Speeches and Testimony

Statement by

C. Kent McGuire
Assistant Secretary for Educational Research and Improvement

Before the

U.S. House of Representatives
Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations

On the

Fiscal Year 2001 Request for the Office of Educational Research and Improvement

March 15, 2000

Good morning Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee:

I am pleased to appear before you today to discuss the President's fiscal year 2001 budget request for programs administered by the Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI). We are requesting a total of $745.6 million for OERI activities, a decrease of $78.8 million from the 2000 appropriation, to support the programs and activities in the Education Research, Statistics, and Improvement account, as well as the educational technology and professional development programs administered by OERI. Most of the proposed decrease reflects the large number of one-year projects earmarked in the fiscal year 2000 appropriations act that will not require funding in 2001. The request does include increases for activities that support the primary mission of OERI.

Research, Development, and Dissemination

We are requesting $198.6 million in fiscal year 2001, an increase of $30 million over the 2000 level, for research, development and dissemination activities. Our request will fund national research and development centers, field-initiated studies, the regional educational laboratories, a variety of dissemination activities, and directed research projects. The funds will provide continued support for several high priority research projects that reflect an emerging emphasis on interagency cooperation and that will bring considerably more knowledge from research to bear on education improvement efforts.

Approximately $10 million of the requested increase will be devoted to the Interagency Education Research Initiative -- initiated last year as a collaborative effort among the Department of Education, the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) -- to improve reading, mathematics, and science instruction. The request would provide a total of $20 million for this important initiative and allow continued support for research that is attentive to the context in which educators do their work, pushing beyond controlled laboratory studies to ensure adaptability to classrooms in complex environments. Such research, which is conducted on a scale that allows for a careful examination of how characteristics within a variety of educational systems interact to facilitate learning under differing conditions and for diverse students, will help accelerate the successful adoption of findings in a wide range of schools.

We also are requesting $10 million in 2001 to support research on improving learning for language-minority students. In fiscal year 2000, the Department announced a major interagency research effort, in conjunction with NICHD, aimed at identifying critical factors that influence the development of English-language literacy --reading and writing -- competencies among children whose first language is Spanish. The 2001 request will enable OERI's continued support for this project, as well as the development of a more comprehensive research strategy in this area. For example, in addition to drawing on the analyses provided by the National Research Council, Improving Schooling for Language-Minority Children: A Research Agenda, and recommendations from OERI's Policy and Priorities Board, OERI staff will collaborate with the Office of Bilingual Education and Minority Languages Affairs (OBEMLA) to develop research priorities to expand our knowledge base about effective instruction and curriculum development for language-minority children. A particular area of concern is the need for expanded research on the preparation and professional development of teachers of English-language learners.

Funds would also be used to continue work on the design, development, evaluation, and scaling-up of comprehensive school improvement models for middle and high schools that incorporate the best research-based components and practices available. A new research program, which will begin this year, will take an objective look at existing school improvement models and strategies, with a specific focus on their effectiveness in improving teaching and learning and the circumstances under which these models are most likely to contribute to sustained improvements in schools.

The initiatives described above represent a renewed effort on the part of OERI to focus on research that will have significant, positive impacts on the day-to-day work of teachers and schools. This work will include much more extensive use of research methods such as large-scale field studies. It will require partnerships and coordination between researchers from different disciplines, and between researchers and educators. It will take time to complete: complex questions can't be answered overnight. It will also be expensive. But, if we are serious about helping all students achieve at high levels, then we must be willing to invest in programs of research that attack very specific questions about school improvement which give rise to clear guidance for teachers and other educators.

A 1997 report from the President's Committee of Advisors for Science and Technology (PCAST) called for a dramatic increase in the federal government's investment in education research. The report cautioned, "Less than 0.1 percent of our nation's expenditures for elementary and secondary education in 1995 were invested to determine which educational techniques actually work, and to find ways to improve them." This budget request builds on the increased funding for research that we have received in the past two years, and represents an important next step toward a significant federal investment in education research.

The budget request also will support our long-term research, development, and dissemination investments, including the research and development centers, the regional educational laboratories, the Educational Resources Information Center, the National Library of Education, and our web-based dissemination system.

We are requesting $36 million for the research and development centers, an increase of nearly $3 million from 2000. These centers address nationally significant problems and issues in education through programs of sustained, focused research. We are requesting level funding -- $65 million -- for the regional educational laboratories. The laboratories received an increase of $4 million in 2000, and due to their efficient use of funds and this recent increase, OERI is not requesting additional funds for the laboratories in 2001. The laboratories promote knowledge-based school improvement to help all students meet high standards, with an emphasis on helping districts and schools serving high concentrations of low-income children. This mission is carried out through extensive programs of applied research and development designed to assist educators and policymakers in their efforts to implement effective school reforms. In addition to providing services to meet regional needs, each laboratory conducts basic and applied research, dissemination, and technical assistance in a designated specialty area. We are requesting $16 million for the field-initiated studies program, which will continue to be one of the most important competitions in OERI's portfolio. The topics addressed under this program are driven by the field and investigator-initiated, as its name implies, but typically cover a broad range, including early learning and development, cognitive development, language and literacy, science and mathematics, the use of technology in education, students at-risk of educational failure, teacher quality, safe schools, assessment, education finance, and adult learning.

The request also allows us to continue the national dissemination activities -- through ERIC, the National Library of Education, and electronic dissemination -- that provide educators with ready access to education information. Our award-winning INet and World Wide Web services provide quick and easy Internet access to Department programs, publications, statistics, and related resources, and our Online Library is consistently rated among the best education and government sites.

Statistics and Assessment

Reliable data on the condition of education in America are essential. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) has an excellent reputation for providing the Nation with accurate information about the status of education, the educational progress of American children, and where they stand compared to other students around the world. NCES data are used by local, State, and Federal policymakers to gauge the effects of reforms, measure the return on investments in education, and make decisions about educational policy and planning. The information that NCES provides can lead to insights into how well educational improvements are working and what new challenges the educational system is facing.

Our 2001 request for Statistics, which includes a $16 million increase, will support the Congressionally-mandated redesign of the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System as well as a mandated study of expenditures at institutions of higher education. In addition, the increase will help fund the Birth Cohort of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, which will provide information on early child development that will to help inform practices and policies regarding child-care and early learning programs. The request also increases funding for the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002, which will provide information on the cognitive growth, high school completion, and postsecondary education experience of high school students in the first decade of this century.

Our request includes an additional $2.5 million for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), our nation's report card. The increase will allow us to provide better support to States participating in the State-level NAEP assessment, including providing additional support for States and schools in analyzing and using NAEP data for improving instructional programs, benchmarking NAEP with State assessments, and developing new products and services for schools using NAEP findings.

America's Tests

We are requesting $5 million to continue the development of voluntary national tests in reading and mathematics. These tests would provide teachers and parents the opportunity to know how the performance of individual students compares with a common set of challenging academic standards for fourth grade reading and eighth grade mathematics. Use of the tests would be voluntary: no State, district, or school would be required to participate. However, those who chose to participate would have, for the first time, information on how well individual students were performing in these two key areas. Such information could be invaluable to parents, educators, and the students themselves.

Educational Technology

We are requesting $203 million for OERI-administered educational technology programs, programs, that we believe will help to close the digital divide and ensure that all students and their teachers learn to use technology effectively. We are requesting $170 million to support the Next Generation Technology Innovation program, a new program in the Administration's reauthorization proposal that will expand knowledge about, and develop new applications of, educational technologies and telecommunications for teaching and learning. The Next Generation program, which combines the Star Schools and Technology Innovation Challenge Grants programs, will encourage the use of technology such as Web-based instruction to provide access to challenging content. Our request also includes continued support for the Regional Technology in Education Consortia, Leadership Activities, the Telecommunications Program for Professional Development, and the Ready-to-Learn television program. Through these programs and the Department's other technology programs, such as the Technology Literacy Challenge Fund, the Department will continue to make progress towards reaching its four technology goals: to provide classrooms with multimedia computers, Internet access, high-quality software and curriculum resources, and teachers with the training and support to use the technology effectively to improve student learning.

Other Initiatives

Our request also includes $137.2 million for the Fund for the Improvement of Education, which will support various on-going projects and a few new initiatives. We have requested $50 million, the same level as in 2001, to continue support for comprehensive school reform demonstration. Another $16.9 million will continue work begun in 1999 to disseminate the results of comprehensive school reform efforts and to design and implement new research-based models. The Elementary School Counseling program, which provides funds to establish or expand counseling programs in elementary schools, would receive $20 million -- level funding -- and the Character Education Partnership grant program would receive $9.3 million, an increase of $2 million from 2000. Funds are also requested for a College Test Preparation initiative to provide funding for school districts and schools to pay the costs of rigorous preparation programs for poor students. Increased funding is also requested for Gifted and Talented Education, the International Education Exchange, and the National Writing Project. The Eisenhower Regional Mathematics and Science Education Consortia would receive level funding of $15 million, and the National Activities for the Improvement of Teaching and School Leadership -- the proposed successor to Eisenhower Professional Development Federal activities -- would receive $25 million, an increase of $1.7 million.


Mr. Chairman, these are the highlights of our request for 2001. My colleagues and I will be happy to respond to any questions you may have.

[ Return to Budget News page ] Return to ED Home Page

Last Updated -- [3/14/2000] (mjj)