Inside IES Research

Notes from NCER & NCSER

NCSER Researchers Receive Awards from the Council for Exceptional Children

In April, the annual Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) held its annual Convention and Expo, during which scholars were recognized for their research contributions to the field. A number of NCSER-funded investigators were among those honored by the CEC.

Michael Wehmeyer (right) received the CEC Special Education Research Award, which recognizes an individual or team whose research has made significant contributions to the education of children and youth with exceptionalities. Dr. Wehmeyer has served as the principal investigator (PI) on two NCSER-funded awards.  He tested the promise of efficacy for the Self-Determined Learning Model of Instruction, an intervention to promote self-determination, access to the general education curriculum, and support for the needs of students with disabilities to achieve academic and transition-related goals.  He and his research team are currently developing an assessment, the Self-Determination Inventory System, to measure self-determination for a range of disability groups as well as youth and young adults without disabilities.

Rob Horner (right) is the 2016 recipient of the Kauffman-Hallahan Distinguished Researcher Award. This honor, awarded by the CEC Division of Research, recognizes individuals or research teams who have made outstanding scientific contributions in basic or applied research in special education over the course of their careers. Dr. Horner has been the recipient of several IES-funded awards. He is currently testing the efficacy of Team-Initiated Problem Solving, a training and coaching intervention for teaching school teams to use behavioral and academic progress-monitoring data to define and solve problems. For a number of years Dr. Horner has also been a lead faculty member of the IES Summer Research Training Institute for Single-Case Intervention Research Design and Analysis, a professional development program that has increased the national capacity of education researchers to conduct methodologically rigorous single-case intervention studies.

Brian Boyd (left) is the winner of the 2016 Distinguished Early Career Research Award, an honor from CEC’s Division of Research that recognizes individuals with outstanding scientific contributions in special education research within the first 10 years after receiving a doctoral degree. Dr. Boyd has played key roles on several NCSER-funded grants, including as co-PI on an award to develop Advancing Social-Communication and Play (ASAP), an intervention aimed at improving the social-communication and play skills of preschoolers with Autism Spectrum Disorders. He is also the PI for a current grant examining the efficacy of ASAP.

All of this year’s CEC Division of Research award winners will give an invited presentation at the 2017 CEC Convention and Expo.  At this year’s convention, held April 13-16, the Division of Research award recipients from 2015 gave presentations. This includes two previous winners of the Distinguished Early Career Research Award – Karrie Shogren and Kent McIntosh – both of whom have been NCSER-funded investigators.

Karrie Shogren (right) had received an award from NCSER in which she analyzed data from the National Longitudinal Transition Study-2 to identify individual and environmental factors that predict self-determination and examine the relationship between self-determination and long-term outcomes of students with disabilities. As part of a current NCSER-funded project, Kent McIntosh (left) is conducting an exploratory study to identify malleable factors that enhance or inhibit the implementation and sustainability of school-wide social-emotional and behavior support practices, focusing on School-wide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports.

The Division of Research was not the only CEC group awarding honors to NCSER-funded investigators. Maureen Conroy (right) was awarded the 2016 Outstanding Leadership Award from CEC’s Council for Children with Behavioral Disorders. This award recognizes an individual who has made significant contributions to research, leadership, teacher education, and policy in the field of behavior disorders. Dr. Conroy has received funding to develop a preventative classroom-based intervention that targets problem behaviors by preschool teachers and to evaluate the efficacy of BEST in CLASS, an intervention for young children at high risk for emotional and behavioral disorders.

IES congratulates all the winners!

Written by Amy Sussman, program officer, NCSER

A New Research Spotlight on Educating Highly Mobile Students

Across America, schools struggle with addressing the academic and social needs of students who are homeless, in foster care, from migrant backgrounds, or military-dependent. These students typically change residences and/or schools frequently (often multiple times within a given school year) making it difficult for them to succeed academically.  

This year, the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) is shining a research spotlight on improving the education outcomes of highly mobile K-12 students through a new special topic within its Education Research grants program. The new Systemic Approaches to Educating Highly Mobile Students special topic invites research on:

  • support services that reduce barriers that highly mobile students typically face;
  • policies that allow highly mobile students to receive credit for full or partial coursework completed while attending their previous schools;
  • policies that facilitate the transfer of student records across jurisdictions, and help highly mobile students navigate standards, course, and graduation requirements that change from state to state;
  • policies and programs that address the academic, physical, psychological, and social needs of highly mobile students who may have experienced deprivation or trauma; and
  • state and local implementation of services for highly mobile students that are required by federal law or are provided through federally funded programs or interstate agreements.  

Through this special topic, IES also encourages studies that create or utilize shared/integrated data systems (such as records exchanges) to identify and track highly mobile students and pinpoint factors that could potentially be used to improve these students' outcomes. 

(Dr. Jill Biden, pictured above, mentioned this new special topic area in her remarks at the American Educational Research Association's annual conference as part of her focus on military families.)

Additional Opportunities for Research on Highly Mobile Students

Researchers who are interested in studying highly mobile pre-K students are invited to apply through to the Early Learning Programs and Policies topic. Similarly, researchers who are interested increasing highly mobile students’ access to, persistence in, progress through, and completion of postsecondary education are invited to apply through the Postsecondary and Adult Education Research topic. 

IES also encourages researchers to partner with local school districts or state education agencies to carry out initial research on highly mobile students and develop a plan for future research. This can be done through the Researcher-Practitioner Partnerships in Education Research topic.

For more information about funding opportunities for research on highly mobile students, please visit the IES website or contact Katina Stapleton.

For examples of previously funded research on highly mobile students, see  Promoting Executive Function to Enhance Learning in Homeless/Highly Mobile Children, Developing a Model for Delivering School-Based Mentoring to Students in Military Families, and Students in Foster Care: The Relationship between Mobility and Educational Outcomes.

Written by Katina Stapleton, Education Research Analyst, NCER; Program Officer, Systemic Approaches to Educating Highly Mobile Students

Photo of Dr. Biden courtesy of AERA

A New Focus on Arts Education Research

(UPDATED) The arts are a topic of much discussion and debate among education practitioners and policymakers as school districts work to help students meet high standards with limited resources.  

Certainly, advocates point to many benefits for students who participate in the arts, such as improved creativity, communication, and innovation; higher engagement in school; and a positive effect on academic outcomes, including reading and math achievement, high school completion, and college enrollment.

While there is generally broad support for the arts, there is a lack of rigorous, independent research that can identify and develop promising programs and rigorously assess the effect of arts participation on education outcomes. For example, research is needed to:

  • Explore how factors such as type, duration, intensity, and quality of arts programming affect student education outcomes;
  • Identify the most effective ways to incorporate the arts to ensure the broadest impact on student achievement in other academic areas (i.e., math, science, reading, and writing); and
  • Rigorously test the effects of existing arts programs on a variety of student education outcomes, identify factors that influence these effects, and assess how these effects compare for diverse groups of students. 

To begin answering these, and other important questions about the arts in schools, the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) is competing grants in a special topic, Arts in Education. We are encouraging applications that address important research questions and provide evidence and resources on which to base decisions about arts education.

On May 4, 2016, the IES program officers, Dr. James Benson and Dr. Erin Higgins, participated in a webinar on the grant competition, which was offered by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Interagency Task Force on the Arts and Human Development. A video of the webinar is available on the NEA website or can be viewed on NEA's YouTube site.

For more information about the Arts in Education topic, visit the IES website.  

Written by Erin Higgins and James Benson, Education Research Analysts, NCER

UPDATED MAY 6: Updated to reflect that the webinar has already been held and provide link to video.

IES Funded Researchers Receive Awards at AERA

The annual American Educational Research Association (AERA) conference is a great opportunity for thousands of researchers, practitioners, and policymakers to learn from one another and make connections that will help improve education. It is also a chance to celebrate and honor those who are doing outstanding work in the education research field. This year’s conference, held April 8-12, was no exception.

Among the AERA award winners who were honored this week are five people who have received funding from the Institute of Education Sciences (IES)—Michelene Chi, Douglas and Lynn Fuchs, Andrew Porter, and Daniel Schwartz.

Douglas and Lynn Fuchs received the 2014 “Distinguished Contributions to Research in Education Award,” which AERA describes as the premier acknowledgment of outstanding achievement and success in education research. The winner of this award gives a presentation at the annual conference. The Fuchs’ (pictured right) gave their presentation this year, which was entitled “The Changing Counterfactual in Schools and Classrooms: Implications for Educational Research. They are currently leading an IES research initiative, Improving Reading and Mathematics Outcomes for Students with Learning Disabilities: Next Generation Intensive Interventions.

The 2015 Distinguished Contributions winner, Andrew Porter (pictured left), also gave his address this week, entitled Standards-Based Reforms: Its Implementation and Effects. His most recent IES funding is to stand up a new Research and Development Center, the Center on Standards, Alignment, Instruction and Learning (C-SAIL).

In a recent post on the Inside IES Research blog, Dr. Porter discussed the work of C-SAIL , which seeks to deepen the understanding of the impact that college- and career-readiness standards are having on student outcomes. 

The 2016 winner of the Distinguished Contribution to Research in Education Award is Michelene Chi, who is also an IES-funded principal investigator (PI). She will give her award address at next spring’s AERA conference in San Antonio.

Through an IES-funded grant, Dr. Chi (pictured right) is actively seeking to bring principles of learning from cognitive science into the hands of teachers so that their instruction can transform student learning.

Daniel Schwartz, who has spent his career bringing principles of learning from cognitive science into the classroom, received the 2015 Sylvia Scribner Award, which honors current research that represents a significant advancement in our understanding of learning and instruction. Dr. Schwartz (pictured left) delivered his award address at this week’s AERA meeting. His current IES project is seeking to create a set of principles to select problem sets for students in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) domains.

You can learn more about the AERA awards on their website. Congratulations to all the winners! 

Photo Credits: Douglas and Lynn Fuchs, Vanderbilt University; Andrew Porter, University of Pennsylvania; Michelene Chi, Arizona State University; Daniel Schwartz, Stanford University

By Elizabeth Albro, Associate Commissioner, NCER

The Institute of Education Sciences at AERA

The American Educational Research Association (AERA) will hold its annual meeting April 8 through April 12 in Washington, D.C.—the largest educational research gathering in the nation. This will be a special meeting for AERA, as it is celebrating 100 years of advocating for the development and use of research in education. The program includes hundreds of sessions, including opportunities to learn about cutting edge education research and opportunities to broaden and deepen the field. 

About 30 sessions will feature staff from the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) discussing IES-funded research, evaluation, and statistics, as well as training and funding opportunities.

On Saturday, April 9, at 10:35 a.m., attendees will have a chance to meet the Institute’s leadership and hear about the areas of work that IES will be focusing on in the coming year. Speakers include Ruth Curran Neild, IES’ delegated director, and the leaders of the four centers in IES: Thomas Brock, commissioner of the National Center for Education Research (NCER); Peggy Carr, acting commissioner of the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES); Joy Lesnick, acting commissioner of the National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance (NCEE), and Joan McLaughlin, commissioner of the National Center for Special Education Research (NCSER).

On Monday, April 11, at 9:45 a.m., attendees can speak to one of several IES staffers who will be available at the Research Funding Opportunities—Meet Your Program Officers session. Program officers from NCER, NCSER, and NCEE will be on hand to answer questions about programs and grant funding opportunities. Several IES representatives will also be on hand Monday afternoon, at 4:15 p.m. for the Federally Funded Data Resources: Opportunities for Research session to discuss the myriad datasets and resources that are available to researchers.

NCES staff will lead sessions and present on a variety of topics, from The Role of School Finance in the Pursuit of Equity (Saturday, 12:25 p.m.) to Understanding Federal Education Policies and Data about English Learners (Sunday, April 10, 8:15 a.m.) and what we can learn from the results of PIAAC, a survey of adult skills (also Sunday, 8:15 a.m.). Dr. Carr will be a part of several sessions, including one on Sunday morning (10:35 a.m.) about future directions for NCES longitudinal studies and another on Monday morning (10 a.m.) entitled Issues and Challenges in the Fair and Valid Assessment of Diverse Populations in the 21st Century

On Monday, at 11:45 a.m., you can also learn about an IES-supported tool, called RCT-YES, that is designed to reduce barriers to rigorous impact studies by simplifying estimation and reporting of study results (Dr. Lesnick will be among those presenting). And a team from the IES research centers (NCER/NCSER) will present Sunday morning (10:35 a.m.) on communication strategies for disseminating education research (which includes this blog!).

IES staff will also participate in a number of other roundtables and poster sessions. For instance, on Tuesday, April 12, at 8:15 a.m., grab a cup of coffee and attend the structured poster session with the Institute’s 10 Regional Educational Laboratories (RELs). This session will focus on building partnerships to improve data use in education.  REL work will also be featured at several other AERA sessions.  

Did you know that the National Library of Education (NLE) is a component of IES? On Friday and Monday afternoon, attendees will have a unique opportunity to go on a site visit to the library. You’ll learn about the library’s current and historical resources – including its collection of more than 20,000 textbooks dating from the mid-19th century. The Library offers information, statistical, and referral services to the Department of Education and other government agencies and institutions, and to the public.

If you are going to AERA, follow us on Twitter to learn more about our sessions and our work.  And if you are tweeting during one of our sessions, please include @IESResearch in your tweet. 

By Dana Tofig, Communications Director, IES