AERA, NAEd launch assessment of education research doctorate programs with NSF support

October 20, 2008

WASHINGTON, October 20, 2008--The American Educational Research Association (AERA) and the National Academy of Education (NAEd) announce a ground-breaking study in the field of education research. Undertaken jointly by these two scholarly and scientific organizations, a first-time-ever assessment will examine education research doctorate programs in graduate schools and colleges of education in the United States. The National Science Foundation (NSF) through its competitive award process has made a three-year continuing award effective September 15, 2008 to support this project.

In a field as large and robust as education research that produces approximately 1,800 doctorates each year, there has been no prior comprehensive assessment of doctorate programs. This assessment will examine the national picture for programs in 16 major fields of education research that have distinct programs of doctoral study, including mathematics and science education, teaching and teacher education, curriculum and instruction, educational psychology, education measurement and statistics, higher education, and educational policy. This assessment focuses on the research doctorates offered through over 900 programs in approximately 120 universities. The study parallels an ongoing National Research Council (NRC) assessment of research doctorate programs in other arts and sciences fields.

The AERA-NAEd assessment begins with preliminary work in cooperation with participating institutions during the 2008-2009 academic year with the surveys of programs, faculty, and students planned for 2009-2010. It is directed by AERA Executive Director Felice J. Levine, Principal Investigator, and NAEd President Lorrie Shepard, Co-Principal Investigator, with a study director and project staff to be located at AERA in Washington, DC. As with the NRC assessment, Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. will conduct the data collection for the study.

"The assessment is central to understanding the substance and quality of education research doctorate programs. Scholars trained through these programs are central to advancing our knowledge about education in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) sciences and in other fields of learning," said Dr. Shepard.

In addition to the Principal Investigators, an AERA-NAEd Advisory Committee for the Assessment of Education Research Doctorate Programs has been named: Bruce Alberts, University of California and Editor-in-Chief, Science; Camilla P. Benbow, Vanderbilt University; Ronald G. Ehrenberg, Cornell University; Adam Gamoran, University of Wisconsin, Madison; Paul W. Holland, Educational Testing Service (retired); Vinetta C. Jones, Howard University; Marcia C. Linn, University of California, Berkeley; Shirley M. Malcom, American Association for the Advancement of Science; and William F. Tate, Washington University, St. Louis.

With considerable attention paid to assessment of research doctorate programs in other arts and sciences fields in recent years, there has been almost none directed to doctorate programs in education research fields, despite a history of examination of graduate programs dating back nearly one hundred years. The American Council on Education oversaw early studies, followed by the Conference Board of Associated Research Councils undertaking studies led by the National Research Council prior to the current NRC assessment. More recently, the Carnegie Initiative on the Doctorate included research as part of an overall effort to reexamine and change doctorate programs in six fields (including education) at 44 universities.

The AERA and NAEd received a planning grant from The Spencer Foundation to develop this study and undertake the pilot work that led to the NSF award. "This research is extraordinarily important. It will provide critical data and findings that can be used to establish benchmarks and quality criteria to advance and improve education research doctorate programs nationally and to prepare high-quality education research scientists," said Dr. Levine.
AERA is the national research association for more than 24,000 scholars undertaking research in education. Founded in 1916, the AERA aims to advance knowledge about education, to encourage scholarly inquiry related to education, and to promote the use of research to improve education and serve the public good. As the national interdisciplinary research society in education, AERA is dedicated to strengthening education research capacity by promoting research of the highest quality, undertaking education and training programs, and advancing sound research and science policy. AERA publishes six peer-reviewed journals and research and methodology books central to the field. Also, AERA offers courses, small grant support, and dissertation and postdoctoral training initiatives supported by the National Science Foundation, the National Center for Education Statistics, and the Institute for Education Sciences.

The NAEd advances the highest quality education research and its use in policy formation and practice. Founded in 1965, the Academy consists of up to two hundred U.S. members and up to twenty-five foreign associates who are elected on the basis of outstanding scholarship or outstanding contributions to education. Since it was established, the Academy has sponsored a variety of commissions and study panels that have produced proceedings and reports. Since 1986, the NAEd has also administered the NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship Program, which supports the early career development of young scholars working in critical areas of educational research.

For additional information, contact Lucy Cunningham, AERA Communications and Outreach, at (202) 238-3234 or

American Educational Research Association

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