Institute of Education
Sciences grant; Teachers get help on
By Wendy Leopold
Northwestern has been awarded a grant of almost $3.7 million
to develop a cadre of scholars who will be able to help K-12 teachers discern
practices work and which do not.
“Educators today often fly by the seat of their pants and adopt new curricula
or teaching practices that seem good but are largely unproven. Our Department
of Education grant will create a cohort of education researchers who will undertake
relevant and reliable research on pressing policy and practice problems in education,” said
Professor James Spillane of the School of Education and Social Policy (SESP).
Spillane will direct the program.
The highly competitive grant — one of only five awarded by the Institute
of Education Sciences (IES) — will establish an interdisciplinary training
program that will support 22 new, three-year fellowships and provide 50 percent
funding for a new, tenure-line faculty position. A group of 10 core program faculty
will be drawn from psychology, sociology, economics, statistics, human development
and social policy and learning sciences.
“The Department of Education wants to make sure that educational policies
are based on solid, evidence-based research,” said Penelope Peterson, dean
of the School of Education and Social Policy. “Educational policy, like
other policies, should be made on the basis of rigorous evidence, and we want
to produce a cadre of scholars who are qualified to conduct the work. Our children
deserve that, and we are excited to be part of this mission.”
The new training program addresses one of the most critical problems in education
today — the absence of empirically sound knowledge based on core education
issues. It is intended for students who want to pursue a research agenda that
will focus on practical questions in U.S. education from an interdisciplinary
The University will support the five-year program of pre-doctoral interdisciplinary
research training program with an additional $1.2 million to help pay for the
22 fellows’ tuition costs. Four students will enter the five-year program
in its first year; six will enter in each of the program’s remaining years.
The hallmarks of the program are interdisciplinary teaching and mentoring of
fellows by core and affiliated faculty engaged in education-focused research.