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Research and Education Reform: Roles for the Office of Educational Research and Improvement 3 The Office of Educational Research and Improvement The Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI) in the U.S. Department of Education is the federal government's lead agency for educational research and development. Its goals are to promote quality and equity in education. OERI collects statistics on the status and progress of schools and education throughout the nation; funds basic research aimed at enriching fundamental understanding of learning, teaching, and schools; supports applied research to improve curriculum, teaching, schools, and assessment; develops new learning aids, teaching techniques, and means of organizing and administering schools; demonstrates and evaluates promising educational approaches; disseminates information; and provides technical assistance to those who seek to improve education. OERI's immediate predecessor was the National Institute of Education (NIE). Because NIE had essentially the same mission as OERI, and shared similar problems, it is included in the discussion in this and the next chapters. There are other offices within the Department of Education that conduct research and development on education issues, and there are other federal agencies that also do so, but each has a much narrower mission than OERI. For instance, the National Science Foundation supports work on mathematics and science education, and the Department of Defense supports some basic research on learning and considerable work on the applications of technology to training. Within the Department of Education, the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services supports work on retardation, specific learning disabilities, and physical impairments, and the
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Research and Education Reform: Roles for the Office of Educational Research and Improvement Office of Bilingual Education and Minority Languages Affairs funds some R&D within its areas of responsibility. But only OERI's mandate spans all subject areas; all grade levels, including preschool and postsecondary education; and all providers of education, including parents, private schools, and employers. HISTORY Federal sponsorship of education research began in 1867 with the creation of the Office of Education (USOE). Its mission (An Act to Establish a Department of Education, 1867) was to: collect such statistics and facts as shall show the condition and progress of education in the several States and Territories, and of diffusing such information respecting the organization and management of schools and school systems, the methods of teaching as shall aid the people of the United States in the establishment and maintenance of efficient school systems. For its first nine decades, USOE's research activities were primarily restricted to the routine collection and dissemination of statistics, and the federal investment in education research was minimal. Centers, Laboratories, and the Educational Resources Information Center The Cooperative Research Act of 1954 first authorized USOE to provide funds for field-initiated research, primarily at universities, much as other federal agencies were doing for research in the natural sciences. The budget for this work was $1 million in 1955, but grew rapidly, particularly in the mid-1960s: $17 million in 1965 and $70 million in 1966 (U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, 1969b). Under the Cooperative Research Act, individual projects were funded through proposals initiated from the field, with little opportunity for federal officials to shape a national research agenda (Guthrie, 1989). This approach eventually led to concerns about the fragmented and noncumulative nature of the many studies. Furthermore, the project approach was not closing the gap between research and practice and was not attracting the range of disciplinary talents believed necessary for advancing the field. A system for improving the performance and productivity of educational processes was still lacking. These concerns led to the development of three major initiatives to upgrade the USOE's research and development (R&D) activities during the mid-1960s. The first was the establishment of national R&D centers for conducting large-scale, long-term programmatic work directed toward solving education
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Research and Education Reform: Roles for the Office of Educational Research and Improvement problems. The second was the creation of regional educational laboratories to move research results into practice through development and demonstration of new curricula and teaching approaches and dissemination activities. The third was the creation of an information system for the dissemination of research results—the Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC). All three institutions exist today, although their activities have changed somewhat over the years. (Their current activities are discussed below.) The congressional authorization of national R&D centers in 1963 was the first attempt to overcome the shortcomings within the education R&D system by organizational changes. It was believed that an institutional approach would provide the "critical mass" of effort—a forum for researchers from a variety of disciplines to investigate contemporary problems in education. The R&D centers were to provide the intellectual leadership in a chosen field of work through a program of basic and applied research, supplemented by development work and dissemination activities (National Institute of Education, 1976). The centers were also supposed to serve as a mechanism for ensuring that education R&D was responsive to federally identified needs (Guthrie, 1989). As the first R&D centers were created, federal priorities for education research had not been developed. As a consequence, the ten original centers, established between 1964 and 1966, proposed their own missions. By 1966, the federal appropriation for the ten centers was $6.6 million (U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, 1969b). Educational laboratories were created in response to the report of a national Task Force on Education, chaired by John Gardner, which had conducted a sweeping examination of American education. The task force concluded (President's Task Force on Education, 1964:34) that the research was a necessary component for change, but the efforts of the past ten years have not brought about the far-reaching changes that one might wish, partly because neither the efforts to innovate nor the arrangements for disseminating innovation have been on a scale adequate to the need. The task force recommended the development of a "system designed for continuous renewal, a system in which reappraisal and innovation are built in" (President's Task Force on Education, 1964:33). It also proposed the creation of "at least a dozen major laboratories and perhaps two or three dozen more that are specialized or less ambitious in scope." Activities of the proposed laboratories were supposed to expand on those of the existing centers in three major ways: greater emphasis on demonstration and dissemination activities, the use of experimental schools and testing of innovations in regular schools, and provision for in-service teacher education as an integral part of the program.
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Research and Education Reform: Roles for the Office of Educational Research and Improvement Shortly after the release of the Gardner report, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 was passed, and the proposed laboratories were authorized. From their inception, however, there was little consensus on the appropriate role for the laboratories, their geographic orientation (regional or nationwide), the type of services they were to provide, or the appropriate mechanism for evaluating their activities. Nonetheless, 17 months after the passage of ESEA, contracts had been awarded for the establishment of 20 laboratories (U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, 1969a). The Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC) was proposed as a mechanism for disseminating federally sponsored R&D: information on individual projects and programs was accumulating as a result of expanded research, but teachers and school administrators were largely unaware of this body of knowledge. Patterned after the Clearinghouse for Federal Scientific and Technical Information, ERIC was to be an information retrieval system that would abstract, index, store, retrieve, and disseminate research information. All USOE-sponsored research was to be included. In 1966 the USOE provided $2 million for ERIC's operations with 12 clearinghouses (National Institute of Education, 1976). Like the laboratories and the centers, ERIC was soon a target for critics of federally funded R&D in education: users complained that the system concentrated on quantity rather than quality, information was difficult to access, and requests were often delayed (Trester, 1981). The National Institute of Education The Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 proved to be a major milestone in federal sponsorship of education and education R&D. It authorized unprecedented levels of federal financing: appropriations for field-initiated research, centers, and training within the USOE leaped from $19.3 million in fiscal 1964 to $100 million in fiscal 1966 (U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, 1969a). The Office of Education was reorganized in response to the increased funding and new research programs. A separate Bureau of Research was established in "recognition of the need for concentrated expertise in the use of research for systematic improvements in education" (Ianni, 1965:14). However, the projected budget growth did not occur during the late 1960s, and this proved particularly debilitating to the network of 20 regional educational laboratories that had just been established. Federal funding was discontinued for five laboratories in 1969 and for four more in 1971 because of budget limitations and dissatisfaction with their performance. Centers, too, were affected by the budget squeeze: federal appropriations declined from $14.7 million in fiscal 1968 to $10.7 million in fiscal 1970 (National Institute of Education, 1976).
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Research and Education Reform: Roles for the Office of Educational Research and Improvement It was within this inauspicious climate that the National Institute on Education (NIE) was created in 1971. The legislation (Public Law 92–318, 1972) charged NIE with providing "leadership in the conduct and support of scientific inquiry into the education process" and with the building of "an effective educational research and development system." The preamble to the legislation declares (General Education Provisions Act, Sec. 405): It is the policy of the United States to provide every person an equal opportunity to receive an education of high quality regardless of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, or social class.... To achieve equality will require far more dependable knowledge about the processes of learning and education than now exists or can be expected from present research and experimentation in this field. The mandated focus on equity led NIE to focus much of its work on those groups facing the greatest educational and social barriers to success—the poor, racial and ethnic minorities, and women. The problems of these groups were some of the hardest issues facing educators and the least amenable to quick and easy solutions, and NIE was frequently criticized for its ineffectiveness in satisfying the needs of these populations. From its inception, NIE was rarely free of turmoil. Many supporters of education in Congress and throughout the country expressed concern that President Nixon was using NIE as a ploy for reducing the federal government's commitment to the costly education initiatives of the Johnson administration. Inadequate levels of funding hampered NIE's ability to sponsor major, long-term research projects that many people believed were key to illuminating major education problems. Six directors and four acting directors in 13 years did not allow a strong, consistent leadership to be established. Moreover, as a research agency dealing with education—a poorly understood and profoundly value-laden social enterprise—NIE was always vulnerable to charges that its research programs were influenced by the political and ideological concerns of the administration, congressional sponsors, and agency managers (Sproull et al., 1978). As the U.S. General Accounting Office (1987) noted, members of Congress and presidential administrations politicized NIE by frequently intervening in the determination of its research priorities and activities. Although its mission was conceived on an ambitious scale, the NIE was always a rather small federal agency. In 1973 NIE's budget was $136 million; in the next year the budget had been drastically reduced to $65 million, and it never again rose above $80 million. In comparison with NIE's $65 million, in 1974 the Agriculture Research Service had a budget of $205 million, the National Science Foundation had a budget of $567 million, and the National Institutes of Health had a budget of $1.86 billion. NIE inherited both staff and programs from the Office of Education and the Office of Economic Opportunity. Those programs—including career
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Research and Education Reform: Roles for the Office of Educational Research and Improvement education model development, the experimental schools program, the tuition voucher experiment, and satellite broadcast of instruction—represented, roughly $79 million of the fiscal 1973 budget and $26 million of the following year's budget. After covering the ongoing commitments to the laboratories, centers, and ERIC, there was relatively little in the budget for new initiatives. The Office of Educational Research and Improvement When the Office of Education was replaced with a Department of Education in 1979, the Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI) was also created. OERI was originally seen as a "holding company" for NIE, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), Library Programs, and some other discretionary and dissemination activities. OERI was to provide some overall guidance and coordination, but to allow the main entity to operate semi-autonomously. OERI's mission was specified in the authorizing legislation, (Public Law 96–88) which begins with the following: Sec. 405 (a)(1) The Congress declares it to be the policy of the United States to provide to every individual an equal opportunity to receive an education of high quality.... Although the American educational system has pursued this objective, it has not attained the objective. Inequalities of opportunity to receive high quality education remain pronounced. To achieve the goal of quality education requires the continued pursuit of knowledge about education through research, improvement activities, data collection, and information dissemination ... the Federal Government has a clear responsibility to provide leadership in the conduct and support of scientific inquiry into the educational process. (2) The Congress further declares it to be the policy of the United States to— (A) promote the quality and equity of American education; (B) advance the practice of education as an art, science, and profession; (C) support educational research of the highest quality; (D) strengthen the educational research and development system; (E) improve educational techniques and training; (F) assess the national progress of this Nation's schools and educational institutions, particularly special populations; and (G) collect, analyze, and disseminate statistics and other data related to education in the United States and other nations. OERI was reorganized in 1985. The restructuring eliminated the semiautonomous operating units, including NIE, and placed their functions in five OERI offices: the Office of Research, the Center for Education Statistics, Programs for the Improvement of Practice, Library Programs, and Information Services. This organizational structure has remained with only
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Research and Education Reform: Roles for the Office of Educational Research and Improvement two modest changes. Management of the R&D centers and field-initiated research was assumed by the Office of Research; the laboratories were managed under Programs for the Improvement of Practice; NCES remained intact as the new Center for Education Statistics, a short-lived appellation; and ERIC was administered by Information Services. In 1988 the HawkinsStafford School Improvement Amendments authorized the Fund for the Improvement and Reform of Schools and Teaching (FIRST), and a separate office was created within OERI to administer the program. In 1990, the Office of Information Services was abolished and its activities distributed to the remaining offices: ERIC was transferred to the Office of Research, and most publication activities were placed in the Office of Assistant Secretary. ORGANIZATION AND ACTIVITIES OERI is currently organized into six offices: the Office of the Assistant Secretary, the Office of Research, Programs for the Improvement of Practice (PIP), the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the Fund for the Improvement and Reform of Schools and Teaching (FIRST), and Library Programs; see Figure 3-1. OERI's offices and major activities are described and briefly critiqued in the rest of this chapter; a number of concerns that apply to several offices or activities are discussed in Chapter 4. It is important to note that very little R&D is conducted within OERI. The agency plans the work to be done, solicits and reviews proposals, and monitors progress. Most of the work is performed by university-operated centers, free-standing nonprofit laboratories, the ERIC clearinghouses, and scholars and educators across the country in universities, professional associations, state agencies, local school districts, and nonprofit organizations. The National Advisory Council on Educational Research and Improvement OERI is advised by the National Advisory Council on Educational Research and Improvement. Five specific functions of the council are described in its authorizing legislation (General Education Provisions Act, Sec. 405(c)(3)): advise the Secretary and Assistant Secretary on the policies and activities carried out by the Office; review and publicly comment on the policies and activities of the Office; conduct such activities as may be necessary to fulfill its functions under this subsection; prepare such reports to the Secretary on the activities of the Office as are appropriate; and,
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Research and Education Reform: Roles for the Office of Educational Research and Improvement Figure 3-1 Organization, Office of Educational Research and Improvement, 1991. submit, no later than March 31st of each year, a report to the President and the Congress on the activities of the Office, and on education, education research, and data gathering in general. The council is composed of 15 members appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate. The nominees are to be selected to ''ensure that the Council is broadly representative of the general public; the education professions, including practitioners; policy, makers and researchers; and the various fields and levels of education'' (General Education Provisions Act, Sec. 405(c)(1)). The members serve staggered 3-year terms. For at least the last 3 years, the council has had few or no active education researchers or social scientists among its members. None of the 1989, 1990, or 1991 council members is listed in the directories of any of the following associations: American Educational Research Association, American Psychological Association, American Economics Association, American Political Science Association, and American Sociological Association. In addition, none was found in Who's Who in American Education. The council's annual report is its formal mechanism for transmitting
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Research and Education Reform: Roles for the Office of Educational Research and Improvement advice to OERI, the President, and Congress. According to the council's fiscal 1989 annual report, its first meeting focused on OERI's current literacy activities and the second focused on members' visits to innovative literacy programs in Miami. The report makes nine recommendations, primarily aimed at preventing school dropouts, including the following (National Advisory Council on Educational Research and Improvement, 1989): "retention of students to graduation should be a primary policy objective of elementary and secondary schools" and "restructuring should focus on the goal of seeing students through to graduation." Only one of the recommendations is explicitly directed to OERI: "the Office of Educational Research and Improvement [should] fund research into learning styles for middle and secondary schools that incorporate cooperative learning strategies and make learning a shared experience..." Only one other recommendation specifies research: ''research [should] be undertaken into programs that assist dropouts to reenter school or otherwise complete the requirements for their diplomas." The council's fiscal 1990 annual report indicates that its first meeting centered on school leadership and discussed the members' visit to the National Center for Educational Leadership in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The second meeting focused on dissemination strategies. No recommendations were included in this report. Office of the Assistant Secretary The assistant secretary of the Office of Educational Research and Improvement oversees agenda setting, the budget process, staffing of the agency, contracts and grants, publications and communications, general administrative functions, and congressional relations. The Office of the Assistant Secretary provides support for all these functions. In fiscal 1991, the office had about 88 employees and a program budget of $623,000. This small budget was mostly used for some of the printing expenses and to establish an electronic network linking the laboratories, centers, and the agency. The assistant secretary of OERI is appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate. There is a history of frequent turnover among the heads of OERI and its predecessor agency, NIE. As noted above. there were six directors confirmed by the Senate and several interim ones during NIE's 13-year existence; the average tenure of service by the confirmed appointees was just 19 months. During the 11-year life of OERI, overlapping the last 5 years of NIE's existence, there have been five assistant secretaries confirmed by the Senate; the average tenure of service by the confirmed appointees was 28 months. Altogether, only 3 of the past 11 confirmed directors and assistant secretaries have served for more than 2 years. There was more continuity of leadership at the deputy and associate
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Research and Education Reform: Roles for the Office of Educational Research and Improvement director levels at NIE in the 1970s, but from 1980 to 1986 at least 16 people served in the five top positions immediately below the director or assistant secretary (U.S. General Accounting Office, 1987). The assistant secretary is required by law to publish proposed research priorities in the Federal Register every 2 years, invite comments and suggestions, allow 60 days for public response, reconsider the priorities, and then publish the final priorities. OERI's agenda is also influenced by a large number of standing advisory groups. These include the Laboratory Review Panel, the Fund Board of the FIRST program, the Technical Review Board of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), and the Schools and Staffing Survey Technical Review Board. For NCES alone, there are 38 advisory groups with a total of 779 members, operating at an annual cost of about $3 million. Each laboratory has a governing board, and each center and ERIC clearinghouse has an advisory committee. In addition, prior to contracting for major R&D activities, OERI is required to publish a preliminary announcement of the competition and solicit advice before releasing the formal announcement. It is one thing for a federal agency to set an agenda and another for it to secure congressional authorization and funding for the planned activities. OERI's proposed budget, prepared by the assistant secretary, is reviewed and revised by the Department of Education, the Office of Management and Budget, and the President's Domestic Policy Council before being incorporated into the President's budget and submitted to Congress. Since OERI is a very small agency and seldom perceived to be involved with issues of major importance, the President rarely defends its budget vigorously. Most members of Congress also accord OERI's budget little importance for the same reasons and because few constituents contact their Representatives or Senators about OERI. As a result, most of the substantive input on OERI's budget is provided by a few Senators and Representatives and their staff. Congress influences OERI's agenda in several ways. It mandates new programs, such as the Rural Education Initiative for the laboratories, Star Schools, and the Javits Gifted and Talented program. It mandates specific studies, such as the 1980s Chapter I Assessment and the new National Assessment of Vocational Education. Congress also expands or contracts existing activities by increasing or deceasing their annual budget with directives in the appropriation reports or with "earmarks" in the budgets. For instance, the appropriations reports have regularly provided directives about funding levels for centers, laboratories, ERIC, and field-initiated research. Yet the assistant secretary does have moderate discretion over implementation of the authorized programs. Although Congress regularly specifies the minimum funding levels for the R&D centers and laboratories, it rarely specifies the number of centers and laboratories, their focus, their activities, or how they are to be managed.
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Research and Education Reform: Roles for the Office of Educational Research and Improvement Office of Research The Office of Research administers most of the research supported by OERI except for the collection and reporting of nationwide statistics, which is managed by NCES. The Office of Research supervises the 25 national R&D centers, field-initiated research (when funding is available for it), ERIC, some discretionary research, and various special projects, which currently include the National Board for Teacher Standards, follow-up activities to the "education summit," School Year Extension Commission, National Writing Project, and education reform evaluation. In fiscal 1991 the Office of Research had about 69 employees and administered programs with a total budget of $51.7 million, of which only $4.9 million was for discretionary research activities. It has subunits for higher education and adult learning, learning and instruction, schools and school professionals, education and society, and ERIC. National R&D Centers As noted above, the centers and laboratories were first created in the mid-1960s in response to concerns that the research being conducted by university faculty members failed to address national priorities, was of small scale and not cumulative, and was not being applied to education practice. Since their inception the R&D centers have engaged primarily in basic research, applied research, and development; in contrast, the regional laboratories have engaged primarily in development, demonstrations, dissemination, and technical assistance. This division of labor is not mandated by law, but it has prevailed, with variations, since the 1960s. OERI's authorization specifies that the agency shall support "research and development centers established by institutions of higher education, by institutions of higher education in consort with public agencies or private nonprofit organizations . . ." The number and substantive focus of the centers has generally been left to the discretion of the assistant secretary, although there have been occasions when Congress has encouraged or mandated the establishment of a center on a specific topic. The number of centers has grown from 11 in 1966 to the current 25: Center on Families, Communities, Schools, and Children's Learning Center on Education in the Inner Cities Center for Research on Educational Accountability and Teacher Evaluation Center on Adult Literacy Center on the Educational Quality of the Workforce Center on Organization and Restructuring of Schools Center on Science Teaching and Learning
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Research and Education Reform: Roles for the Office of Educational Research and Improvement Figure 3-2 Funding for the National Institute of Education and the Office of Educational Research and Improvement, 1973–1991 (in 1990 constant dollars). Source: Unpublished data from the Office of Education Research and Improvement. to the centers (as a group) and to the laboratories (as a group). This has not been welcomed by the OERI administrators and many researchers in the field. The administrators prefer more discretion over the distribution of resources, and researchers hope such discretion would result in a larger portion of OERI funds being available for field-initiated research. Researchers, watching resources for field-initiated work dwindle, have blamed the loss on the set-asides of funds for the laboratories and centers, which have taken up increasingly large percentages of the budgets. Some observers suggest a quite different view: that the centers and laboratories, especially the latter with clients spread across the country, have provided most of the constituent support for NIE and OERI, and without their efforts, the agencies would have disappeared. Both views may be correct. The centers and laboratories, however, have also suffered from the declining budgets: in 1973 NIE provided $80 million for their operations (in
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Research and Education Reform: Roles for the Office of Educational Research and Improvement Figure 3-3 Percentage change in funding for all federal R&D, all activities in the Department of Education, and NIE/OERI, 1973–1991 (in 1990 constant dollars). Sources: Data on federal R&D from National Science Foundation (1991a:Table 29); data on Department of Education from Congressional Research Service (1991:Table B.1); data on NIE/OERI from the Office of Educational Research and Improvement, unpublished. 1990 constant dollars); by 1979 that had declined to $52 million; and in 1991 the amount was $47 million. For individual laboratories and centers, the effect has been more dramatic because there are now twice as many of them as there were in 1973. The budget cutting has also been reflected in congressionally requested studies. For instance, in the mid-1970s Congress directed NIE to conduct a nationwide study of the administration and effectiveness of compensatory education. The equivalent of $34 million (in 1990 dollars) was appropriated for the 3.5-year study. In 1990 Congress directed OERI to conduct a nationwide study of school reform efforts—a much broader topic—but just $9 million was made available for the 3.5-year study.
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Research and Education Reform: Roles for the Office of Educational Research and Improvement These budget cuts have had a marked effect on the work and products of OERI. A U.S. General Accounting Office report (1987:2) that reviewed the work of NIE, NCES, and the department's Office of Policy, Budget, and Evaluation concluded: During the past decade, the production of federally sponsored research, statistical, and evaluative information on education has declined notably ... so much so that the availability of up-to-date information to disseminate to teachers and other practitioners may be threatened. OERI's 1991 Budget OERI's budget for fiscal 1991 totaled $379.5 million. Slightly more than one-third of it was for R&D, statistics, and NAEP. The distribution was as follows (in millions): Research, development, and dissemination $78.4 National research centers $20.7 Regional laboratories 24.9 ERIC 6.6 Field-initiated research 1.3 Education reform evaluation 2.9 National Institute of Literacy 4.9 Education summit follow-up 4.9 National Board for Professional Teacher Standards 4.9 Other 7.3 NCES (statistics and NAEP) 59.6 School Improvement Programs 99.3 Libraries Programs 142.2 Total $379.5 The 1991 OERI budget was a 21 percent increase from the prior year's level of $314 million. There were modest additions for many line items, but the big increases were for NCES, the addition of follow-up activities from the education summit, and the National Board for Professional Teacher Standards. Comparisons with Other Fields The U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the National Science Foundation are responsible for collecting and reporting data on federal and national expenditures for R&D. They use definitions that are somewhat narrower than those used for the data in Figures 3-2 and 3-3 for OERI. According to the National Science Foundation (1991a:3):
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Research and Education Reform: Roles for the Office of Educational Research and Improvement Research is systematic study directed toward fuller scientific knowledge or understanding of the subject studied. Development is systematic use of the knowledge or understanding gained from research, directed toward the production of useful materials, devices, systems, or methods, including design and development of prototypes and processes. These definitions exclude all dissemination activities and routine statistics collection, both of which have long been considered important parts of NIE, NCES, and OERI activities. Although one might argue with the appropriateness of the NSF definitions, they are important because they provide a basis for comparisons across agencies and industries. In 1991, only an estimated $58.1 million of OERI's $380 million budget was spent on R&D as defined by OMB and NSF—just 15 percent of the total. In addition, although OERI is the Department of Education's lead agency for education R&D, in fiscal 1991 it accounted for only one-third of the department's R&D. The U.S. Office of Technology Assessment (1988:164) recently reviewed federally funded R&D for technology applications to education. It noted the following about the Department of Education: Education's limited spending for R&D in the area of educational technology is not surprising when one looks at the overall low priority granted education research in general. Barely half of one percent of the Department of Education budget goes to research. By comparison, the Nation spends about as much annually on health care as on education, but it spends 60 times as much on health research. The military, where R&D has been increasing at an average increase of 7.8 percent per year since fiscal year 1984, devotes about 12.8 percent of its total DoD obligation to research. A U.S. General Accounting Office (1988) report compared the Department of Education's R&D funding between 1980 and 1987 with that of other federal departments and agencies. Seven major departments and agencies showed declines in R&D budget obligations similar to the Department of Education, while five experienced increases. When observing the budgets for statistical activities, all but one agency experienced declines, but the decline for NCES was larger than the average. Program evaluation budgets, excluding the Department of Defense, showed declines, and the Department of Education's decline was similar to the average. OMB and NSF collect and report federal R&D expenditures across agencies by 16 budget function categories, such as national defense, health, and transportation. Because each agency reports R&D expenditures in a maximum of 3 of the 16 functions, the data are not comprehensive. There is an "Education, training, employment, and social services" function, which has a subcategory of "Research and general education aids." None of the
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Research and Education Reform: Roles for the Office of Educational Research and Improvement substantial investments in education R&D by NSF or the Department of Defense is included, because they are precluded from reporting in that budget function. In 1991 the subcategory of education had projected R&D expenditures of $140 million by the Department of Education and $106 million by the Smithsonian Institution (National Science Foundation, 1991b), the only two institutions tabulated for that subcategory, and clearly little of the Smithsonian budget is actually used for education R&D. For these reasons, NSF's budget function data are inadequate for monitoring federal expenditures in education R&D. Occasionally, comprehensive analyses across agencies have been undertaken to estimate federal expenditures in a given area. OMB conducted a special survey for the National Education Goals Panel in the summer of 1991 and estimated that the federal government spent $310 million on education R&D in that year (National Education Goals Panel, 1991). This committee undertook a similar analysis, talking to budget office personnel and key program administrators and examining listings of funded projects. We estimated total expenditures in 1991 to be $364 million. Most of the difference in the two totals result from estimates for education R&D by the Department of Defense, with the OMB estimate being considerably lower. Despite the shortcomings in the budget function data, they are the best available for making comparisons across broad areas of research such as education, health, and agriculture. And there is reason to think they work better for most functions than they do for education. For instance, the budget function data for health are only 8 percent lower than data from NIH's own comprehensive analysis. Given the manner in which the budget function data are generated, they will almost always underestimate the total federal investment in a specified area. Table 3-1 presents data for several broad areas that correspond with the budget functions. It shows federal funds for R&D in each area, total federal expenditures for all activities in each area, and all expenditures in the country for all activities in each area. Federal expenditures for education R&D are one-third those for R&D in agriculture and transportation and only 4 percent of federal expenditures for R&D in health. Because the data for education R&D are from comprehensive analysis across agencies and the data for the other areas are from NSF's budget functions and therefore underestimates, the disparities are even greater than they appear from these data. The low investment in education R&D is not a function of the federal government's overall involvement in this area. It invests less than 1 percent of its total education expenditures on R&D, but it invests 3.2 percent of its total transportation expenditures on R&D, 6.9 percent of its total
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Research and Education Reform: Roles for the Office of Educational Research and Improvement TABLE 3-1 Expenditures by Area of Activity for Federal R&D, Total Federal Expenditures, and All National Expenditures, Fiscal 1990 (in billions) Area of Activity Federal R&Da Total Federal Expendituresb All National Expenditures Education $ 0.3c $ 38.7d $ 365e Agriculture 1.0 14.5 100f Transportation 1.0 30.9 163f Energy 2.7 4.9 406g Space 5.8 14.6 n.a. Health 8.3 60.9 616h Defense 39.9 303.3 328i All activities 63.8 1,368.5 5,464j NOTE: n.a., not available. SOURCES: a National Science Foundation, 1991a:Table 1 (for all areas of activity except education) b Budget of the United States Government, 1992, Part 4:Table A-2 (for all areas of activity except education). c National Education Goals Panel, 1991:Exhibit 79. d National Center for Education Statistics, 199lb:Table 338. Table shows total federal expenditures for education of 50.4 billion; we excluded $12.1 billion for research programs in all disciplines at universities and related institutions, except the estimated $0.3 billion for education R&D. e National Center for Education Statistics, 199lb:Table 29. f U.S. Department of Commerce, 1992, Part 4:Table 699 (fiscal 1988). g U.S. Department of Commerce, 1992, Part 4:Table 951 (fiscal 1988). h U.S, Department of Health and Human Services, 1991 :Table 1 (fiscal 1990). i U.S. Department of Commerce, 1992, Part 4:Table 541 (fiscal 1990). j National Center for Education Statistics. 199lb:Table 29. (Total is gross national product.) agriculture expenditures, and 13.6 percent of its total health expenditures; see Figure 3-4. The low investment in education R&D also is not a function of total national expenditures for each activity. Federal education research is just 0.1 percent of total national expenditures for education. Federal transportation research is almost 0.6 percent of total national expenditures on transportation; federal agriculture research is 1.0 percent of total national expenditures on agriculture; and federal health research is 1.3 percent of total national expenditures on health care; see Figure 3-5. By all the above comparisons, federal funding for education R&D lags far behind federal funding for R&D in other broad areas of activity. From Table 3-1 one can compute that only one-half of 1 percent of all federally funded research and development is directed to education.
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Research and Education Reform: Roles for the Office of Educational Research and Improvement Figure 3-4 Federal R&D in selected areas as a percentage of total federal expenditures in each area, 1990. Figure 3-5 Federal support for R&D in specified areas as a percentage of total national expenditures in each area, 1990. NOTE: n.a., not available.
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Research and Education Reform: Roles for the Office of Educational Research and Improvement Other Funding of R&D There are no data on total nationwide expenditures for education R&D, including expenditures by private organizations and state and local governments. NSF is responsible for monitoring national expenditures for R&D, but it does not do so for education R&D. As a consequence, it is difficult to assess how the declines in OERI's and NIE's support for education R&D may have been magnified or offset by trends at other levels. The data show that there has been a large decline in federal support for education R&D over the past two decades, and incomplete information suggests that there have been small and moderate increases in support from several other sources. A comprehensive analysis of total federal expenditures for education R&D in 1975 found a total of $1.1 billion (in 1990 constant dollars) (National Institute of Education, 1976). Somewhat less comprehensive analyses conducted by the Office of Management and Budget for the years 1974, 1975, and 1976 indicated federal expenditures of $1.1 billion, $1.0 billion, and $1.3 billion, respectively (in 1990 constant dollars). The above-noted 1991 analyses suggest the federal total is now only $310 to $364 million. All data on funding levels are based on OMB's and NSF's narrow definitions of R&D. Only four federal agencies invested more than $5 million in education R&D and their activities are briefly noted below. The Department of Education is the largest funder, spending about $193 million in 1991. Of that amount, OERI accounts for only an estimated $58 million. The largest share of the department's funding, an estimated $94 million, is for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services, which conducts R&D on various learning disabilities, special education approaches, and the handicaps of children and adults. Smaller amounts of R&D are accounted for by R&D on Chapter 1 programs ($10 million), international education and foreign language ($3 million), bilingual education ($3 million), and other subjects. Some of this work is administered by the respective program offices, but some, particularly evaluations of demonstration efforts, is handled by the department's Office of Planning, Budget, and Evaluation. The National Science Foundation spent an estimated $54 million in education R&D, mostly through its Education and Human Resources Directorate. It supports work on the teaching and learning of mathematics and science; the applications of advanced technologies, particularly computers, to science and mathematics education; the development of improved curricula, materials and strategies for primary and secondary school instruction in mathematics, science, and technology; improvements in undergraduate college instruction in mathematics, science, and engineering; and studies of science, mathematics, and engineering education. The Department of Health and Human Services supported about $39
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Research and Education Reform: Roles for the Office of Educational Research and Improvement million of education R&D in 1991. Its efforts focused on the biology of learning, cognitive processing, the relationships between health and learning, and the education of health professionals. The Department of Defense funded an estimated $16 million of education R&D in 1991, according to the OMB data; the committee's estimate is $75 million. The department supports psychometric research; basic research on cognition, learning, and problem solving; computer-assisted learning through intelligent tutoring, simulations, and other means; and the development of computerized expert systems to assist in complex decision making. In April 1991 President Bush announced a wide-ranging America 2000 education reform strategy. It proposed world-class standards and national achievement tests; several efforts to improve teaching and leadership in schools and recognition and rewards for excellence; the promotion of school choice; one-time $1 million grants to 535 schools that the undertake specified reforms; cooperation with the new New American Schools Development Corporation (see below); and job skills training and continuing education for adults. Substantial funding increases have been proposed for each area of effort except the latter two. Legislative proposals in support of the program appear bogged down because there is considerable disagreement in Congress over the advisability of national achievement tests, school choice, and the one-time grants to 535 schools. There is widespread anecdotal information indicating that many state departments of education and large school districts have added research staff over the past 20 years, but the information also suggests that these personnel are primarily used for routine student assessment programs and evaluations of local demonstrations. NSF surveys indicate that state agencies spent $26 million of state funds on education R&D in fiscal 1973 and $21 million in fiscal 1988 (both in 1990 constant dollars) (National Institute of Education, 1976; National Science Foundation, 1990). These state agency expenditures do not include substantial state support for thousands of faculty in public colleges and universities who spend a portion of their time doing education research. This is not the release-time paid by foundation and federal research awards, but rather the part of faculty members' normal weekly activities that is expected to be devoted to scholarly pursuits. There is similar private support for the scholarly activity of faculty in private colleges and universities. Lieberman (1991) estimated that the two accounted for about $300–$400 million worth of education research. The committee was not able to determine how this amount may have changed over the past several decades. Most of this university-supported work is believed to be discipline oriented, rather than problem oriented, because promotion and tenure are judged primarily by contributions to the disciplines. The work is also thought to involve mostly small-scale studies, because universities have very limited funds to support the research
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Research and Education Reform: Roles for the Office of Educational Research and Improvement assistants, original data collection efforts, and data processing that large-scale studies usually involve. State education policy centers have been created in about 25 states during the past several years. Their purpose is to help inform the policy-making process with nonpartisan research. Most operate on a very small scale: in 1990 only four had an operating budget in excess of $100,000 (McCarthy, 1990). University funds and foundation grants are their main sources of support. Foundation support for education research has increased modestly from 1981, the first year for which totals are available. It rose from $20 million then (in 1990 dollars) to $36 million in 1990, according to the Foundation Center's database. The latter figure is less than 1 percent of total foundation spending for that year. Professional education associations are reported to have expanded their R&D staffs over the past two decades, but aggregate data are not available. Most of these associations rely substantially on federal and foundation funds to support their research and development activities, and thus they contribute limited additional funding for those activities. Several major business associations became involved with education reform during the 1980s and have commissioned or conducted education policy studies. Their interests vary, but they generally focus on work force preparation, business-school partnerships, and the Job Training Partnership Act programs. Together, the work does not appear to exceed $10 million annually, and a substantial portion is funded by foundations and corporations. The latter has not previously been a common source of funding for education research. The New American Schools Development Corporation (NASDC) was created recently by business leaders at the request of President Bush. NAS-DC hopes to raise $200 million from private sources for a one-time 5-year effort to ''create and test designs for schools that achieve national education goals and meet world class standards for all students'' (New American Schools Development Corporation, 1991:13). NASDC is deliberately seeking ideas from sources not traditionally associated with education. Though some have interpreted NASDC as a "vote of no confidence" in OERI, the President apparently sees it as a supplemental "jump start" effort (Alexander, 1991:27). The administration's fiscal 1992 and 1993 budget requests have sought to increase funding for OERI's research, statistics, and school improvement efforts. Whether NASDC will succeed remains to be seen. Only about $40 million of the $200 million has been committed over the past 9 months. NASDC officials say they have not really started their fundraising, but some corporate leaders have voiced reluctance to contribute. Equally important, the ambitious goals of NASDC are on a very tight schedule. The
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Research and Education Reform: Roles for the Office of Educational Research and Improvement designs are to be developed during the first year; implemented, tested, and refined during the next 2 years; and then disseminated to local communities during the following 2 years. The examples of education development efforts cited in Chapter 2 suggest that much more time would be needed to achieve NASDC's goals. At the end of 5 years there is likely to remain much need for fine-tuning the models, rigorous testing of them, and supporting their adoption. Private organizations, such as Bell Laboratories and the Educational Testing Service, undoubtedly invest in education R&D, but again there are no aggregate data. Commercial textbook and software publishers may also do so, but their work has long been criticized for lagging far behind advances in research knowledge. Several professional associations of educators and scholars have recently become heavily involved in curriculum improvement efforts. The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics developed objectives for mathematics curricula and assessment that have been well received and widely endorsed. Project 2061 of the American Association for the Advancement of Science is developing several alternative approaches to teaching science. Whittle Communications has announced the Edison Project to invent new schools that will then be operated privately around the country. All of these undertakings are development efforts, not research, and it is unclear how much they have been based on research findings or will use research in refining their work and testing it. There has been some conjecture that because of increases in nonfederal funding of education R&D, the federal role now can be considerably reduced. The committee finds no evidence for that conjecture. Solid evidence indicates that total federal investment in education R&D has declined by $700 million (in 1990 constant dollars) since 1975. Although there are some indications that school districts, professional associations, business organizations and foundations have increased their support of education R&D, the spotty available evidence suggests these increases almost certainly fall short of the amount of the decline in federal support. The evidence also suggests that the expanded nonfederal support is directed towards local testing and assessment programs and some limited topics of research, rather than the broad spectrum of research and development that has traditionally been the mission of OERI and NIE.
Representative terms from entire chapter: