[Federal Register: April 11, 1997 (Volume 62, Number 70)]
[Page 18007-18009]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Educational Research and Development Centers Program

AGENCY: Department of Education.

ACTION: Notice of final priority for fiscal year (FY) 1997.


SUMMARY: The Secretary announces a final priority under the Educational 
Research and Development Centers Program. The Secretary takes this 
action to support research on policymaking and policy structures to 
achieve excellence in teaching.

EFFECTIVE DATE: This priority takes effect on May 12, 1997.

Education, 555 New Jersey Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20208-5510. 
Telephone: (202) 219-2214. Internet: (ron__anson@ed.gov). Individuals 
who use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the 
Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1-800-877-8339 between 8 
a.m. and 8 p.m., Eastern time, Monday through Friday.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Office of Educational Research and 
Improvement, authorized under Title IX of Public Law 103-227, (20 
U.S.C. 6001 et seq.) supports educational research and development 
activities. The National Institute on Educational Governance, Finance, 
Policy-Making, and Management is one of five research institutes that 
carry out coordinated and comprehensive programs of research, 
development, evaluation, and dissemination activities designed to 
provide research-based leadership for the improvement of education.
    The National Institute on Educational Governance, Finance, Policy-
Making, and Management supports a range of research, development, and 
dissemination activities focused on core issues in education. 
Activities are carried out by national research and development 
centers, field-initiated studies, and a variety of directed research, 
development, and dissemination activities.
    The Secretary believes that increasing the capacity of the nation's 
education system to improve the quality of education depends on 
knowledge generated by an enduring program of education research and 
development. Knowledge gained from education research and development 
can help guide the national investment in education and support local 
and State improvement efforts. The final priority for research on 
policy and teaching excellence is for a research and development center 
to be supported by the National Institute on Educational Governance, 
Finance, Policy-Making, and Management.
    Because they carry out sustained, long term research and 
development, centers are a primary mechanism for pursuing new knowledge 
about education. Center awards are made to institutions of higher 
education, institutions of higher education in consort with public 
agencies or non-profit organizations, and interstate agencies 
established by compact that operate subsidiary bodies to conduct 
postsecondary education research and development.
    Prior to this announcement and in conjunction with planning for 
Educational Research and Development Center competitions in fiscal year 
1996, OERI engaged in a series of meetings, regional hearings, and 
Federal Register notices that solicited advice from parents, teachers, 
administrators, policy-makers, business people, researchers, and others 
to identify the most needed research and development activities. 
Following these activities and subsequent research priorities planning 
meetings in which OERI engaged, the Secretary published a notice of 
proposed priority in the Federal Register on February 18, 1997 (62 FR 
7218) for a national educational research and development center that 
would carry out sustained research and development to address problems 
and issues related to policy and teaching excellence. Written public 
comments were to be submitted to the Secretary by March 20, 1997.
    The Secretary reviewed the written public comments and made no 
changes to the proposed priority. The reasoning for this decision is 
explained in the Appendix to this notice.

Analysis of Comments and Changes

    In response to the Secretary's invitation in the notice of proposed 
priorities, eight parties submitted written comments. An analysis of 
the comments is published as an appendix to this notice of final 
priority. Major issues are grouped according to subject. Technical and 
other minor changes and suggested changes the Secretary is not legally 
authorized to make under the applicable statutory authority are not 

Absolute Priority: Policy and Teaching Excellence

    Under 34 CFR 75.105(c)(3) the Secretary gives an absolute 
preference to applications that meet the following priority. The 
Secretary funds only one application that meets the priority listed 
below. Funding this priority will depend on the availability of funds 
and the quality of applications received. The Secretary supports a 
national research and development center on research on policy and 
teaching excellence.
    (A) This center must--
    (1) Conduct a coherent, sustained program of research and 
development to address problems and issues of national significance in 
the specific priority area, using a well-conceptualized and 
theoretically sound framework;

[[Page 18008]]

    (2) Contribute to the development and advancement of theory in the 
specific priority area;
    (3) Conduct scientifically rigorous studies capable of generating 
findings that contribute substantially to understanding the field;
    (4) Conduct work of sufficient size, scope, and duration to produce 
definitive guidance for improvement efforts and future research;
    (5) Address issues of both equity and excellence in education for 
all students in the specific priority area; and
    (6) Document, report, and disseminate information about its 
research findings and other accomplishments in ways that will 
facilitate effective use of that information by decisionmakers and 
others as appropriate.
    (B) In carrying out its program of work, the center must also:
    (1) Conduct research and development on the full range of policy 
issues relevant to teaching excellence and other associated policy 
    (2) Conduct a program of research and development that will aid 
policymakers throughout the Nation at all levels of government and at 
all levels of the educational system to improve policies and policy 
decisions, as well as policy formulation, implementation, and 
evaluation processes, in order to achieve the goal of teaching 
excellence and ensure continuous efforts related to that goal;
    (3) Examine the effects that different policies for fostering or 
sustaining teaching excellence, or both, have on continuous school 
improvement, teacher performance, and student learning;
    (4) Examine the interactions of various policies affecting teacher 
performance and teaching excellence and the costs and benefits of 
different policies;
    (5) Examine the role of policy coordination and alignment in the 
creation of an overall policy structure that supports excellence in 
teaching; and
    (6) If appropriate, investigate education policies in other nations 
as they relate to and can inform education policies in the United 

Post-Award Requirements

    The Secretary establishes the following post-award requirements 
consistent with the Educational Research, Development, Dissemination 
and Improvement Act of 1994. A grantee receiving a center award must:
    (a) Collaborate with OERI and appropriate clients in identifying 
significant new issues and provide OERI with information about center 
projects and products and other appropriate research information so 
that OERI can monitor center progress and maintain its inventory of 
funded research projects. This information must be provided through 
media that include an electronic network;
    (b) Reserve five percent of each budget period's funds to support 
activities that fall within the center's priority area, are designed 
and mutually agreed to by the center and OERI, and enhance OERI's 
ability to carry out its mission. These activities may include 
developing research agendas, conducting research projects collaborating 
with other federally-supported entities, and engaging in research 
agenda setting and dissemination activities; and
    (c) Provide yearly summaries of findings usable by education 
decisionmakers and practitioners and others as appropriate and, at the 
end of the award period, synthesize the findings and advances in 
knowledge that resulted from the center's program of work and describe 
the potential impact on the improvement of American education, 
including any observable impact to date.

    Note: This notice of final priority does not solicit 
applications. A notice inviting applications under this competition 
is published elsewhere in this issue of the Federal Register.

(Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Number 84.308B: Educational 
Research and Development Centers Program)

    Program Authority: P.L. 103-227, Title IX (20 U.S.C. 6031)

    Dated: April 7, 1997.
Ramon C. Cortines,
Acting Assistant Secretary for Educational Research and Improvement.

Appendix--Analysis of Comments and Changes

    Summarized below are comments which referred to the Absolute 

Focusing Research on Specific Subject Matter Areas

    Comments: Two commenters advocated that research on teaching 
excellence be done in specific subject matter areas. One commenter 
further recommended making secondary mathematics and science a priority 
for a subject area to be researched.
    Discussion: The Secretary believes that grant applicants should be 
allowed maximum flexibility to propose research agendas within the 
absolute priority area. Therefore, those applicants who wish to make 
the case for a subject-specific approach to this area are free to do 
    Changes: None.

Range of Issues Related to Teacher Development

    Comments: Two commenters indicated that the research should address 
the sequence of teacher professional development, i.e., recruitment, 
pre- and in-service training, induction, allocation of teachers across 
and within schools, retention, and the provision of appropriate 
organizational settings and economic and psychological incentives to 
enhance and maintain teaching excellence.
    Discussion: The Secretary agrees that policies concerning the range 
of issues related to teaching are important and believes these are 
covered under (B)(1) which asks for research on ``the full range of 
policy issues relevant to teaching excellence and other associated 
policy issues.''
    Changes: None.

Gender Equity

    Comment: One commenter recommended that the center include a 
project for preparing and supporting teachers to promote gender equity.
    Discussion: The Secretary agrees that promotion of gender equity is 
an important topic and believes this topic is covered under (A)(5) and 
may be included as the applicant sees fit.
    Changes: None.

Broader Context of Education Reform and Its Effects on Teaching 

    Comments: Three commenters addressed issues concerning the broader 
context in which teaching excellence takes place. Their comments stated 
that too narrow a focus on teaching policy will not include the many 
ways policy affects teaching excellence. In particular they mentioned 
the need to study the interaction between subsystems such as finance, 
governance, teaching expectations, teacher testing, outside school 
influences, public opinion, labor relations, and economic, 
organizational and psychological influences.
    Discussion: The Secretary agrees that the study of policy and 
teaching excellence includes the study of the context in which teaching 
excellence occurs and believes such concerns are covered in the 
multiple statements under (B) (2) to (5) and may be included as the 
applicant sees fit.
    Changes: None.

Relationship Between Teaching and Learning

    Comment: Two commenters recommended that the connection between 
teaching and student learning or educational productivity be made more 

[[Page 18009]]

    Discussion: The Secretary agrees that the relationship between 
teaching and learning is important and believes it is addressed in 
(B)(3), ``* * * the effects that different policies for fostering or 
sustaining teaching excellence or both have on continuous school 
improvement, teacher performance, and student learning.''
    Changes: None.

Variable Policy Effects Depending on Geographic and Demographic 

    Comment: One commenter noted that policies may have different 
effects depending upon the state or region in which policies are 
carried out or the demographics of those being affected, e.g., the 
disproportionate relationship between the number of male administrators 
and of female teachers or the racial imbalance in predominately 
minority school districts.
    Discussion: The Secretary agrees that there may be variability in 
the effects of policies and believes that (A) (3) and (4), which 
require ``scientifically rigorous studies'' that are of ``sufficient 
size, scope * * *'' address this concern. In addition, the priorities 
addressing context, (B) (2) to (5), also address these issues.
    Changes: None.

Involvement of a Variety of Researchers and Decisionmakers in Carrying 
Out the Research

    Comment: One commenter recommended that experts outside the 
traditional education system be part of the research framework and 
stated that substantive connections with the policy community are 
    Discussion: The Secretary agrees that research on policy and 
teaching excellence should take advantage of a wide range of expertise 
and experience and believes (A) (3) and (4), requiring ``rigorous 
studies'' of ``sufficient * * * scope'' plus (B) (2) to (5) address 
this concern.
    Changes: None.

Unintended Consequences of Policies

    Comment: One commenter stated that we often learn most from looking 
at how well-intended policies may inhibit the education system by over 
prescription and allowing micro-management.
    Discussion: The Secretary agrees that studying unintended 
consequences of policies is often important and believes this is 
addressed under (B) (3) and (4).
    Changes: None.

Diversity and the Teacher Workforce

    Comment: One commenter encouraged a specific focus for the research 
on the role of minorities in the teaching workforce due to the 
diversity of the student population.
    Discussion: The Secretary agrees that issues concerning minorities 
in the teaching workforce are important and believes that (A(1) ``to 
address problems and issues of national significance'' and (B)(1) to 
``conduct research and development on the full range of policy issues 
relevant to teaching excellence and other associated policy issues'' 
include the opportunity to address the issues surrounding minorities in 
the teaching workforce.
    Changes: None.

[FR Doc. 97-9315 Filed 4-10-97; 8:45 am]