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arrowOverview of IES Research and Research Training Grant Programs

The Institute of Education Sciences' overarching priority is research that contributes to improved academic achievement for all students, and particularly for those whose education prospects are hindered by inadequate education services and conditions associated with poverty, race/ethnicity, limited English proficiency, disability, and family circumstance.

The Institute supports the following research and research training programs:

Education and Special Education Research Programs| Research Training Programs| Statistical and Research Methodology in Education| Partnerships and Collaborations Focused on Problems of Practice or Policy| National Research and Development Centers and Special Education Research and Development Centers| Research Networks Focused on Critical Problems of Education and Special Education Policy and Practice| Low-Cost, Short-Duration Evaluation of Education and Special Education Interventions

  • Education and Special Education Research Programs
    Across its education and special education research programs, the Institute has established programs of research that focus on outcomes that differ by periods of education. In the infancy and preschool period, the outcomes of interest are those that enhance readiness for schooling (e.g., language skills) and developmental outcomes for infants and toddlers with disabilities. In kindergarten through 12th grade, the core academic outcomes of reading and writing (including reading and writing in the disciplines), mathematics, and science are emphasized, as well as the behaviors and social skills that support learning in school and successful transitions to employment, independent living, and post-secondary education. At the post-secondary level, the focus is on enrollment in and completion of programs that prepare students for successful careers and lives. The same outcomes are emphasized for students with disabilities across each of these periods, and include the functional outcomes that improve educational and transitional results. The acquisition of basic skills by adults with low levels of education is also a priority.

    In conducting research on academic outcomes, the Institute concentrates on conditions within the control of the education system, with the aim of identifying, developing, and validating effective education programs, practices, policies, and approaches as well as understanding the factors that influence variation in their effectiveness such as implementation. Conditions that are of highest priority to the Institute are in the areas of curriculum, instruction, assessment (including the identification of students with disabilities), the quality of the education workforce, and the systems and policies that affect these conditions and their interrelationships (for example, accountability systems, delivery mechanisms including technology, and policies that support the ability of parents to improve educational results for their children through such means as choice of education services and provision of school-related learning opportunities in the home).

    The Institute's 13 education research programs are

    • Improving Education Systems
    • Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education
    • Postsecondary and Adult Education
    • Reading and Writing
    • Social and Behavioral Context for Academic Learning
    • Special Topics
    • Career and Technical Education
    • Cognition and Student Learning
    • Early Learning Programs and Policies
    • Education Technology
    • Effective Teachers and Effective Teaching
    • English Learners
    • Education Leadership


    The Institute's 12 long-term special education research programs are

    • Reading, Writing, and Language Development
    • Social and Behavioral Outcomes to Support Learning
    • Special Education Policy, Finance, and Systems
    • Technology for Special Education
    • Transition Outcomes for Secondary Students with Disabilities
    • Special Topics
    • Autism Spectrum Disorders
    • Cognition and Student Learning in Special Education
    • Early Intervention and Early Learning in Special Education
    • Families of Children with Disabilities
    • Mathematics and Science Education
    • Professional Development for Teachers and School-Based Service Providers

    Across these research programs, the Institute supports projects to: (a) explore relations among variables in order to identify malleable factors predictive of achievement and potentially amenable to intervention, practices that are associated with student outcomes, or factors and conditions that may mediate or moderate the relations between student outcomes and these programs and practices; (b) develop programs, practices, and policies that are theoretically and empirically based; (c) evaluate the efficacy of fully developed programs, practices, and policies; (d) evaluate the impact of programs, practices, and policies implemented at scale; and (e) develop and validate new measurement systems and tools or validate existing measurement instruments.

  • Research Training Programs

    A number of recent reports have described current education practice as not resting on a solid research base. Instead, policy and practice decisions are often guided by personal experience, folk wisdom, and ideology. Grounding education policy and practice in the United States on evidence will require transformation of both the research and practice fields. Practitioners will have to turn routinely to education research when making important decisions, and education researchers will have to produce research that is relevant to those decisions. To achieve this ambitious agenda, there is a need for a cadre of well-trained scientists capable of conducting high quality research that is relevant to practitioners and policy makers.

    The Institute's training programs aim to increase the supply of scientists and researchers in education and special education who are prepared to conduct rigorous evaluation studies, develop and evaluate new products and approaches that are grounded in a science of learning, and design and validate tests and measures. The specific intent of these programs is to prepare researchers who are able to prepare competitive proposals that address relevant education and special education topics and meet the methodological requirements specified for the Institute's research grant competitions.

    The Institute's research training grant programs are

    • Methods Training for Education Researchers
    • Methods Training Using Single Case Designs
    • Methods Training Using Sequential, Multiple Assignment, Randomized Trial (SMART) Designs for Adaptive Interventions in Education
    • Pathways to the Education Sciences Research Training Program
    • Postdoctoral Research Training Program in the Education Sciences
    • Postdoctoral Research Training Programs in Special Education
    • Predoctoral Interdisciplinary Research Training Programs in the Education Sciences
    • Early Career Development and Mentoring
    • Training in Education Research Use and Practice

  • Statistical and Research Methodology in Education
    The mission of the Institute, broadly speaking, is to provide rigorous evidence on which to ground education practice and policy and to encourage its use. Critical to achieving this mission is providing education scientists with the tools they need to conduct rigorous applied research. To that end, the Institute provides support through the Statistical and Research Methodology grant program and the Early Career Statistical and Research Methodology grant program to develop new approaches, to extend and improve existing methods and to create other tools that would enhance the ability of researchers to conduct the types of research that the Institute funds.
  • Partnerships and Collaborations Focused on Problems of Practice or Policy
    Through the Collaborations Program the Institute seeks to improve the quality of education for all students through advancing the understanding of and practices for teaching, learning, and organizing education systems. This research is to be done in through close collaboration with practitioners and policymakers through the partnering of researchers with U.S. State and local education agencies. The partnerships established under the Collaborations Program are intended to increase the responsiveness of the research through the required inclusion of education agencies as partners from the start of the work with the identification of the research questions, design of the project, carrying out of the research, and adoption and dissemination of the results. Grants are to be provided under three topics:
    • Researcher-Practitioner Partnerships in Education Research
    • Continuous Improvement Research in Education
    • Evaluation of State and Local Education Programs and Policies
  • National Research and Development Centers and Special Education Research and Development Centers
    The Institute supports research and development centers (Centers) that are intended to contribute significantly to the solution of education problems in the United States by engaging in research, development, evaluation, and national leadership activities aimed at improving the education system, and ultimately, student achievement. Each research and development center conducts a focused program of research in its topic area. In addition, each Center works cooperatively with the Institute to conduct supplemental research within its broad topic area and provide national leadership in advancing evidence-based practice and policy within its topic area. Competitions for new Centers are held on an irregular basis. The Institute posts notices of competitions for new Centers in the Federal Register. Interested applicants are also encouraged to subscribe to the IES Newsflash to receive information about future competitions.
  • Research Networks Focused on Critical Problems of Education and Special Education Policy and Practice
    The purpose of this program is to focus resources and attention on education problems or issues that are high priority for the nation, and to create both a structure and process for researchers who are working on these issues to share ideas, build new knowledge, and strengthen their research and dissemination capacity. Each network will consist of several research teams that are working on a similar topic, and a Network Lead who coordinates and supports network activities. The ultimate objective of the networks is to advance the field's understanding of a problem or issue beyond what an individual research project or team is able to do on its own, and to assist policymakers and practitioners in using this information to strengthen education policies and programs and improve student education outcomes.
    • Supporting Early Learning From Preschool Through Early Elementary School Grades Network
    • Scalable Strategies to Support College Completion Network
    • Multi-Tiered Systems of Support Network
    • Expanding the Evidence Base for Career and Technical Education Network
  • Low-Cost, Short-Duration Evaluation of Education and Special Education Interventions
    The Low-Cost, Short-Duration Evaluation grant programs are designed to support rigorous evaluations of education interventions (broadly defined as practices, programs, and policies) that state or local education agencies expect to produce meaningful improvements in student education outcomes within a short period (for example, within a single semester or academic year). The Institute also supports low-cost, short-duration evaluations of education interventions for children and youth with or at risk for disability. Funding is available under two grant programs:
    • Low-Cost, Short-Duration Evaluation of Education Interventions
    • Low-Cost, Short-Duration Evaluation of Special Education Interventions