How can districts reduce teacher turnover? What math programs work for children with disabilities? Can high school administrators increase parent involvement? These are just a few of the questions educators and policymakers wrestle with as they work to meet federal requirements while also educating an increasingly diverse student body. To aid states, the federal government’s Institute of Education Sciences supports regional educational labs that develop and share the best in educational research. EDC leads the Northeast and Islands Regional Educational Laboratory (NEIREL), working with Learning Innovations at WestEd and the American Institutes for Research.
As NEIREL begins its second year at EDC, staff have worked with state commissioners of educa-tion to pinpoint priority topics for research and to establish a process for quick turnaround of information.
In Massachusetts, leaders sought an analysis of factors contributing to the decline in reading scores among third-graders. They also wanted a review of orientation programs for new teachers. “We worked with the commissioner to identify about 12 requests like these,” says EDC’s Leslie Hergert, state liaison for NEIREL to Massachusetts and Rhode Island. “Of those, eight have become short-term studies, which will serve the state as they make policy decisions.”
NEIREL researchers will also conduct a series of “fast response” studies—original research efforts that last up to a year. “The topics are designed to yield information relevant to educators across the region,” explains Jill Weber, project manager of NEIREL.
NEIREL also directs longer-term randomized control trials. The first is an evaluation of a reading comprehension program popular for struggling readers.
Originally published on April 30, 2007