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September 2012

From the Director's Office

How Practitioners and Parents Matter in Research Design, Implementation, and Analysis

On September 7, at the Fall conference of the Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness (SREE), IES Director John Easton served as discussant at a session entitled "How Practitioners and Parents Matter in Research Design, Implementation, and Analysis." The session highlighted findings from three IES-funded projects that involved collaboration with a variety of stakeholders, and included children with and without disabilities. The findings were presented by the principal investigators: Rohanna Buchanan (Oregon Social Learning Center), David Mandell (University of Pennsylvania), and Douglas Fuchs (Vanderbilt University).

In his comments, Easton noted his own belief in the potential for partnerships between researchers and practitioners to increase both the relevance and the utility of research. These three projects demonstrated that potential by their emphasis on collaborative problem solving, with the researchers making notable efforts to design effective interventions that will make teachers' lives easier and better rather than more complicated and difficult. All three took the approach that interventions can be designed so that their "active ingredients" are apparent to teachers, easily understood, and adaptable under different conditions and in different contexts. All three took seriously the notion that it is just as important that research be influenced by practice as it is that practice be influenced by research. Finally, all three of these researchers discussed the importance of school climate in creating an "innovation implementation culture" and that interventions need to include consultation and support to help create this culture.

NBES Announces New Members

The National Board for Education Sciences (NBES) gained four new members in June, and two more members will be sworn in at the October 5 Board meeting. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan swore in David Chard, Adam Gamoran, Judith D. Singer, and Hirokazu Yoshikawa to the Board at the June 20 Board meeting. Larry Hedges and Susanna Loeb were confirmed by the Senate on June 29 and will be sworn in at the upcoming October meeting.

The new members' affiliations are:

The National Board for Education Sciences advises and consults with the IES Director, John Q. Easton, on the Institute's policies. The Board consists of up to 15 presidentially appointed researchers and practitioners familiar with U.S. education needs. The addition of these 6 new members brings the Board's current membership up to 13.

New NBES members

Pictured from left to right: David Chard; Adam Gamoran; Monica Herk, Executive Director of the Board; Peggy McLeod; Tony Bryk; Deborah Ball; Secretary Arne Duncan; Bridget Long; Bob Granger; Judith D. Singer; (far back) John Easton, IES Director; Hiro Yoshikawa; and Kris Gutiérrez.

Neild Named Commissioner of the National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance (NCEE)

Ruth Curran Neild has been named Commissioner of the National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance. Upon being named, IES Director John Q. Easton said, "Ruth has been a superb Associate Commissioner of Knowledge Utilization at NCEE and will bring her steady guidance and creative leadership to the Center."

As Commissioner, she will oversee NCEE, one of four centers in the Institute of Education Sciences. NCEE helps educators and policymakers 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 10 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 replaces Rebecca Maynard, who left in August.

Rebecca Maynard Returns to the University of Pennsylvania

Rebecca Maynard, the Commissioner of the National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, recently left IES to return to her faculty position at the University of Pennsylvania. Maynard joined IES as Commissioner in June 2010.

Looking back on her time at IES, Maynard said: "This has been, without a doubt, the most rewarding 2 years of my professional career. I have had the privilege of working with a most amazing group of professionals within NCEE, across IES and the rest of the Department, and in other corners of government. Staff at IES are not only book-smart, they have "street smarts" about how to design, execute, and apply results from rigorous applied research projects. Needless to say, this heading back to the university is going to be bitter sweet."

IES Director John Q. Easton added that: "In 2 short years, Rebecca has made an enormous contribution to IES and more broadly across the Department of Education and other government agencies. She is widely respected for her high standards for evidence use as well as for her open and honest leadership and communication style. Her persuasive and non-threatening demeanor help others understand the utility and importance of the role of strong evidence in decision making."

While at NCEE, Maynard contributed to a number of important evaluation initiatives being conducted in the Center's evaluation division, including studies of Title I programs and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. She oversaw the completion of several technical methods projects and worked to improve the usefulness of the What Works Clearinghouse to policymakers and practitioners. In addition, she oversaw a major reshaping of the Regional Educational Laboratory Program, the seeds of which were planted by IES Director John Q. Easton prior to her arrival at IES.