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May 2010

Around the Centers

IES Director Makes Case for New Generation of Action-oriented Researchers at AERA Conference

Director John Q. Easton, Photo courtesy of American Educational Research AssociationDirector John Q. Easton, Photo courtesy
of American Educational Research

Visit Organization and Management of Schools and Districts for information on this new IES grant program.

During a presidential address at the AERA conference this month in Denver, IES Director John Q. Easton, in a talk titled "Out of the Tower, Into the Schools: How New IES Goals Will Reshape Researcher Roles," shared his vision of the new role and responsibility researchers need to embrace if they want their work to be relevant, and reviewed five goals that will shape IES during his next five years.

"We need to make more meaningful connections to schools that go FAR beyond gathering data and observing students and teachers," Easton said. "We need to spend time in schools talking with administrators and teachers before and after studies about the challenges they face; we need to reach out to policymakers; we need to collaborate with researchers outside our own expertise."

In addition to the goal of making research more relevant and useful to policy leaders and practitioners, Easton's other goals for IES are to: develop a greater understanding of how schools improve and become learning organizations; help states and school districts build the capacity to "make sense of an ocean of new data" as they use their longitudinal data, conduct research, and evaluate their programs; deepen the understanding of "teaching quality;" and train and inspire a new generation of researchers.

"We want to push these young researchers to ask more of the relevant questions that really matter to schools," Easton said. "We want to nurture researchers who are interested in advancing knowledge for the benefit of their discipline, but at the same time are eager to engage schools and practitioners and build long-term collaborations with school leaders that lead to lasting, meaningful improvement in student outcomes."

Read Dr. Easton's remarks. Besides Easton's talk, IES staff made presentations, chaired panels, and conducted training sessions at AERA. Staff presented on such topics as national and international assessments, NCES surveys, new NCES online data tools, career and technical education statistics, and IES funding opportunities.

Dr. Easton and IES staff also visited two Denver public schools—a high school that is rebuilding under a new autonomy model, and an elementary that is undergoing a transformation after being one of the lowest-performing in the district.

Grant Applications Update

Scientific peer review activities for IES' FY 2010 grant competitions are nearing an end. The Standards and Review Office processed a total of 1,633 applications submitted to IES' research competitions in June and October 2009. This number represents a 54 percent increase compared to the number of applications received last year, and is the largest number of applications IES has ever received. Over half of the applications were received for the October deadline, and those applications were scientifically reviewed by about 290 reviewers on 15 review panels this past February. In addition, applications submitted to IES' Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 competition were also reviewed by an expert panel in February.

We are currently preparing for the peer review of research grant applications that were submitted under a special April 2010 deadline. These applications were submitted under the National Center for Education Research's Evaluation of State and Local Programs and Policies competition, and propose to evaluate activities funded through Phase 1 or Phase 2 Race to the Top awards. They will be reviewed by an expert panel in June. The June peer review session will mark the end of FY 2010 research grant review activities, but preparations for the next round are already under way.

We extend a heartfelt, "Thank You!" to all of our external reviewers, whose efforts are so greatly appreciated.

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