IES Blog

Institute of Education Sciences

Grateful for Our Interns: The 2022-23 NCSER Interns from the U.S. Department of Education Student Intern Program

In a continued celebration of Thanksgiving, NCSER would like to express its gratitude to all the student volunteer interns that are giving their time and talents to help us understand and communicate about education research. In our fourth blog about these interns, we are highlighting the NCSER interns who come to us through the Student Volunteer Trainee Program. The interns are working on a variety of different tasks, including writing blogs, helping to revise and update our online abstracts, coding listening sessions, and assisting with various other writing and data analysis projects as needed. Their mentor, Amy Sussman, is proud to introduce the team.

Alysa Conway

Headshot of Alysa Conway

I am currently a second-year master’s student in education policy and leadership at the University of Maryland, College Park. I’m interested in the development of college identity for diverse students and research relevant to race, disability, and the law. These interests led to a special interest in assisting with college identity development for students with disabilities, especially students with mental and neurodevelopmental disabilities. I’m committed to education advocacy, including waiving standardized testing, increasing minority enrollment, and altering the diversity education requirements for all undergraduates at the University of Maryland. I have collaborated with educators and community leaders in Washington, DC. for equity-centered professional development strategies. My goals for the future, after receiving my master’s degree, include working at the U.S. Department of Education on postsecondary education issues and pursuing a PhD in student affairs so that I can dedicate myself to developing legal or academic supports for Black students and students with disabilities at institutions of higher education. Through this NCSER internship, I plan to strengthen my professional pursuits by building technical writing skills, gaining a stronger understanding of research, supporting analysis of information through qualitative data coding, and learning more about strategies to improve equity and excellence in education.

Fun Fact: I love cooking! Food is a part of my love language and I love to cook Italian, Asian, and Southern cuisine. I am also a music fanatic with a very expansive palette—I love alternative indie, hip-hop, rap, neo-soul, pop, electric dance, and rock music. My favorite way to enjoy music is with the windows down with a crisp breeze and the sight of the leaves changing.

Isabelle Saillard

Headshot of Isabelle Saillard

I am a fourth-year undergraduate at the University of Virginia. My majors in public policy and econometric statistics have contributed greatly to my interest in K-12 education policy, landing me amazing experiences that have prepared me well for this internship at IES. My internships at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Education Office and at the U.S. Department of Education Impact Aid Office have taught me a lot about how federal agencies interact with other organizations. My goals include attending graduate school and working to build stronger cross-agency collaboration to support evidence-based education reform. This internship serves my goals well as I learn about different projects and gain new research skills geared toward studying special education practices. Paired with the mentorship and support of IES staff, I am excited to see where this internship takes me!

Fun Fact: I love the outdoors so much that one morning, I walked 26.2 miles on a whim (from northern VA to DC and back), making me a marathoner.

Grateful for Our Interns: The 2022-23 Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility Interns

In honor of Thanksgiving, NCER and NCSER would like to express their gratitude to all of the student volunteer interns that are giving their time and talents to help us understand and communicate about education research. In our third blog about these interns, we are highlighting our diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) interns. These interns come to us through the Virtual Student Federal Service program and are being mentored by Katina Stapleton (NCER).

Audrey Im (she/her)

I am from the Bay Area in California and am currently a UCLA undergraduate majoring in political science and minoring in professional writing and film. Ever since I was young, my dream profession was to be a teacher—the process of sharing knowledge with other people is thrilling for me. I was lucky enough to have great teachers with distinct, effective teaching styles, and I knew that somewhere along the road, I wanted to have the same effect on another generation of students as those teachers had on me. Currently, I am focused on learning how to write in a manner that makes information accessible.

Fun Fact: I love writing poetry! Recently, I've been doing a monthly poetry project where I write a poem using only song lyrics from my favorite tunes of the month. It's been very fun and challenging. I would highly recommend trying it out!

 

Zaakirah Rahman

I’m currently a senior at the City College of New York pursuing a bachelor’s degree in English education and a minor in sociology. I was born and raised in Queens, so I’ve been a part of the New York City school system for as long as I can remember. This has helped fuel my passion for pursuing education as a career. School has contributed a lot to my life, from teaching me what I know to even being a second home at times. I’d like to give back through being in the classroom myself and enacting real change. I currently work at the New York Public Library as a page, a job that is suited to my love for reading. Additionally, I’m the outreach chair for the New York chapter of an organization called MIST (Muslim Interscholastic Tournament), where we organize an annual tournament with various competitions for high school students. The tournament itself champions helping students bring out the best in themselves, and my role helps me meet all kinds of people to share this experience.

Fun Fact: I love photography and am owner to an ever-growing collection of cameras.

 
 

NCES Celebrates IES and NCES Anniversaries With Retrospective Report on Federal Education Statistics

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) and 155 years since the creation of a federal agency to collect and report education statistics for the United States, a role now fulfilled by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). To celebrate both of these anniversaries, NCES has just released a new commemorative report—A Retrospective Look at U.S. Education Statistics—that explores the history and use of federal education statistics.



The 11 statistical profiles in phase I of this report can be found within two tabs: Elementary and Secondary Education and Postsecondary Education. Users can toggle between these two tabs and then select a particular statistical profile in the drop-down menu, such as Number of Elementary and Secondary Schools, High School Coursetaking, Enrollment in Postsecondary Institutions, and Postsecondary Student Costs and Financing.


Image of report website showing tabs for Elementary and Secondary Education and Postsecondary Education and the drop-down menu to select individual statistical profiles


Each of the statistical profiles in this report is broken down into the following sections:

  • what the statistic measures (what the data may indicate about a particular topic)
  • what to know about the statistic (the history of the data collection and how it may have changed over time)
  • what the data reveal (broad historical trends/patterns in the data, accompanied by figures)
  • more information (reference tables and related resources)

Each statistical profile can be downloaded as a PDF, and each figure within a profile can be downloaded or shared via a link or on social media.

For background and context, this report also includes a Historical Event Timeline. In this section, readers can learn about major periods of prolonged economic downturn, periods of military action, and periods when U.S. troops were drafted as a part of military action—as well as major pieces of federal legislation—and how some of these events could have disrupted the nation’s social life and schooling or impacted education across the country.

The report also includes a brief overview of NCES, which can be accessed by expanding the dark blue bar labeled NCES Overview: Past, Present, and Future. This section covers the history of NCES and its mission, the evolution of NCES reports and data collections, and current and future changes to NCES’s reporting methods.


Image of report website showing introductory text and the NCES Overview blue bar


This commemorative guide to federal education statistics is not intended to be a comprehensive report on the subject but rather a resource that provides an in-depth look at a selection of statistics. Stay tuned for the release of phase II next year, which will include additional statistical profiles. Be sure to follow NCES on TwitterFacebookLinkedIn, and YouTube and subscribe to the NCES News Flash to stay up-to-date!

 

By Megan Barnett, AIR

From the NCSER Commissioner: Letter to the Field

Headshot of Joan McLaughlin

Dear Colleagues,

I am writing to announce my retirement at the end of December of this year. It has been a delight to serve as Commissioner, and Deputy Commissioner before that, of the National Center for Special Education Research. The work of NCSER is important and unique in the federal government—supporting research to improve our understanding of children and youth with disabilities and the services provided through IDEA. We have accomplished a great deal in the last several years. We have invested over 1 billion dollars in roughly 550 research grants to improve academic access, engagement, and progress; social and behavioral skills for learning; functional and transition skills; and the tools educators need to improve outcomes for students with or at risk for disabilities. We have made a meaningful difference in special education research and in the lives of students, educators, and families. And we have committed to providing research training opportunities to increase the capacity in the field—to date we have funded training for 79 postdoctoral fellows and research and mentoring for 33 early career scholars as well as hundreds of established researchers in our methods trainings. NCSER is in a good place for new leadership.

None of this would have been possible, of course, without two key ingredients. The first is the work of NCSER staff. Their expertise, hard work, and passion for the mission of the Center has supported the advances that have been made across all our research portfolios. Their kindness and sense of humor have helped get us through the tougher times of limited budgets and the COVID-19 pandemic. They made each workday better and will continue to keep our small Center mighty. I know I leave you in good hands as NCSER transitions to a new Commissioner.

The second ingredient is the work of the researchers who have taken on the challenges of working in early intervention and special education. Thank you all for your commitment to high quality research, your concern for learners with disabilities, and your patience and persistence when circumstances, such as the pandemic, got tough. I hope that you have felt the importance of your contribution toward evidence building and addressing issues of critical importance to students, practitioners, and families. I have learned so much from you and appreciate your support, and I look forward to hearing about your current and future projects.

IES Director Mark Schneider and I are of course invested in making sure the excellent research funded by NCSER continues. If you have thoughts about the Commissioner role or individuals you would like to be considered for the role, you can reach Mark at mark.schneider@ed.gov.

Take care and support one another in this important work. I will be around until the end of December, but my thoughts will continue to be with you long after I leave IES. Thank you all so much.

Wishing you all the best,

Joan McLaughlin
NCSER Commissioner

Grateful for Our Interns: The 2022-23 Data Science Interns at NCER and NCSER

In preparation for Thanksgiving, NCER and NCSER would like to express their gratitude to all the student volunteer interns who are giving their time and talents to help us understand and communicate about education research. In our second blog about these interns, we are highlighting our data science interns. These interns come to us through either the Virtual Student Federal Service program or the Student Volunteer Trainee Program. The interns are working on different data science tasks, such as data visualizations, finding ways to connect publication information from different federal databases to funded NCER and NCSER projects, and helping to understand and improve internal data on research projects. Their primary mentors, Sarah Brasiel (NCSER) and Meredith Larson (NCER), are proud to introduce the team.

Megan Church

Headshot of Megan Church

I am a senior at William & Mary, pursuing a bachelor’s degree with a double major in data science and psychology. I am a lead researcher at William & Mary's School of Education, focusing on elementary students’ interactions with data. Due to my interest in education research and love of creating data visualizations, the IES data science internship seemed like the perfect fit. I hope this opportunity will give me a glimpse into the inner workings of the research branch of the U.S. Department of Education and help me decide on a future career path.

Fun Fact: I have been to seven concerts this year in six cities, three states, and two countries.

Katelyn Egan

Headshot of Katelyn Egan

I am pursuing a master’s degree in educational psychology with a concentration in learning analytics through the University of Wisconsin, Madison. I’m looking forward to applying the data science and analysis skills I have learned in my program and learning more about the research goals and initiatives of the Institute of Education Sciences. Previously, I received a Fulbright grant to work with English language learners at a vocational secondary school in Bulgaria for the 2019-20 academic year and worked as a teacher for 2 years in South Africa with the Peace Corps. I have also spent 2 years working in the educational technology industry and hope to continue using data science and analytics to serve K-12 educators and students.

Fun Fact: I play the bassoon!

Juliette Gudknecht

Headshot of Juliette Gudknecht

I am pursuing a master’s degree in the applied statistics program at Columbia University. My prior internships at NASA, the U.S. State Department, and my university were among the experiences that helped me prepare for this internship. My goal is to pursue a PhD in special education studying autism spectrum disorder in academic contexts. I applied for this internship to gain critical data analysis skills and learn about the U.S. Department of Education and IES. I hope this experience will allow me to gain the necessary skills to become a qualified researcher in quantitative studies within special education. Thank you to everyone at IES for this amazing opportunity!

Fun Fact: I have my own nonprofit for Autism advocacy!

Rikesh Patel

I am pursuing a bachelor's degree in economics with minor in data science engineering at University of California, Los Angeles. I have honed my analytical and technical skills in working with SharePoint databases in past internships, which led me to this internship. I will be working with internal data to help the research centers gain more insight into their grants and contracts. I fell in love with data years ago, and now I aspire to become a full-fledged data scientist in the future, applying Python, SQL, and other technical knowledges to do my best. One day, I want to help develop a model that helps people all over the world.

Fun Fact: I recently got into traveling. This winter, I'm planning on taking some cooking classes in Greece!

Morgan Tucker

Headshot of Morgan Tucker

I am in my final undergraduate year at the University of Texas (UT) at Austin, studying international political economy and data science. I currently work as a research assistant for UT’s Innovations for Peace and Development Lab, researching the connections between government/agency responsiveness and discrimination towards citizens and am using many different packages, analytics, and visualization tools in R to do so. I previously worked under the U.S. Embassy Amman as a data management intern, where I created tutorials, researched best data management practices, and incorporated feedback to improve data collection, management, and distribution. I also used Python and SQL as a data scientist for the V&A Waterfront marketing team in South Africa, using large data sets, advanced querying, and machine learning to develop consumer profiles. Right now, my main goal is to remain sane as I reach the end of my undergraduate experience. I also hope to stay in Austin and enroll in a master’s programs this fall to further hone my programming skills and work at the intersection of data science and government. With my background in economic development and R programming, this internship opportunity was the perfect mix of both and will be an amazing way to improve my programming expertise and see what my future career may look like.

Fun Fact:  I studied abroad in Cape Town, South Africa this past summer. I learned a lot about urban economic development during my time there and can’t wait to visit again!