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Feb 2 -- The National Center for Education Research (NCER), a center within the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), is charged with sponsoring sustained research that will lead to the accumulation of knowledge and understanding of the key issues facing education in the 21st century. In carrying out these activities, NCER is required to support not less than 8 Research and Development Centers (R&D Centers) focused on one or more of 11 specified topics (see the list of topics included below in the Background section or see the Education Sciences Reform Act of 2002 (ESRA)). The R&D Centers produce and disseminate rigorous evidence and products that provide practical solutions to important educational problems in the United States. They also provide national leadership in defining research and development directions within their topics. Through this request for information (RFI), NCER is soliciting public input as we seek to identify pressing questions within each of these broad topic areas that an R&D Center would be well-suited to address. We must receive your comments by March 6, 2023.

ESRA, sec. 133(c)(1) (20 U.S.C. 9533(c)(1)), directs NCER to support not less than 8 R&D Centers and to assign each center to at least 1 of the 11 topics described in ESRA sec. 133(c)(2). The 11 topics are:

(A) Adult literacy.
(B) Assessment, standards, and accountability research.
(C) Early childhood development and education.
(D) English language learners research.
(E) Improving low achieving schools.
(F) Innovation in education reform.
(G) State and local policy.
(H) Postsecondary education and training.
(I) Rural education.
(J) Teacher quality.
(K) Reading and literacy.

The duties of R&D Centers are to address areas of national need, and to incorporate the potential or existing role of educational technology, where appropriate, in achieving the goals of each center (ESRA, Sec. 133(c)(3)). In addition, ESRA Sec. 133(3)(7) specifies that research conducted by the R&D Centers is to be disaggregated by age, race, gender, and socioeconomic background to the extent feasible. ESRA Sec. 133(c)(4) specifies that support for a national research and development center shall be for a period of not more than 5 years.

Currently, NCER is supporting R&D Centers and Research Networks that focus on the topics of adult literacy, English language learners research, innovation in education reform, State and local policy, postsecondary education and training, rural education, teacher quality, and reading and literacy. NCER can support additional R&D Centers addressing different research questions within these same topics as well as R&D Centers addressing other topics from the list of 11, above.

Through this RFI, we seek public comment and input on the highest priority research questions within each of the 11 topics that could be addressed by new R&D Centers. We encourage the public, particularly those who are aware of key research questions in any of the 11 topic areas, to address the following questions in their comments:

(1) Of the 11 topics, which three are the most pressing to invest in now, and why?
(2) Within the three topics identified in response to item (1), on what priority research questions could a new R&D Center focus over a 5-year project period?
(3) How would your proposed research questions advance the core mission of NCER's program of research, described in the background section of this document?
(4) Are the identified priority research questions likely to yield any products or insights that could be readily shared and taken up by practitioners and policymakers?

NCER R&D Centers: https://ies.ed.gov/ncer/research/randdCenters.asp
RFI: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2023-02182

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