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November 2010

From the Director's Office

Easton Travels to Australia, New Zealand to Participate in International School Reform Discussions

IES Director John Easton is joining a delegation of five senior U.S. education leaders for official visits to Australia and New Zealand this month, where he will visit schools and participate in roundtable discussions headlined by Australian Secretary of Education Lisa Paul and New Zealand Secretary of Education Karen Sewell.

The trip, part of an ongoing conversation within the international education community on school reform issues, will start with a one-day tour of Australian public schools followed by a discussion of teacher training programs at the University of Canberra on Nov. 15 and a two-day roundtable on Nov. 16 and 17. At the roundtable in Canberra, education officials from both countries will outline national education priorities and discuss how to use data to support teaching and learning.

Easton will be featured in three separate presentations during the roundtable discussions, which also will include remarks by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (via satellite), U.S. Deputy Secretary Tony Miller, and Australian Deputy Secretary of Schools Michele Bruniges. Teaching quality specialist Jo Anderson, director of international affairs Maureen McLaughlin, and international affairs specialist Rafael Nevarez from the U.S. Department of Education also will be participating in the discussions.

During the first day of the roundtable, Dr. Easton will talk about how to measure and compare student and school performance, and how to communicate that data with policy leaders, teachers and parents. He will also share his ideas on how to help teachers use performance data to diagnose their students' learning needs. On the second day, Easton will discuss how to measure the effectiveness of teachers and school leaders. The Australian roundtables will be held at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra, which is the seat of government in Australia.

After the Australian roundtables, the U.S. delegation will then travel to Wellington, New Zealand for discussions with New Zealand policymakers on Nov. 18 and 19. The first day will include visits to the New Zealand Parliament. The second day will feature small roundtable discussions with Easton discussing best practices in education research with a group of six senior New Zealand researchers and policymakers.

The New Zealand roundtables will be held at the Ministry of Education in Wellington. The U.S. group will complete their weeklong journey and return to the United States on November 20.

NBES Elects New Leadership, Approves New Research Priorities

The election of Jon Baron to the chair and Bridget Terry Long to the vice-chair of the National Board for Education Sciences (NBES) headlined a busy November meeting that also saw the final approval of IES's new research priorities.

The Nov. 1 meeting was the final meeting for outgoing Chair Eric Hanushek, who completes his 2-year term as chair and his second board term later this month. At the meeting, IES Director John Easton thanked Hanushek for his service and credited him for helping him with his transition to IES.

Baron is the founder and president of the Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy and he had served as the vice-chair for the past 2 years.

"My hope is that the Board will continue to serve as an effective voice for IES in the policy process, helping to ensure that rigorous research and evaluation play a central role in congressional and executive branch decisions on education policy," Baron said. "The Board can also help support the director in his efforts to increase the relevance of educational research to policymakers and practitioners while maintaining scientific rigor."

Baron, the unanimous choice to succeed Hanushek, will serve a 1-year term to complete the final year of his NBES appointment. He will be replaced in the vice-chair role by Long, who is currently a professor of education and economics at Harvard University's Graduate School of Education. She also will serve a 1-year term.

The elections were the final agenda item of the day-long meeting that opened with unanimous approval of IES's new research priorities and included discussions on the roles of the Regional Educational Laboratories and the National Center for Education Statistics' Privacy Technical Assistance Center, a "one-stop" resource for education stakeholders to learn about data privacy, confidentiality, and security practices related to student-level longitudinal data systems.

The priorities, which were first presented to the Board in April, lay out Easton's vision for IES's research agenda for the remainder of his 6-year term. The research priorities call for developing relevant and useable research, building closer ties with practitioners, expanding the range of educational outcomes studied, and developing evidence standards for a broad range of research designs and methods.

The afternoon session also featured presentations on approaches to research implementation and dissemination efforts by the National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance.

Grant Applications Update

The Standards and Review Office has continued to be very busy handling the scientific peer review activities for IES' Fiscal Year 2011 research grant competitions. A total of 559 applications were submitted to IES' research competitions in June 2010. These included applications to a variety of research topics, as well as to the Postdoctoral Research Training competitions run by the National Center for Education Research (NCER) and the National Center for Special Education Research (NCSER). Applications were scientifically reviewed by 213 reviewers on 11 review panels this past October. We are very grateful to all of our external reviewers for their hard work.

We are currently preparing for the peer review of grant applications that were submitted under the September 2010 deadline. Among these applications, which will be peer reviewed by expert panels in February 2011, are submissions to the NCER and NCSER National Research and Development Center grant competitions.

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