664 of that Act.

Note: The compilations of public laws provided here are unofficial documents prepared by the House Office of Legislative Counsel (HOLC) for the use and convenience of the Members and committees of the U.S. House of Representatives and should not be cited as legal evidence of the law.

IES Performance Compared to Other Federal Programs
The U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) gave IES an effective rating, the highest a program can receive. OMB concluded: "IES has transformed the quality and rigor of education research within the Department of Education and increased the demand for scientifically based evidence of effectiveness in the education field as a whole."