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National Board for Education Sciences
January 23-24, 2007 Minutes of Meeting
January 23rd   January 24th

January 23rd, 2007

Location:
Springwood Room
The Washington Court Hotel
525 New Jersey Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20001

Members Present:
Jonathan Baron
Beth Ann Bryan
Robert Granger, Chairman
Philip Handy
Eric A. Hanushek
Caroline M. Hoxby
Richard Milgram
Craig T. Ramey
Sally E. Shaywitz
Herbert J. Walberg

Members Absent:
Carol D'Amico
Jerry Lee
Joseph Torgesen

Ex Officio Members Present:
Grover J. Whitehurst, Director, IES
Phoebe H. Cottingham, Commissioner, National Center for Education Evaluation
Lynn Okagaki, Commissioner, National Center for Education Research
Edward J. Kame'enui, Commissioner, National Center for Special Education
Mark Schneider, Commissioner, National Center for Education Statistics
Duane Alexander, M.D., Director, National Institute for Child Health and Human Development
Philip M. Doyle, delegate of the Director, Bureau of Labor Statistics

Designated Federal Official: Mary Grace Lucier

IES Staff Present:
Sue Betka, Deputy for Administration and Policy, IES
Amy Feldman
Mike Bowler
Ellie McCutcheon
Ann Ricciuti

Members of the Public Present:
Andrea Browning, Society for Research in Child Development
James Kohlmoos, National Education Knowledge Industry Association
Lin Liu, OMB
Sara Sparks, Ed Daily
Debra Viadero, EdWeek

The Chairman called the meeting to order at 2 p.m. He called for a motion to approve the minutes of the last meeting; the minutes were approved along with the present meeting's agenda. The Chairman noted that his two-year term as chair was about to expire, and that due to the mounting demands on his time as president of a small foundation, he did not wish to be considered for a second term as chair.

Report of the Executive Director
Sonia Chessen, who served as the Board's executive director until January 5, 2007, reported to the Board on her activities since the September 2006 meeting, which included discussions with Congressional staff members on numerous topics such as the evaluation of IES and the reauthorizations of the No Child Left Behind Act and the Education Sciences Reform Act. She expressed her appreciation for the opportunity to have worked with the Board and for the decorative bowl presented to her for her efforts as the inaugural executive director.

Report of the IES Director
Dr. Whitehurst expressed his thanks to Dr. Granger and Mrs. Chessen for their respective tenures and contributions to the success of IES.

He then summarized the recent accomplishments of the agency. In light of the need to connect the work of IES with the needs of educators, practitioners, and policymakers, there was formed the Urban Education Research Task Force, which had its first meeting early in January. IES presented to the task force information about 149 current research and evaluation projects and statistical projects related to urban education. These projects, while numerous, were weak with respect to approaches and research on systemic, large-scale issues in urban education. Another shortcoming, particularly in light of the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act, was the failure to collect evidence from the success or failure of reform efforts, thereby hampering the approach to continuous improvement. IES and the Task Force will be looking for opportunities to work together to meet the needs of urban educators.

IES has completed its timetable for receipt of grant applications for 2007. These applications will proceed to the peer review panels and subsequently generate research funding for three to five years in 20 topical areas.

The What Works Clearinghouse will soon produce a number of Practice Guides, based on the protocols that have been developed in health care. Topics will include cognitive principles of instruction, adolescent literacy, and dropout prevention.

Dr. Whitehurst along with Dr. Schneider, Commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics, has been involved in responses to the recommendations of the Spellings Commission on the Future of Higher Education with respect to the collection of post secondary data and providing that data to the public and policy makers.

Within the past year 10 regional educational laboratories have come online and are functioning; they have about 90 fast turnaround, quick response projects underway. The What Works Clearinghouse has released 27 intervention reports since the last meeting of the Board. Finally, he advised the Board that the Administration's budget for IES should be released in about one week.

Focusing on the agency's research dissemination goals, Dr. Whitehurst said the research goal was to develop products, programs, and practices that affect student achievement. The dissemination goal was to provide information that influences decisions about which programs and practices to choose and how to implement them. There would also be long-term measurable outcomes for both of these goals. A discussion ensued as to the definition and measurement of progress both in NIH and IES.

Presentation of Alex Nock, Executive Director, Commission on No Child Left Behind
Although the Commission had not yet put out its report, Mr. Nock described the Commission as a bipartisan, independent body designed to examine what is working under the NCLB statute and what isn't working as the law intended, such as regulations, guidance, implementation and so forth. Its "big picture" goals are how to get all students to proficiency and how to turn around struggling schools, issues at the forefront of NCLB.

An issue of pressing concern at the Commissions hearings around the country was teacher quality and how that is or is not leveraging positive change; how to assess students' annual yearly progress; the achievement of children with disabilities and language deficits; college and workplace readiness. Research is helping to answer many questions, but people are not getting the answers they need to support reform on a wide scale. The Commission's report will propose a blueprint for reauthorization of NCLB, but it welcomes other ideas that complement its findings.

After extended discussion on NCLB-related issues, the meeting adjourned at 4:12 p.m.

January 24th, 2007

Location:
Springwood Room
The Washington Court Hotel
525 New Jersey Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20001

Members Present:
Jonathan Baron
Beth Ann Bryan
Carol D'Amico (by teleconference)
Robert Granger, Chairman
Philip Handy
Eric A. Hanushek
Caroline M. Hoxby
Jerry Lee
Richard Milgram
Craig Ramey
Sally E. Shaywitz
Joseph K. Torgesen (by teleconference)
Herbert J. Walberg

Ex Officio Members Present:
Grover J. Whitehurst, Director, IES
Phoebe H. Cottingham, Commissioner, National Center for Education Evaluation
Edward J. Kame'enui, Commissioner, National Center for Special Education
Mark Schneider, Commissioner, National Center for Education Statistics
Duane Alexander, M.D., Director, National Institute for Child Health and Human Development

Executive Director: Sonia Chessen

Designated Federal Official: Mary Grace Lucier

IES Staff Present:
Sue Betka, Deputy for Administration and Policy
Mike Bowler
Amy Feldman
Ellie McCutcheon
Anne Ricciuti

Members of the Public Present:
Andrea Browning, SRCD
Connie Citro, CNSTAT/NAS
Kim Krocker, CEC
Gerald Sroufe, AERA

The Chairman called the open session to order at 10:30 a.m. He announced that the Board elected Craig Ramey as its new chair for a two-year term and re-elected Phil Handy as vice chair and extended his congratulations to both. The new chair will be directing the search for a new executive director. Ms. Bryan expressed thanks to Dr. Granger on behalf of the Board for his leadership as the founding chair.

Remarks of Martha Snyder, Senior Policy Advisor, Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development, U.S. Department of Education
Ms. Snyder's topic was the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act, which was officially announced by the President at the State of the Union message the previous evening as his first domestic priority. The title of the reauthorization is Building on Results, a Blueprint for Strengthening the No Child Left Behind Act. The reauthorization upholds the basic principles of NCLB, such as 100% proficiency by 2013-14, annual assessments and disaggregation of data, highly qualified teachers in every classroom, and timely information and options for parents. Rather than going forward with any version of national standards, the proposal envisions "transparency" through report cards and state assessments and eventually a database where the public can look across the nation and compare state standards. It also supports flexibility for innovation and improvement through the use of growth models and prioritized support for schools. Reauthorization expects to expand the focus of the law to middle and high school students, and to provide extra funding for high schools. Other programs that would be started or expanded include the Teacher Incentive Fund, the Math Now proposal, Striving Readers, and Reading First. There are provisions for a School Improvement Fund and for school choice through public and private scholarships.

Ms. Snyder addressed questions from the members with regard to the role of research, longitudinal studies, teacher quality, and the development of data systems that will support a policy that uses growth as the primary indicator. Other concerns discussed included tying flexibility to evaluation and data gathering, supplemental educational services, the need for a strategy of research evaluation would fit into plans for accountability, and proper auditing of evaluation.

Discussion of The Evaluation of Effectiveness of IES in Carrying out Its Priorities and Mission.
Chairman's Summary: NBES, as part of its five-year reporting requirement, will prepare a report on the effectiveness of the Institute in fulfilling its priorities and mission. This report will also inform the reauthorization of the Education Sciences Reform Act. A procurement process is underway for an evaluation contract that would address those considerations. The evaluation contractor would work IES staff to identify indicators of IES' longer-term objectives so that useful data could be gathered to allow assessments to be outcome driven over time. A Statement of Work has been prepared and the Contracts Review Board has reviewed and approved the procurement.

Ms. Chessen and Mr. Baron attended presentations by a number of firms experienced in this type of work and expressed their confidence that a suitable firm would be invited to submit a proposal. Amy Feldman and Ricky Takai of the National Center for Education Evaluation would participate in the internal review process. Mr. Baron would be the lead person from the Board and chair of an ad hoc committee, including Dr. Ramey, to review the proposal and make recommendations based on the review. Other members were encouraged to participate in the review of the proposal.

Report on Postsecondary Longitudinal Data Collection
Dr. Mark Schneider, Commissioner, National Center for Education Statistics, gave a presentation on efforts to improve IPEDS, the integrated post-secondary education data system, the premier data collection system in the Federal government for information about post-secondary education. The system as it is now configured fits the experience of only 25% of today's college students, making for serious disjunctions in graduation rates and student completion rates. In addition, the first-time, full time degree program student cohort does not capture the experience of the majority of community college students who are part-time. Another problem has to do with financial data, as for example, in the difference between the "sticker price" the institutions post and the out of pocket price that individuals actually pay in any given year.

To remedy these disjunctions, he proposed a system based on individual level student data that would improve institutional accountability and provide consumers, students, and families with better information about prices and institutional performance. Such a system would create challenges in protecting individual privacy, which he suggested might be solved by the use of a "trusted third party" who would make sure that data on individuals would not "leak" into the world by creating a new identifier that is not trackable to a specific individual. In this way, NCES would be able to create longitudinal data, track students over time and across institutions and states. Congressional action would be necessary to put such a system in place and pay for it.

Annual Ethics Update
This was presented to the members by Karen Dalheim, Ethics Division, Office of the General Counsel.

Committee Reports:
The Chairman brought up for reconsideration a motion concerning the National Center for Education Statistics, which had been passed at the previous meeting with the understanding that the background section would be edited to reflect the Board's discussion at that time. The edit provoked debate and differences of opinion, so the Chairman offered Dr. Hanushek, who proposed the original motion, the opportunity to restate the motion. The new motion, which was seconded, stated:

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) should focus its resources on the collection and timely release of statistical data and that it should not publish or commission research studies that could reasonably be interpreted as attempting to explore the causal effects of policy variables.

After extensive discussion and analysis of the implications of the motion, the Chairman called the question. The motion failed by a vote of 6 to 5.

The Chairman then introduced a motion that would clarify the process for editing background information for resolutions:

Background information for resolutions passed by the National Board for Education Sciences may be edited following a meeting to reflect changes agreed to during the meeting. The Board's chair will make the final decision on any edits.

Mr. Lee seconded the motion. The vote was called for and the motion passed unanimously.

The Board heard the following committee reports:

NCSER
Dr. Shaywitz reported on her discussion with the Commissioner, Ed Kame'enui, and complimented him on the progress the Center has made over the past years and the increased profile it hopes to have in the What Works Clearinghouse. Areas that will see increased attention and resources are high schools and especially high school students with behavioral problems. Dr. Shaywitz wished to have it noted for the record the Committee's continuing appreciation of the excellent work of Dr. Kame'enui.

NCER
Dr. Milgram praised the work of the Commissioner, Lynn Okagaki, in organizing the structure of NCER, but noted that the research portfolio is somewhat unbalanced, due to the nature of the applications. People have experienced difficulties in navigating through the web page. NCER needs access to more effective advisors in developing their RFA's and enlarging their scope, items which may be the subject of future resolutions.

NCES
Mr. Baron alerted the Board that a series of "blockbuster" reports would be coming out of the Center over the next two years. The Committee would like to consider prior to the next board meeting a possible recommendation to the Congress and the Department on how to incentivize their grantees to adopt evidence-based interventions as identified by the What Works Clearinghouse and other sources and implement them effectively. The Committee had made some progress in discussions with Hill staff on designating IES as the lead agency for Congressionally authorized evaluations.

Chairman Granger expressed pride in the positive work that the Board had done to date on such topics as priorities and peer review and thanked the members for their cooperation and collegiality. He would relinquish the chair with satisfaction in the group's accomplishments so far and looked forward to working with Craig Ramey, the new chair, and with Phil Handy, vice chair.

The Chairman adjourned the meeting at 2:00 pm.

* The National Board for Education Sciences is a Federal advisory committee chartered by Congress, operating under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA); 5 U.S.C., App. 2). The Board provides advice to the Director on the policies of the Institute of Education Sciences. The findings and recommendations of the Board do not represent the views of the Agency, and this document does not represent information approved or disseminated by the Department of Education.