September 1, 2012
Ruth Curran Neild Named Commissioner of the National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance (NCEE), effective September 1, 2012.
Ruth Curran Neild was named Commissioner for NCEE on September 1st by the Director of IES, John Q. Easton. "Ruth has been a superb Associate Commissioner and will bring her steady guidance and creative leadership to the Center," said Easton."
From January 2011 until her appointment as Commissioner, Dr. Neild served as the Associate Commissioner for NCEE's Knowledge Utilization division. In that capacity, she emphasized the importance of both technically excellent education research and its clear, engaging presentation for educators in user-friendly formats. Prior to joining NCEE, she was a Research Scientist at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Social Organization of Schools, where she worked on research projects that ranged from descriptive and correlational to studies of impact. She also served on the standing faculty of the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Education.
Neild is succeeding Rebecca Maynard, who is returning to the University of Pennsylvania. "Ruth is a fantastic choice for this position," said Maynard. "She brings to the job not only years of experience as a producer of highly policy relevant research, but also familiarity with and expertise in the full range of work that goes on in NCEE—from large-scale randomized controlled trials to the dissemination activities of the National Library of Education and ERIC. In the relatively short time Ruth has been at NCEE, she has demonstrated both vision for bringing more rigor and relevance to education research and an amazing talent for recruiting and mentoring staff to carry out the diversity of work that goes on in the center."
As Commissioner, she will oversee NCEE, one of four centers in the Institute of Education Sciences. NCEE helps educators and policy makers make informed decisions about education programs through the work of its two divisions: Evaluation, which conducts large-scale evaluations of federally funded education programs and practices, and Knowledge Utilization, which supports locally developed research and evaluation projects and technical assistance on data use through the ten Regional Educational Laboratories, and the synthesis and widespread dissemination of research through the What Works Clearinghouse, the National Library of Education, and the Education Resources Information Center (ERIC) online database.
Neild said, "Conducting rigorous research on topics of greatest concern to educators and policymakers remains a top priority of NCEE. At the same time, we seek to lead the field in how we communicate about research, including development of products that are user-friendly, engaging, and attuned to the needs of the target audience." Neild also cites as a priority the efficient and effective use of resources through greater coordination among NCEE programs and with other federal investments in education, such as the State Longitudinal Data Systems grant program and the Comprehensive Centers.
Neild's research has focused on the transition to ninth grade, high school dropout, school choice, and teacher qualifications and assignment. Much of her work has involved analysis of state and district longitudinal data sets, including merged cross-agency data. She has written both for scholarly journals and for broader audiences, including a widely cited study of high school completion and two reports on teacher qualifications in Philadelphia. She cites her involvement in Project U-Turn, a community collaborative with the goal of stemming high school dropout rates, as formative in her understanding of how research can yield fresh scholarly insights and enhanced relevance when researchers and practitioners work closely together.
The parent of an elementary school aged child, Neild reports that she is reminded on a daily basis of the importance to children's development of caring teachers and high-quality instruction.
Dr. Neild earned her A.B. in history and sociology summa cum laude from Bryn Mawr College and her Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Pennsylvania.