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arrowOverview of IES Research and Research Training Grant Programs

The Institute of Education Sciences (IES) funds research that contributes to improved education outcomes for all learners, 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| Research Grants Focused on Systematic Replications

  • 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 education level. In the infancy and preschool period, the outcomes of interest are those that enhance readiness for schooling (for example, language skills) and developmental outcomes for infants and toddlers with disabilities. In kindergarten through 12th grade, learning, achievement, and higher order thinking in the academic outcomes of reading, writing, and STEM; English language proficiency; and progression through education systems as indicated by course and grade completion, retention, high school graduation, and dropout 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 postsecondary level, the focus is on access to, persistence in, progress through, and completion of postsecondary education, which includes developmental education courses and bridge programs as well as programs that lead to occupational certificates or associate's or bachelor's degrees; and learning, achievement, and higher-order thinking in postsecondary courses. The same outcomes are emphasized for students with disabilities across each of these education levels and include the functional outcomes that improve educational results and transition outcomes that support employment, independent living, and postsecondary education. The acquisition of basic skills in reading, writing, English language proficiency, and mathematics by adults with low levels of education is also a priority, as is their access to, persistence in, progress through, and completion of adult education courses and programs.

    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 (such as how a program is implemented) that influence variation in their effectiveness. IES is particularly interested in curricula, instructional practices, assessment, 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).

    • Improving Education Systems
    • Postsecondary and Adult Education
    • Reading and Writing
    • Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education
    • 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 Instruction
    • English Learners


    IES has 12 special education research programs:

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


    Across these research programs, IES supports projects to: (a) identify relationships between individual-, educator-, school-, and policy-level characteristics and education outcomes, and factors outside of education settings that may influence or guide these relationships; (b) develop and pilot test new or revised education interventions that are intended to produce beneficial impacts on learner outcomes; (c) evaluate the efficacy of fully-developed programs, practices, and policies; (d) replicate the efficacy of fully-developed programs, practices, and policies; and (e) develop and validate new assesments, or refine and validate existing assessments, for specific purposes, contexts, and populations.

  • Research Training Programs

    The IES 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 assessments. 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 IES research grant competitions.

    The IES research training grant programs are

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

  • Statistical and Research Methodology in Education
    The mission of IES, 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, IES 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 IES funds.
  • Partnerships and Collaborations Focused on Problems of Practice or Policy
    Through the Collaborations Program IES seeks to improve the quality of education for all learners 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:
    • Continuous Improvement Research in Education
    • Evaluation of State and Local Education Programs and Policies
    • Researcher-Practitioner Partnerships in Education Research
  • National Research and Development Centers and Special Education Research and Development Centers
    IES supports research and development centers (R&D Centers) to contribute 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, education outcomes. Each R&D Center conducts a focused program of research in its topic area. In addition, each R&D Center works cooperatively with IES to conduct supplemental research within its broad topic area and provide national leadership in advancing evidence-based practice and policy. Competitions for new R&D Centers are held on an irregular basis.
  • 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.
    • Expanding the Evidence Base for Career and Technical Education Network
    • Multi-Tiered Systems of Support Network
    • Scalable Strategies to Support College Completion Network
    • Supporting Early Learning From Preschool Through Early Elementary School Grades 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 education outcomes within a short period (for example, within a single semester or academic year). IES 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
  • Research Grants Focused on Systematic Replications
    IES provides scientific evidence to improve education practice and policy and shares that evidence in a way that can be used by educators, parents, policymakers, researchers, and the public. The National Center for Education Research (NCER) and National Center for Special Education Research (NCSER) have funded over 300 completed studies that have tested whether interventions improve the education outcomes of learners. While many of these interventions had positive outcomes, a large number have only been tested in a single geographical location, in a small number of settings, and/or with a limited variety of educators and learners. Additional evidence is needed to determine whether these interventions are effective for different populations and in different settings. Such evidence is critical to better understand the conditions under which such interventions will likely work and for whom.

    Under the Research Grants Focused on Systematic Replication and Research Grants Focused on Systematic Replication in Special Education competitions, IES will support systematic replication studies of IES-identified interventions that have produced beneficial effects on education outcomes in one or more prior IES-funded impact studies. Proposed replication studies will systematically vary at least one aspect of the prior impact study. The research will also investigate factors that may lead to and sustain successful implementation.