Alexander, Murray Commend Senate Passage of Bill to Provide Teachers & School Leaders with Better Education Research and Information

Posted on December 19, 2015

The Strengthening Education Through Research Act makes research easier to access and more relevant at state and local levels

WASHINGTON, December 19 – The chairman and ranking member of the Senate education committee commended Senate passage of legislation to “improve the quality of education research and make research more relevant and usable for teachers, principals, school districts and states.”

“This bill makes research on education more relevant, accessible and useful for the people who need it most – teachers, principals and administrators,” Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said. “This bill also goes a long way to strengthen the National Assessment Governing Board, which oversees ‘The Nation’s Report Card,’—the best tool for governors to see how students in their state are doing compared to every other state—ensuring they are not fooling themselves on their state’s standards.”

“Education research gives teachers, school leaders, local policymakers, and us here in Congress valuable information on what works in the classroom,” Murray said. “This bill is the result of strong bipartisan work to make sure we have high-quality research to help states and schools raise achievement levels, and I hope we will continue working together to ensure more students have access to a high quality education.”

More details on what the bill does:

·         The Strengthening Education through Research Act reauthorizes the Education Sciences Reform Act (ESRA), which authorizes funding for the research activities of the U.S. Department of Education, including the Institute for Education Sciences, and will help to improve the quality of education research in the United States and make research more relevant and usable for teachers, principals, school districts and states. 

·         S. 227, the Strengthening Education through Research Act (SETRA) amends and reauthorizes the Education Sciences Reform Act of 2002 through fiscal year 2021. This legislation makes a number of positive changes to the Institute for Education Sciences, a semi-independent agency within the Department of Education that conducts and oversees education research, as well as changes to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). The legislation:

·         Requires IES to identify research topics focused on ensuring that all students have the ability to obtain a high-quality education, improving access to and the quality of early childhood education, strengthening ‎elementary and secondary schools, and increasing access to and completion of postsecondary education.

·         Strengthens privacy provisions to ensure personally identifiable information collected by IES is secure and protected.

·         Directs the Department of Education’s comprehensive centers, which provide technical assistance to states, to prioritize serving the needs of school districts and schools with higher numbers of low-income students and schools identified for improvement. 

·         Streamlines and reduces duplication within the federal education research system, by authorizing the consolidation or elimination of federal research laboratories and centers that are not effective, reducing the number of Comprehensive Centers from 22 to 17, and increasing coordination between laboratories and centers.

·         Makes education research more relevant at the state and local levels.

·         Improves accountability and protects the taxpayers’ investment by requiring regular evaluations of research and education programs by independent entities. 

·         Maintains prohibitions on federal funding being used to establish a nationwide database of individually identifiable information, as well as to mandate, direct, or control educational standards, curricula, or assessments.

·         Requires collaboration between entities responsible for providing research analysis and technical assistance to states and school districts to ensure these efforts are more aligned and responsive to the needs of school districts and states.

·         Strengthens the independence of the National Assessment Governing Board and its responsibility for the National Assessment of  Educational Progress, also known as the “Nation’s Report Card,” which provides important information to state and local educational leaders on the academic achievement and progress of elementary and secondary school students.  

·         Enhances the relevancy of education research at the state and local levels by requiring federally-funded research to be relevant, utilized, and widely disseminated to teachers, students, parents, and policymakers. 

·         Authorizes increases the federal investment in research and technical assistance, including a substantial increase in funding for special education research.

·         Allows States and school districts to access useful, relevant information more quickly to help raise student achievement levels in the classroom.

·         A similar bill (H.R. 4366) passed the House of Representatives by voice vote on May 8, 2014. The Senate HELP Committee passed S. 227, a bill virtually identical to H.R. 4366 that was developed as a bipartisan agreement between the House and Senate, on February 4, 2015.

###

For access to this release and the senator’s other statements, click here.

To stay up-to-date on the senator’s latest actions, follow him on Twitter and YouTube.