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National Board for Education Sciences
May 8-9, 2006 Minutes of Meeting
May 8th   May 9th

May 8, 2006

Location:
Room 100
80 F St., NW
Washington, DC 20208

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

Member Absent:
Carol A. D'Amico

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 Research
Mark Schneider, Commissioner, National Center for Education Statistics
Jean Vanski, delegate of Arden L. Bement, Jr., Director of the National Science Foundation
Robert Kominski, delegate of the Director of the Census

Executive Director: Sonia Chessen

Designated Federal Official: Mary Grace Lucier

IES Staff Present:
Sue Betka, Deputy for Administration and Policy, IES
Andrew White, Deputy for Science
Ricky Takai
Mike Bowler
Ellie McCutcheon
Susan Sanchez

Members of the Public Present:
Marcia Knutson, NEKIA
Larry Snowhite, HMCO
Debra Viadero, Ed Week
Steve Berlin, ED Daily
Chris Peterson, SRI
Allison Trepod, SRI
Patti Baran, ETS
E. Otunga, ETS
Mary Ann McCabe, SRCD
Gerald Sroufe, AERA
Kim Krocker, CEC
Frederic A. Mosher, CPRE

The Chairman called the meeting to order at 2 p.m. Director Whitehurst administered the oath of office to a new member, Craig Ramey. The roll was called and the presence of a quorum was established. The Chairman noted the resignations from the Board of James Davis, who took a position with the Department of Education in Dallas, Texas, on February 11, and Bobby Lopez, effective May 7. He welcomed the new member, Craig Ramey. The minutes of the previous meeting (January 23 and 24, 2006) were approved as submitted. The meeting agenda was approved.

The Chairman updated the members on staff changes in the agency, senior staff presentations at the American Educational Research Association annual meeting in San Francisco, and pending reauthorizations of No Child Left Behind and, in 2007, the Education Sciences Reform Act, for which the Board may wish to make recommendations.

Report of the Executive Director
Ms. Chessen mentioned that the Board would need to focus on two legislatively mandated reports to the Director, the Secretary of Education, and the appropriate Congressional committees: an annual report due on July 1, 2006, and a final report in 2007. She called on the members to decide how to proceed with collecting information that will inform these reports. She noted she would continue to contact policymakers, practitioners, and researchers on behalf of the Board in order to keep the Board apprised of developments and to advance the Board's agenda.

Report of the Director
Director Grover J. Whitehurst thanked the Board for providing support and guidance to IES, reviewing its work, and in so doing enhancing the quasi-independent nature of IES. His update covered:

  • A new logo to provide a more consistent appearance for IES products,
  • A new website that integrates all the agency's Centers,
  • The first IES-sponsored research conference on June 15 and 16 that is expected to draw 300 or more researchers, who will hear from speakers who are influencing public policy and practice.
  • Research competitions completed in 2006,
  • Research competitions announced for FY 2007 and attempts to reach out to new applicants,
  • Budget issues and new initiatives, such as the Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems grants,
  • Successful recompetition of the regional education laboratories,
  • Upcoming reports, such as the 2005 NAEP Science Assessment and the Condition of Education.

Dr. Whitehurst cited the establishment of the National Mathematics Panel, the Secretary's Commission on the Future of Higher Education, and a Global Literacy Conference in New York, coinciding with the UNESCO General Assembly Session. IES will be contributing to all of these initiatives.

Further announcements were that products from the regional educational laboratories would henceforth be subject to review by IES. The National Research and Development Centers will be setting aside, as a condition of receiving their cooperative agreement from IES, a portion of their budgets for dissemination of supplemental studies that will be designed to address practitioner needs. The What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) now has a section on character education programs and a new category entitled "Potentially Positive."

Further discussion ensued with the members on the WWC and the ratings it assigns to programs and studies.

Discussion with Michael Casserly
Dr. Whitehurst and Mr. Casserly discussed collaborative efforts they have undertaken since Mr. Casserly presented at the January meeting of the Board. They have agreed to establish an urban education research task force that will advise IES and the research community on issues important to urban districts. They and their respective staffs are meeting to arrange a package of activities and collaborations that would promote the use of good research by urban superintendents. A further suggestion was to establish a senior research fellows program, which is still in the conceptual stage, and to seek opportunities to do evaluations of popular policy prescriptions in a cross-district format. Members made suggestions on evaluations and obtaining objective and independent evidence of effectiveness. An additional topic was leadership and capacity building and new data collections.

The Chairman and the Executive Director brought up the possibility of an IES-NBES collaboration to hold briefings on topics of current interest and anticipated interest so as to provide a fast-response mechanism for getting research findings out to the field. After a number of questions and comments from Board members and some caveats regarding the implementation, the Chairman indicated there would be further consideration of the topic and adjourned the meeting at 5:15 p.m.

May 9, 2006

Location:
Room 100
80 F St., NW
Washington, DC 20208

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

Member Absent:
Carol D'Amico

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
Jean Vanski, delegate of Arden L. Bement, Jr., Director of the National Science Foundation

Executive Director: Sonia Chessen

Designated Federal Official: Mary Grace Lucier

IES Staff Present:
Andrew White, Deputy for Science
Ricky Takai
Sandra Garcia
Elizabeth Albro
John Jacobson
Mike Bowler
Ellie McCutcheon

Department of Education Staff Present:
Karen Dalheim, OGC

Members of the Public Present:
Paul Kimmelman, Learning Associates
Larry Snowhite, HMCO
Vaughan Lauer, ETS
Karen Studwell, APA
Steve Berlin, Ed Daily
Cheryl Sattler, Success for All
Andrea Browning, Society for Research in Child Development
E. Otunga, ETS
Debra Viadero, Ed Week
Kim Krocker, CEC
Fritz Mosher, CPRE
Denise McKeon, NEA
John Winn, Commissioner, Florida Board of Education
Valerie Woodruff, Secretary of Education, Delaware

The meeting was called to order at 9 a.m. The presence of a quorum was established. Chairman Granger acknowledged for the record the assistance provided to the Board between meetings by Mary Grace Lucier and Ellie McCutcheon. He indicated that the Board, having already approved priorities for the long-term goals of the Institute and the peer review process for grants and reports published by IES, will now be moving on to activities that will assist the Institute to address the needs of practitioners and policymakers. Today's meeting will turn its attention to the states with presentations from John Winn, Commissioner, Florida Board of Education, and Valerie Woodruff, Secretary of Education, Delaware, and current president of the Council of Chief State School Officers.

Dr. Winn was introduced by Vice Chairman Phil Handy.

Remarks of Commissioner John Winn
In Florida, policy development is based on the identification of needs, which is the most basic element of data analysis. Florida has a K-20 data warehouse -- prekindergarten through graduate school data is maintained in a single database, which allows for longitudinal tracking of students. Looking at data and asking questions is the most important starting point for any research activity. Research that does not answer questions that are at the state level is not helpful to policy makers.

No Child Left Behind has forced states, districts, and schools to use data as never before. Implementation of the legislation has raised questions about long-held assumptions such as the impact of differences in teacher pay and the value of advanced academic training. Florida follows best practices for teacher recruitment, but teacher retention is a critical and not well-understood issue at the state and the school levels.

There are also many questions about instructional technology. Technology companies claim their software is guaranteed to produce good results but it is not always clear that these claims are valid and how to use instructional technology in different settings.

In Florida there is an alignment of curriculum expectations and standards, but there is some concern about benchmarking against a system that may not be doing everything possible for students at particular levels to achieve proficiency.

Florida has put in place many incentives for achieving outcomes, and rather than micromanaging the process, the state lets the system work to meet them. So far this approach has been successful, but it would be helpful to know why some incentives work and some do not. With regard to teacher pay, it would be helpful to have a consistent measurement of teacher pay across the nation.

Remarks of Secretary Valerie Woodruff
Secretary Woodruff has been in her current role since July 1999. She noted her many conversations over the years with Congressman Michael N. Castle on the quality of research in education. She also noted that states have a responsibility for data collection and data systems and making information available. The advent of accountability for student achievement has created an urgent need for excellent research. No Child Left Behind has made it a requirement to tend to the needs of all students, which has not always been the case.

From her discussions with superintendents and principals and "people who are on the ground with all of this," she pointed to a number of needs that continue to stand out: understanding what works in teaching mathematics, reading, and science at the middle and high school levels. The issue is not simply engaging students to get them to proficiency, but getting them to pursue higher levels. Another need is reaching children who are English language learners. These students are overwhelming the schools and the teachers who want to help them. Research is insufficient in this area.

Secretary Woodruff suggested that there is a need to know what programs and practices are effective in reaching young adolescents. This middle-school level is where performance begins to slip and starts the student on the path to being a dropout.

The issue of children with disabilities presents another challenge, and practitioners need to know practical ways to meet their learning needs.

Finally, Secretary Woodruff urged a focus on doing what is best and right for students. As for policy, she declared that good data and research based on good data will provide a stronger basis for crafting policies than hunches and guesses and "what people think." She noted an obligation on the part of states to make their data available to researchers while at the same time protecting individual privacy.

There followed an extended exchange of questions and answers and commentary from the Board members, after which the Chairman thanked both speakers for their presentations.

Presentation and Discussion of IES Research in the Context of No Child Left Behind and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and Other Legislation
Dr. Whitehurst outlined some of the research functions that are identified or affected by the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation, which is up for reauthorization at the end of 2007, and the next reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

Dr. Whitehurst noted that compliance with NCLB is a matter of law and everyone is obliged to comply with the law. Thus IES cannot evaluate components of the law because there is no variation in its implementation. One change might be to create a demonstration authority that would remove the consequences for non-compliance, thus creating an opportunity for a comparative evaluation of a particular aspect of the law.

As for the ESEA, he suggested there is some value in having evaluations of Department programs carried out by IES with relative independence from the program offices. The law that established IES provides the agency with an independent publication authority, which allows for objectivity and impartiality. Legislation frequently calls for "independent evaluation" of programs the meaning of which is not always clear. The Department of Education complies with this requirement by contracting with an evaluator, which raises questions as to whether a contractor, who will have responsibilities and deliverables under the contract, can be truly independent in this arrangement.

A discussion ensued as to publication rights of the results of evaluations and research. IES is required to make available to the public all data collected through contracts while at the same time protecting individually identifiable information. IES is the only entity in the Department of Education that has statutory requirements with regard to the nature of the data it collects and making the data available to the public.

Dr. Ramey raised a question about criteria for high-quality archiving of the data. Dr. Whitehurst said there were standards in place but that they are applied variably across contract. Work is underway towards having a common set of data definitions and user's manual specifications that would apply to all IES contracts.

Dr. Whitehurst referred to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act and its provisions for student records. States under NCLB need access to data and there is confusion in the regulations and guidance as to who may have access under what conditions. There is a need for clarity and hope that the reauthorization process would address this issue.

Another suggested improvement would be to allow the Secretary or the IES director to combine the one-half of one percent set asides, which are "set aside" to evaluate authorized programs in the Department, into a pool which would allow an evaluation of one or two small programs. In the case of small programs, half of one percent is insufficient to carry out a useful evaluation. Further discussion ensued on types of evaluation studies, where in the Department they are carried out, and their functions. The Director suggested the desirability of a systematic planning process spanning a four or five-year period to improve coherence in the area of evaluations and to minimize gaps.

Ethics Training
During the lunch break, the Board had its annual review of the Standards of Ethical Conduct presented by Karen Dalheim of the Ethics Staff, Office of General Counsel.

Board Reporting Requirements
The Chairman directed the members' attention to two mandated types of reports and called on the Executive Director to discuss progress towards fulfilling these requirements. The first is the annual report to the Director, the Secretary, and the appropriate congressional committees, due no later than July 1, on the effectiveness of IES in carrying out its priorities and mission. The latter is a final report due in November 2007, five years after the establishment of IES, which would contain recommendations on actions that may be taken to enhance the ability of a reauthorized IES to carry out its priorities and mission.

Ms. Chessen said that work was underway on the first report assessing the accomplishments of IES in the areas of establishing priorities and peer review. A draft would go out to all members by June 1 for comments and review. The final approved report will be a public record and available on the Board website.

Ms. Chessen laid out a work plan for the 2007 reports, starting at the September meeting wherein members would discuss the contents, needed data collection activities, and possibly commissioning an outside expert to interview key stakeholders and examine how the work of IES is perceived in the field. This might yield a progress report in January and thereafter a draft in May to allow for due deliberation.

Members expressed some concern about timing of reports to suit the Congressional schedule, the data to be collected, who would contribute to the reports, and the various constituencies to be consulted with the goal of strengthening the agency's work. Dr. Walberg cited as a model the precedent of holding hearings in various parts of the country, such as were held by the National Assessment Governing Board and also the evaluation of the National Institute of Education in the 1980's. Mr. Baron preferred an approach that would focus on the staff and leadership of IES and making recommendations to Congress and the administration that would strengthen IES's position in the outside world. Dr. Ramey cautioned that attention would be paid to the quality of the process of collecting information. Ms. Bryan cautioned against too broad a scope that would simply "collect distress." Dr. Hanushek urged broader input to inform the Board's discussion.

The Chairman summarized the discussion and expressed the sense of the Board that there should be serious deliberation, concrete proposals to consider, and a definite focus. The Executive Director asked each member to consider the question of these reports over the summer and come up with some options and clear guidance on how to proceed. Dr. Whitehurst offered the suggestion that members keep in mind the audience for whom the reports are intended and thus avoid going down an unproductive path.

Reports of the Subcommittees
John Baron, convener of the subcommittee on the National Center for Education Evaluation, reported that the group would like to recommend as an agenda item for the September meeting that the Board consider recommendations to Congress to enhance IES's ability to carry out its mission in rigorous evaluation. The Board made a recommendation to the Congress in April urging that grantees be required to participate in a rigorous evaluation of their programs, including random assignment. That recommendation was included in the Appropriations Report and it has helped the Department to get grantees to agree to random assignment.

The group will develop a recommendation to be considered at the September meeting, namely, that Congress, in authorizing and evaluating and funding evaluations of programs in the U.S. Department of Education, designate IES as the lead organization for impact evaluations to ensure that they are rigorous and that they are carried out independently of the program office. In addition, the group would circulate a draft for consideration at the September meeting exploring other steps the Congress might take to advance rigorous evaluations and the adoption of evidence-based interventions by grant programs in the Department.

Dr. Hanushek, convener of the subcommittee on the National Center for Education Statistics, said the group spoke about data collection on teacher salaries and other areas where data collection of NCES might be improved. One of these is the entire post-secondary data collection.

Dr. Milgram, convener of the subcommittee on the National Center for Education Research, applauded the progress NCER has made under Commissioner Okagaki, especially as regards the breakout of the portfolio of grants into distinct areas. It would appear from the breakout that the portfolio was a result of the applications that came in, rather than being driven by the priorities of the administration or IES. The group wants to take a further look at how Requests for Applications (RFA's) are generated and to provide advice on sampling and design in the awarding of grants.

Dr. Shaywitz, convener of the subcommittee on the National Center for Special Education Research, spoke of the Center's initiatives linking research to practice, developing methodologies for screening and evaluation, and dropout prevention programs. Of particular interest was a focus on autism.

Prospective for Next Meeting
The Chairman listed a number of items to be considered for the September 2006 meeting:

  • Preparation of policy proposals for Board review
  • Interaction with senior practitioners or policy people about questions they consider important, and
  • Preparation of 2007 Reports.

The meeting was adjourned at 2 p.m.*

* 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.