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U.S. Dept. of Education $3.5 Million Grant to the Center for Research in Educational Policy University News
For release: September 15, 2010

For press information, contact Curt Guenther, 901/678-2843

The Center for Research in Educational Policy (CREP), an independent research unit within the College of Education at the University of Memphis, has been selected to conduct an evaluation of a large, multi-site initiative aimed at helping state, district, and school leadership teams implement and sustain high-quality science education for elementary and middle school students.

Undertaken by The Smithsonian Institution’s National Science Resources Center (NSRC), the initiative, known as LASER (Leadership Assistance for Science Education Reform), will involve 75,000 rural and urban students in grades one through eight and 3,000 teachers and educational leaders in three locations – Indiana, North Carolina, and Houston.

CREP researchers will evaluate the impact of the project on students’ science learning and the quality of classroom science instruction in participating schools. The study will combine a randomized control trial (RCT) with a series of case studies. Findings will be used to validate the effectiveness of NSRC’s systemic approach and to help NSRC improve its systems and processes as it moves toward national scale-up of the initiative.


Dr. Chip Morrison
Dr. Chip Morrison
Dr. Chip Morrison, a senior researcher at CREP, will lead a collaborative, cross-site evaluation team, made up of members from the Texas Institute for Measurement, Evaluation, and Statistics (TIMES), the University of Houston; the Center for Urban and Multicultural Education (CUME), Indiana University; and the SERVE Center, University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Dr. Morrison will be assisted by Dr. Carolyn Ransford-Kaldon and Dr. John Burgette, both senior researchers at CREP.

CREP’s $3.5 million award is part of a five-year $30.7 million “Investing in Innovation” (i3) validation grant, with $25.6 million awarded to the NSRC by the U.S. Department of Education and $5.1 million secured as the 20% required match from private donors. The award was earned in a competition that attracted 1,700 proposals. The NSRC’s was the third-highest-rated proposal of 15 selected out of 335 submitted in the “large validation grants” category.

According to Sally Goetz Shuler, executive director of NSRC, the University of Memphis played a major role, working with NSRC to conceptualize and prepare the proposal. “On behalf of our staff, our national advisory board, our partners, and our sponsors,” Shuler said, “we would like to thank the University of Memphis and the Center for Research in Educational Policy and its partners for their valuable assistance, and let them know how honored and pleased we are to be working with them on this important initiative. We believe we have an extraordinary opportunity to make a significant contribution to the field of science education reform.”

Dr. Donald Wagner, dean of the U of M College of Education, said, “We are honored to be partnered with the Smithsonian Institution’s National Science Resources Center in this vital project aimed at advancing the effectiveness of science education throughout the United States. This award recognizes the talent and achievements of the research team at our Center for Research in Educational Policy.”

Added Dr. Marty Alberg, director of CREP, “As a Tennessee Center of Excellence, commissioned by the Higher Education Commission, CREP strives to serve the research needs of the educational community on a national scale. This award will enable CREP to contribute to the national mandate to improve science education. We are delighted to be working with the National Science Resources Center and we look forward to a long and productive partnership.”

Established in 1989, CREP employs a staff of nearly 40 trained researchers, practitioners, and research assistants. The Center is currently involved in 60 research projects, including studies of high school reform, charter schools, pre-service training for science teachers, literacy instruction, afterschool programs, and prison education.

The i3 fund, which is part of the historic $10 billion investment in school reform included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), is being used to support local efforts to start or expand innovative research-based programs that will help close the achievement gap and improve outcomes for high-need students.

The College of Education (COE) boasts a distinguished faculty of 120 full-time scholars in four departments and 16 research centers, including one of the University’s 25 Centers of Excellence – the Center for Research in Educational Policy – in addition to the staff of the College’s laboratory schools: the Campus School, serving grades one through six, and the Barbara K. Lipman Early Childhood School and Research Institute.

The COE is the oldest college at the University of Memphis and is one of Tennessee’s largest producers of certified teachers as well as professionals for careers in nutrition and dietetics, health and sports sciences, counseling, educational psychology, P-16 leadership, and educational research.

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