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January 2010

Around the Centers

IES to Launch Comprehensive ARRA Evaluation

IES is currently designing a series of evaluations of the education reforms carried out under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). This will involve studying and reporting on the implementation, outcomes, and impacts of ARRA education reform efforts. Contracts to carry out the initiatives over five years will be awarded by September 2010. A panel of distinguished scholars is helping to guide the overall effort, and met on November 16, 2009 to discuss the focus and methods of the planned evaluations.

The different studies will address how states and districts are using the stimulus money, policies formulated and programs implemented under ARRA, coordination across funding streams, and the impact of specific strategies on student outcomes.

They will include national surveys, experimental or quasi-experimental evaluations of specific models or strategies, analyses of NAEP and other existing outcome data, and case studies on school turn around and improvement. A variety of study reports will be produced. The goals include providing frequent feedback to states, offering timely data internally within the Department of Education that allows for mid-course corrections, and producing policy-relevant information for the public on how ARRA was carried out and its effects.

"With this project, we are really putting our money where our mouth is, because this is going to be a test for us," said IES Director John Easton. "We want IES to be a key player in learning more about school improvement and communicating our findings in a compelling fashion to those who need to hear from us the most."

For information on key issues to be addressed, evaluation components, and key reporting features, visit

Director Easton Shares His Goals for IES

At a recent Board meeting of the National Board for Education Sciences, Director John Easton talked about changes he envisions for IES.

Read Director Easton's remarks at to learn more about these broad ideas, which he would like "to see move IES" over his term as Director.

Surge in FY2010 Grant Applications

Since last June, our Standards and Review Office has been very busy handling the processing and scientific peer review of applications to the Institute's FY2010 research, research and development center, and research training program grant competitions.

Across these competitions, we received a total of 1,633 applications, which represents a 54 percent increase relative to the number of applications received last year, and is the largest number of applications that IES has ever received.

This past fall, responsive applications that were submitted to our June deadline date were scientifically reviewed by 16 review panels comprising 288 external reviewers. This was twice the number of panels that reviewed last fall, and 40 percent more panels than IES has ever run at one time. The applications to our October deadline date are currently being processed, and will be reviewed early this year.

In addition, the Standards and Review Office is working on the processing and external peer review of the applications submitted to IES' Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 competition. Those applications will also be reviewed early this year.

This has clearly been a very busy time for the Standards and Review Office, and we wish to extend our heartfelt appreciation to all of our external reviewers and everyone who works with us in this effort—we couldn't do it without you!

For more information about the grant competition, visit,, and For more information about the peer review process, visit