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Ranking Member Cassidy, Chair Sanders Seek Information on ESRA Reauthorization

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and Bernie Sanders (I-VT), chair of the HELP Committee, requested input from educators, school leaders, local and state educational agencies, education organizations, researchers, families, communities, and other interested parties on policies the Committee should consider during the reauthorizations of the Education Sciences Reform Act (ESRA), the Educational Technical Assistance Act, and the National Assessment of Education Progress Authorization Act.

Specifically, the senators asked the education community to provide feedback regarding: increasing the effectiveness of existing Federal education research, statistics, and technical assistance programs; improving the capacity of practitioners across education systems to identify and implement evidence-based practices; mobilizing education research and statistics to more effectively reach educators and system leaders; and bolstering partnerships between educators, school systems, institutions of higher education, localities and states, and the federal government in utilizing education research to improve teaching and learning and postsecondary access and success. 

The senators hope to use the input during the reauthorization process to enhance the ESRA, to ensure that research meets the future educational needs of the nation and is put into action to improve educational opportunities and outcomes for children, youth, and other students.

ESRA was enacted in 2002 and expired in 2008. 

Read the full request here or below.

Dear Education Community Member:

Education research, statistics, and technical assistance can help inform solutions to the many challenges our nations students, educators, and schools are facing. The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee seeks your input on policies that the Committee should consider during the reauthorization of the Education Sciences Reform Act, including the Educational Technical Assistance Act and the National Assessment of Education Progress Authorization Act, from early learning through postsecondary education.

To inform the Committees work, we invite your input on the questions below. You are encouraged to include proposed line edits to current law or other legislative text as a supplement to your comments.

Please submit comments to the Committee by email at no later than close of business on Wednesday, April 19th.

1.               What specific changes could Congress make to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of Federal education research and statistics programs carried out by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES)—including the four National Education Centers, the National R&D Centers, the Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems program, and the Regional Educational Laboratories—to ensure IES provides research and evidence back to schools and institutions of higher education in a timelier manner to help improve teaching and learning, and postsecondary access and success?

2.               What specific changes could Congress make to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the Federal technical assistance centers, including the Comprehensive Centers, operated by the U.S. Department of Education (ED) to improve their utility to State and local education leaders and policymakers?

3.               How could Congress strengthen the functionality, relevance, and role of the National Board for Education Sciences in leading IES research activities as well as education research performed across the Federal government?

4.               What policies or practices implemented by other Federal research agencies could inform improvements to IES’ core functions, including policies and practices related to strengthening the researcher pipeline and differentiating the types of institutions that receive IES grants?

5.               How could Congress ensure better coordination among all Federal agencies conducting education research outside of IES?

6.               How could IES better support field-initiated research that promotes continuous improvement and timelier and more actionable research?

7.               How could IES support innovative research methods, including more implementation research, to identify how and why interventions are effective or not across varying contexts? How could IES more nimbly allow contracts and programs to change course when strategies and interventions are not working? How could the Federal government better communicate and disseminate the findings of education research to build the capacity of teachers, school leaders, institutions of higher education, and education systems to identify and implement evidence-based practices in ways that support continuous improvement?

8.               How could IES bolster partnerships with the full range of partners— including but not limited to educators, school systems, institutions of higher education, including minority-serving institutions, public and private entities, localities and States, researchers, and the Federal government—to more effectively utilize, scale, and commercialize education research to improve teaching and learning?

9.               How could education research better inform and evaluate the relationship between artificial intelligence (AI), instruction, and student learning? What should IES’ role be in both developing AI products and evaluating their effectiveness?

10.            How could the Federal government and IES provide more flexibility to the field of education research to pursue innovative solutions to the challenges we face in education?

11.            How could research projects at IES and grantees better engage students, parents, and educators in the research process, including through recruitment and informed consent?

12.            How could IES improve postsecondary data alignment, review of evidence-based practices and reforms, and utility of research reports and products to provide more transparency around student outcomes related to postsecondary access and completion and interventions that support addressing disparities of such outcomes?

13.            How could Congress strengthen IES research on early childhood education that could improve and evaluate program quality and effectiveness, provide more comprehensive data on access to early childhood education programs, and inform issues of program affordability for families?

Thank you in advance for your feedback. We appreciate your input on this important matter and look forward to working with you throughout the ESRA reauthorization process.