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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2004. Strengthening Peer Review in Federal Agencies That Support Education Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11042.
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STRENGTHENING PEER REVIEW IN FEDERAL AGENCIES THAT SUPPORT EDUCATION RESEARCH

Committee on Research in Education

Lisa Towne, Jack M. Fletcher, and Lauress L. Wise, Editors

Center for Education

Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education

NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
Washington, D.C. www.nap.edu

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2004. Strengthening Peer Review in Federal Agencies That Support Education Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11042.
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THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
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NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance.

This study was supported by Contract No. ED-00-CO-0088 between the National Academy of Sciences and the U.S. Department of Education, Grant No. 2002-7860 from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and Grant No. 200200225 from the Spencer Foundation. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Department of Education, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, or the Spencer Foundation.

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Copyright 2004 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.

Suggested citation: National Research Council. (2004). Strengthening Peer Review in Federal Agencies That Support Education Research. Committee on Research in Education. L. Towne, J.M. Fletcher, and L.L. Wise, Eds. Center for Education, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2004. Strengthening Peer Review in Federal Agencies That Support Education Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11042.
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THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine

The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences.

The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Wm. A. Wulf is president of the National Academy of Engineering.

The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine.

The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts and Dr. Wm. A. Wulf are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council.

www.national-academies.org

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2004. Strengthening Peer Review in Federal Agencies That Support Education Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11042.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2004. Strengthening Peer Review in Federal Agencies That Support Education Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11042.
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COMMITTEE ON RESEARCH IN EDUCATION 2004

Lauress L. Wise (Chair),

Human Resources Research Organization (HumRRO), Arlington, VA

Linda Chinnia,

Baltimore City Public School System

Kay Dickersin,

Department of Community Health, Brown University

Margaret Eisenhart,

School of Education, University of Colorado, Boulder

Karen Falkenberg,

Division of Educational Studies, Emory University

Jack McFarlin Fletcher,

University of Texas-Houston Health Science Center and Center for Academic and Reading Skills

Robert E. Floden,

College of Education, Michigan State University

Ernest M. Henley (emeritus),

Department of Physics, University of Washington

Vinetta C. Jones,

School of Education, Howard University

Brian W. Junker,

Department of Statistics, Carnegie Mellon University

David Klahr,

Department of Psychology, Carnegie Mellon University

Ellen Condliffe Lagemann,

Harvard Graduate School of Education

Barbara Schneider,

Department of Sociology, University of Chicago

Joseph Tobin,

College of Education, Arizona State University

Lisa Towne, Study Director

Tina Winters, Research Associate

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2004. Strengthening Peer Review in Federal Agencies That Support Education Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11042.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2004. Strengthening Peer Review in Federal Agencies That Support Education Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11042.
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Preface

The central idea of evidence-based education—that education policy and practice ought to be fashioned based on what is known from rigorous research—offers a compelling way to approach reform efforts. Recent federal trends reflect a growing enthusiasm for such change. Most visibly, the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 requires that “scientifically based [education] research” drive the use of federal education funds at the state and local levels. This emphasis is also reflected in a number of government and nongovernment initiatives across the country. As consensus builds around the goals of evidence-based education, consideration of what it will take to make it a reality becomes the crucial next step.

In this context, the Center for Education of the National Research Council (NRC) has undertaken a series of activities to address issues related to the quality of scientific education research.1 In 2002, the NRC released Scientific Research in Education (National Research Council, 2002), a report designed to articulate the nature of scientific education research and to guide efforts aimed at improving its quality. Building on this work, the Committee on Research in Education was convened to advance an improved understanding of a scientific approach to addressing education prob-

1  

Other NRC efforts—especially the line of work that culminated in the recent report Strategic Education Research Partnership (National Research Council, 2003)—offer insights and advice about ways to advance research utilization more broadly.

Page viii Cite
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2004. Strengthening Peer Review in Federal Agencies That Support Education Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11042.
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lems; to engage the field of education research in action-oriented dialogue about how to further the accumulation of scientific knowledge; and to coordinate, support, and promote cross-fertilization among NRC efforts in education research.

The main locus of activity undertaken to meet these objectives was a year-long series of workshops to engage a range of education stakeholders in discussions about five key topics:

  • Peer Review in Federal Education Research Programs. This workshop focused on the purposes and practices of peer review in the federal agencies that fund education research. Federal officials and researchers considered a range of models used across the federal government to involve peers in the review of proposals for funding and discussed ways to foster high-quality scientific research.

  • Understanding and Promoting Knowledge Accumulation in Education: Tools and Strategies for Education Research. With a focus on how to build a coherent knowledge base in education research, researchers and federal officials considered several elements of the research infrastructure, including tools, practices, models, and standards. Fundamental questions about what such a knowledge base might look like were also considered in this context.

  • Random Assignment Experimentation in Education: Implementation and Implications. The evidence-based education trend has brought to the fore decades of debate about the appropriateness of randomized field trials in education. Far less consideration has been devoted to the practical aspects of conducting such studies in educational settings; this workshop featured detailed descriptions of studies using randomized field trials in education and reflections on how the current trend to fund more of these studies is influencing states, districts, and students.

  • Journal Practices in Publishing Education Research. Following the more general discussion of how to build a coherent knowledge base in education in a previous workshop, this event took up the specific case of journals that publish education research. Editors, publication committee members, and others involved in the production and use of journal articles considered ways to promote high-quality education research and to contribute to the larger body of knowledge about important areas of policy and practice.

  • Education Doctoral Programs for Future Leaders in Education Research. A final workshop focused on the professional development of edu-

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2004. Strengthening Peer Review in Federal Agencies That Support Education Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11042.
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cation researchers, with a specific emphasis on doctoral programs in schools of education. Deans, graduate study coordinators, foundation officials, and policy makers came together to share observations and chart potential paths for progress.

Additional information on each of these events can be found at http://www7.nationalacademies.org/core/.

This report is based on the first workshop in the series, on peer review in federal agencies that support education research, which took place on February 25-26, 2003, at the National Academies’ Keck Center in Washington, DC. It summarizes common issues and ideas that emerged from the presentations and discussion during the workshop (see Appendix A for the workshop agenda and Appendix B for biographical sketches of the committee members and speakers) and includes the committee’s conclusions and recommendations on how to strengthen peer review in federal agencies that support education research.

This report would not have been possible without the help of the speakers who shared their expertise with the committee. We would like to thank each of them for their contributions:

Diane August, August and Associates; Hilda Borko, University of Colorado, Boulder; Steven Breckler, National Science Foundation; Susan Chipman, Office of Naval Research; Domenic Cicchetti, Yale University; Louis Danielson, Office of Special Education Programs; Kenneth Dodge, Duke University; Edward Hackett, Arizona State University; Milton Hakel, Bowling Green State University; Teresa Levitin, National Institutes of Health; Penelope Peterson, Northwestern University; Edward Reddish, University of Maryland; Finbarr Sloane, National Science Foundation; Brent Stanfield, National Institutes of Health; Robert Sternberg, Yale University; and Grover (Russ) Whitehurst, Institute of Education Sciences.

Of course, without the generous support of our sponsors, neither the workshop nor this report would be possible. We extend our gratitude to the former National Educational Research Policy and Priorities Board and the Institute of Education Sciences, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and the Spencer Foundation.

We extend our thanks to each of the members of the Committee on Research in Education. We especially appreciate the efforts of the workshop planning group, led by Jack Fletcher, who designed an outstanding event that has made a unique contribution to an important debate. Several

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2004. Strengthening Peer Review in Federal Agencies That Support Education Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11042.
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NRC staff played critical roles in shaping the workshop and deserve special recognition here: Meryl Bertenthal led the staff effort, substantively supported by Tina Winters. R. Jason Rolsen provided the administrative and logistical support for the committee as well as for the event itself. And Patricia Morison offered general direction and guidance. Finally, we thank Chris McShane for her skillful editing of the manuscript.

This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the NRC’s Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process.

We wish to thank the following individuals for their review of this report: Michael Allen, Teaching Quality Policy Center, Education Commission of the States; Rolf Blank, Education Indicators, Council of Chief State School Officers; Hilda Borko, School of Education, University of Colorado, Boulder; Robert Crangle, President, Rose & Crangle, Ltd., Lincoln, KS; Daniel L. Goroff, Department of Mathematics; and Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning, Harvard University.

Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Norman Hackerman, Scientific Advisory Board, The Robert A. Welch Foundation, Houston, TX and Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry (emeritus), The University of Texas at Austin. Appointed by the NRC, he was responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution.

Lauress L. Wise, Chair

Lisa Towne, Study Director

Committee on Research in Education

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2004. Strengthening Peer Review in Federal Agencies That Support Education Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11042.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2004. Strengthening Peer Review in Federal Agencies That Support Education Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11042.
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Peer review is a method used to inform decision-making by engaging experts in a critical evaluation of the merits of a product or proposal. It is most commonly known as a mechanism for judging the quality of proposals for research funding, or manuscripts submitted for publication in academic journals. It is at once a tool with which scientific judgment is formalized and decisions about the allocation of scarce public resources are legitimized. Strengthening Peer Review in Federal Agencies That Support Education Research seeks to advance an improved understanding of a scientific approach to addressing education problems and to engage the field of education research in action-oriented dialogue about how to further the accumulation of scientific knowledge. The focus of this report is on peer review as it is applied to the evaluation of proposals for federal funding of education research projects.

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