It is hard to say exactly what the direct effect on homeschooling the current push for more school data will have but the organizational power and money behind the effort says all parents should watch closely. An article published by Education Week gives us a look into the workings and thinking of eductional research:
New Head of U.S. Research Agency Aims for Relevance
By Debra Viadero
If improving the “rigor” of education studies has been the watchword for much of the work carried out by the U.S. Department of Education’s key research agency over the past seven years, “relevance” and “usefulness” seem to be shaping up as twin themes for the half-dozen years ahead.
At least that’s the message John Q. Easton, the new director of the department’s Institute of Education Sciences, is communicating as he speaks to national groups around the country. Five months into his six-year term, the 60-year-old Mr. Easton has perfected what he calls his “five-bullet talk” on his plans for the $617-million-a-year agency, founded in 2002. While not yet a hard and fast agenda, his presentation outlines his own goals for the direction the government plans to take in shepherding federal education research.
In their upcoming column Countering Problems Created by Research on Families (Jan-Feb/10) Larry and Susan Kaseman write, “most studies support the idea that parents and families are the problem and professionals and institutions are the solution. Such a conclusion arises NOT because it’s accurate but rather because research is financed and heavily influenced by a power structure that has much to gain by maintaining and expanding the roles of experts and large institutions.”
With that in mind another excerpt from the Education Week article:
Under Mr. Whitehurst, the institute’s first director, the agency moved early to increase funding for studies using randomized controlled trials and other rigorous methods in response to widespread dissatisfaction among policymakers and practitioners with the quality of education research.
The agency also created the What Works Clearinghouse, which vetted the research evidence on education programs and policies and made the results widely available on a user-friendly Web site.
Those and other efforts improved the agency’s reputation with federal policymakers from what it had been during the institute’s previous incarnation as the Education Department’s office of educational research and improvement.
But the studies issued by the IES yielded some disappointing results. Most of the education strategies tested were found to produce little, if any, effect on student learning.
In his talks, Mr. Easton, a veteran of the education research community in Chicago, has said that the field needs to know more than “what works.” Educators need to develop a better understanding of schools as organizations and how improvement happens in them, he believes.
Read the entire piece here. Follow Education Week’s Eye on Research here. And don’t miss the Kaseman’s column where they not only talk about the research industry’s impact and influence, but also points to research that supports families and the importance of parents.