U.S. Department of Education: Source of Research
But, First, a Little Background.
Remember when people talked about the "3-Rs," reading, writing, and 'rithmetic, as the basic ingredients of a sound education? Well, there's every reason to add a fourth "R" to this list an 8-letter word that is frequently the focus of controversy, confusion, and even anxiety, for educators, as well as for parents. That word is research!
By itself, and without mention of how it is being used, this "R" word commands a sense of authority, and causes us to stop and think and listen. After all, what could be better than making decisions based on the systematic investigation of a particular question and getting at the truth about a particular problem? Indeed, we live in a society that is driven by all kinds of data, from the nutritional data on food packages to financial data to data derived from medical tests that report on such things as levels of cholesterol. And we have all come to expect that experts around us are making recommendations and decisions based on factual information that has been organized for analysis so that meaningful conclusions may be drawn.
Even though most of us are not intimately familiar with the types of research done by the biomedical community (tissue samples, test tubes, microscopes, and such), we trust (or at least hope) that it is "cutting edge" and that it translates directly into results that are used by our doctors. Research-based practices in medicine are the best offense and defense when it comes to staying healthy. The same argument can be made for research in the educational community. After all, don't we want colleges of education to prepare teachers who are versed in the most effective, research-based practices? Shouldn't we depend upon classroom educators to be experts in the delivery of instruction that is based upon carefully researched, tested and proven strategies?
There is much that we still do not know about how best to teach and support children, adolescents, and adults with (and without) learning disabilities. And unfortunately, less than 0.01% of our nation's overall annual education budget is spent on research, compared with 5-15% typically spent by corporations. The good news, however, is that there is much that we do know that has not yet found its way into the hands of parents and educators.
We are confident that this column will help teachers to expand their repertoire of research-based practices. And we are sure that parents will use this column to arm themselves with information about proven practices, so they can be powerful and successful advocates and partners with school personnel.
Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP)
The Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) is dedicated to improving results for infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities, ages birth through 21, by providing leadership and financial support to assist states and local districts.
Visit their website to learn more about:
- Formula grants to states
- discretionary grants to institutions of higher education and other nonprofit organizations to support research, demonstrations
- technical assistance and dissemination
- parent-training and information centers
- a sample of OSEP program-funded activities in FY 2001