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NYU Steinhardt Researchers Receive $8.1 Million From the Institute of Education Sciences

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Researchers receive grant funding to research English Learner literacy, to develop easy-to-use analytic tools for education researchers, and to build and support a pipeline for underrepresented groups to become education scholars.

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Researchers at NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development have received $8.1 million in funding from the Institute of Education Sciences – the independent research, evaluation and statistics arm of the U.S. Department of Education – to support education research and training. The awards, four in total, were announced this month under various grant programs at the Institute’s National Center for Education Research (NCER).

“Now more than ever, as our most vulnerable learners face the double jeopardy of educational inequity alongside the stresses of COVID-19, it is part of our duty as an academic institution to support the equitable learning of every child,” said Interim Dean of NYU Steinhardt Pamela Morris.

“These wins from one of the most prestigious funding agencies for education research not only represent the hallmarks of scholarship at NYU Steinhardt, but demonstrate our continued commitment to doing just that.”

$4.6 Million to Renew Predoctoral Program
James Kemple, research professor and executive director of the Research Alliance for New York City Schools at NYU Steinhardt, and Elise Cappella, a professor and director of NYU’s Institute of Human Development and Social Change (IHDSC), were awarded $4.6 million over five years to continue funding IHDSC’s Predoctoral Interdisciplinary Research Training (IES-PIRT) program.

The award will allow the IHDSC to offer 4-year fellowships to incoming doctoral students from three NYU schools (NYU Steinhardt; NYU’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service; and NYU School of Arts and Science) with the goal of training a new generation of education researchers, scholars, and leaders to assist U.S. policymakers and practitioners with tackling our nation’s most pressing education issues

Under the leadership of Kemple and Cappella, the program will recruit 24 fellows primarily from groups underrepresented in the education sciences, including scholars of color, students from low-income families, immigrant origin students, and individuals with disabilities. Throughout their fellowships, students will be embedded in one of IHDSC’s rigorous research teams. They will also be placed in a 9-month policy-practice apprenticeship with the New York City Department of Education, MDRC, Research Alliance for New York City Schools, Good Shepherd Services, or one of IHDSC’s other NYC-based partner organizations. The policy-practice apprenticeships are opportunities for doctoral students to understand the benefits and challenges of working on “client-driven” research aimed at specific, actionable policy or practice questions.

The program was originally funded by IES in 2008 and again in 2014. This award was granted under IES’ Research Training in the Education Sciences program.

$2 Million to Level the Playing Field for English Learners
IES will provide $10 million over five years to create a new national research and development center based out of the University of Houston - $2 million of the grant will be allocated to Michael Kieffer, associate professor of literacy education at NYU Steinhardt, on research he will lead with support from IHDSC.

The center, named Transdisciplinary Approaches to Improving Opportunities and Outcomes for English Learners, will focus on research to advance evidence-based policy and practice to improve instruction for ELs in middle and high school. Over the five-year program, the center’s researchers will carry out nine randomized controlled trials to examine the efficacy of various instructional strategies and assess their ability to improve outcomes for ELs in science and social studies. The center will also look at and identify factors related to school tracking practices and system level barriers that block ELs from participating in the general curriculum.

The research will take place in Massachusetts, New York, and Texas, primarily, although policy work will extend beyond these three states. Intervention research will be concentrated in schools inside major urban districts in these states and potentially in districts in and around the border of the U.S. and Mexico in later years.

Serving as co-principal investigator on the grant, Kieffer will lead the policy studies on school tracking and system-level barriers. In addition to original data collection, he will leverage data from the Research Alliance for New York City Schools. Lorena Llosa, associate professor of education at NYU Steinhardt, will also serve as co-principal investigator, leading a research strand on formative assessment and co-leading the New York site with Kieffer.

This award was granted under NCER’s Education Research and Development Center Program. The total spending for all awards under this program was approximately $25 million this year. 

$1.4 Million for Research Supporting English Learners’ Literacy 
Kieffer was also awarded a grant in the amount of $1.4 million over three years under the Education Research Grants Program. His research will explore literacy instruction for English Learners (ELs) – children who speak a language other than English at home and are in the process of learning English. Specifically, the research will look at reading comprehension instruction in small groups and compare how ELs learn when taught with only other ELs versus taught alongside non-ELs.

Kieffer’s co-principal investigators on this award are Cappella and Patrick Proctor of Boston College. More information about this award is available on the Institute of Education Sciences website.

$1M to Develop New Software for Education Researchers
Jennifer Hill and Marc Scott, co-directors of NYU Steinhardt’s Center for Practice and Research at the Intersection of Information, Society, and Methodology (PRIISM) and professors of applied statistics, were awarded approximately $1 million to develop a new software package for education researchers called thinkCausal. This software will allow education researchers from varied backgrounds to access and better understand causal estimation tools.

The software will scaffold researchers through the data analytic process, from uploading data all the way through modelling, checking model assumptions, to graphical and tabular displays of results. The software will also have interactive educational components in order to provide researchers with the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the methods and their underlying assumptions. As part of the software development process, the research team will receive feedback on the software through their education research colleagues, through their advisory board research network and during training sessions at conferences. The researchers will also form an education-focused user group and a methods-focused user group to provide a central forum for software experiences and issues of general interest.

This grant was offered under NCER’s Statistical and Research Methodology in Education program. View more information about the award.

Researchers at NYU Steinhardt receive funding from a wide array of sources. These four grants from IES demonstrate a continued commitment to improving education through evidence-based policy and training.