Is education research looking at the right issues?

A new report published by the Aspen Institute considers how US federal policy influences education research. The report includes a useful summary of the way that the federal government funds education research through a plethora of agencies. This is followed by a series of essays looking at ways in which this might be improved in the future. In his essay, Robert Slavin suggests some potential new directions for education research. “Research, evaluation, and dissemination of effective approaches should be the cornerstone of progress in America’s elementary and secondary schools,” he says.

Source: Leveraging Learning: The Evolving Role of Federal Policy in Education Research (2013), The Aspen Institute.

Innovation in education and medicine

“Education research is as likely as medical research to lead to profound breakthroughs in practice and outcomes in the coming years.” That is the conclusion of the latest blog post from Robert Slavin, professor in the IEE and director of the Center for Research and Reform in Education, in which he discusses similarities and differences in the way evidence affects, or could affect, education and medicine.

To support his conclusion, Slavin offers several reasons why, with greater support, education research could have at least as profound an impact on education outcomes as medicine or public health do on health outcomes. For example, he says, “Education research is easier to do than medical research. The unlikelihood of serious negative side effects is one reason. Another is that because pretests in education are so highly correlated with post-tests, we can accurately predict what students would have achieved without treatment, making it easier to do studies.” Ultimately, Slavin says, “When we build up a stock of proven programs and have the support of government for using them, watch out. Education could show medicine a thing or two about how to improve outcomes on a national scale using rigorous research and innovation.”