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THURSDAY, MARCH 31, 1988.
EDUCATION RESEARCH AND STATISTICS
CHESTER E. FINN, JR., ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR EDUCATIONAL RE
SEARCH AND IMPROVEMENT RONALD PHILIP PRESTON, DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR POLICY AND PLANNING, OFFICE OF EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH AND IMPROVE
MENT EMERSON J. ELLIOTT, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR EDUCATION STATISTICS,
OFFICE OF EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH AND IMPROVEMENT CAROL CICHOWSKI, DIRECTOR, DIVISION OF SPECIAL EDUCATION, REHABILITATION AND RESEARCH ANALYSIS, BUDGET SERVICE
Mr. NATCHER. At this time, we take up the budget request for Education Research and Statistics. We have before the committee Mr. Chester E. Finn, Jr., the Assistant Secretary.
Mr. Finn, before you give us your statement, tell us who you have with you at the table.
Mr. FINN. Mr. Chairman, to my immediate left, Ron Preston, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Planning, Office of Educational Research and Improvement; to his left, Emerson Elliott, Director, Center for Education Statistics, Office of Educational Research and Improvement.
To my right, Carol Cichowski, Director, Division of Special Education, Rehabilitation and Research Analysis, Budget Service.
Mr. NATCHER. We will be pleased to hear from you.
Mr. FINN. Mr. Chairman, may I assume the prepared statement will be entered into the record?
Mr. NATCHER. Right.
Mr. FINN. I am glad to be back. I am going to miss the subcommittee. I figure this is my last appearance. Your subcommittee has been courteous, reasonable and open-minded.
In fiscal year 1988, you were generous with the Office of Education Research and Improvement in spite of the constraints on the budget you faced. We have thoroughly enjoyed our relationship with the subcommittee, and I have personally.
DIFFICULTIES IN 1988
Unfortunately, the final version of the appropriation for 1988, while satisfactory with regard to the statistics and assessment part of our endeavor, created a difficult situation with regard to the research and improvement side. We don't have enough money this year to honor our commitments, to fulfill our mandates, and to maintain functions such as running our research library and our publishing program.
We have had to make cutbacks, some fairly painful ones, and suspended things we thought were viable, like our Research Fellows Program, and Teachers as Researchers Program. We ended up with less money for our field-initiated studies programs than we intended; our comprehensive evaluation of the regional laboratories has been substantially pared back.
And we are hurting in other areas. We are back, though, for one last try with regard to the President's fiscal year 1989 request for Research and Statistics. It includes an increase of $13.5 million, and seeks to complete the good progress underway in education statistics and to begin a much-needed and long-overdue overhaul of the research and improvement side of OERI.
PROGRESS TO DATE
Today, we come not just bearing promises; we come with a record of performance that I am reasonably pleased with. We have made solid progress. I think this is a good foundation on which the Congress, if it wants to, can build a worthwhile structure.
CENTER FOR EDUCATION STATISTICS The Center for Education Statistics is a very different agency than it was when we first came to talk to you. It has greatly expanded data at every level of American education, better quality control, and much prompter analysis and distribution of its findings.
The Center is becoming a first-rate Federal statistics agency, though it still has a ways to go. It received a substantial boost in funding this year, the first in many years, and our request for fiscal year 1989 includes another boost in its funding. We think at that point we will have an education statistics agency worthy of the United States of America.
We have also made reasonable progress on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, administered by the Center for Education Statistics, which is also being reauthorized by the authorization committees.
National Assessment funding is twice as large as it was when I arrived here. We now know much more than we did three years ago about the abilities of our young people at various levels across the country. We still need to know more, and the National Assessment is the best barometer we have for finding out.
OFFICE OF RESEARCH
When I turn to the Office of Research, I turn to the part of OERI where more construction is needed, and yet we have made progress. We maintain 19 research centers in the Office of Research. Seven of them are new within the last two years. Two more are being competed now, one dealing with technology, one dealing with school leadership.
Two more are in the budget request for fiscal year 1989, one that would deal with civics and citizenship education, and one that would deal with the schooling of disadvantaged children. The Office has been making good progress on this front, but there is more to be done.
For example, at a public hearing hosted in Bowling Green, Kentucky by Western Kentucky University, we were told of the need to examine what makes a difference in early childhood education, the need to learn more about parent involvement in education and how to accomplish a more fruitful partnership between school and home.
At similar hearings, we have received advice about things we don't understand well enough and where a modest investment could do the country a world of good. An example of this is the research we've done into the effects of smaller classes. We would be happy to leave copies for the subcommittee.
This investigation sends a signal that there isn't much of a research base for the proposition that reduced class size will by itself increase student learning. It illustrates the fact that, once in a while, it is our job to produce research which shows that commonly accepted ideas and conventional wisdom may not be entirely valid.
PROGRAMS FOR IMPROVEMENT OF PRACTICE
Programs for the Improvement of Practice produced two of our most practical products. One is a report we did on reducing the dropout rate, which looks like this. And just a week ago, we released a report on how parents can help their children to become more effective readers, which looks like this. I will leave these copies behind for the subcommittee.
Programs for the Improvement of Practice seeks funds for 1989 to track the education reform movement across the country.
INFORMATION SERVICES Finally, we turn to the unit we call Information Services, which is our publishing house. OERI produces lots of products, written published products. In 1987, we had 144 publications. In fiscal 1988, there are 217 underway. And for fiscal year 1989, our budget request contemplates about 240 publications.
I asked my staff to draw together the full set of publications that have emerged since our last hearing with you last spring, and the full set is on the table before me. We have every intention of leaving it behind so Mr. Pfluger will have additional information to add to that which he already has on his bookshelves. We want the subcommittee to share in the fruits of this investment in information-gathering. Most of the Government Printing Office's best sellers in the field of education come from OERI, a little-known but telling fact.
In addition, our Information Services unit administers the ERIC system. We are asking for additional funding to get some of its newest components launched.