NEWS 2011

Building and Education Science

Teacher and student

The Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness (SREE) held its largest conference to date, welcoming more than 500 participants on March 3-5 in Washington, D.C.

SREE was founded in 2006 to advance and disseminate research on the causal effects of education interventions, practices, programs, and policies. One of its founding members is IPR statistician and education researcher Larry Hedges, who currently serves as its president.

“SREE conferences provide an opportunity for researchers who are charting new pathways in education research to present their findings to a community of individuals committed to improving conditions for children,” said Rob Greenwald, SREE’s executive director.

Larry Hedges

Larry Hedges

The spring conference theme was “Building an Education Science: Investigating Mechanisms.” The conference’s core activity consisted of the more than 40 symposia and paper sessions focusing on early childhood education, school and classroom-based educational practices, social and behavioral processes and outcomes, social inequality, education policy, postsecondary education, and research methods. Four methods workshops and a new short course on value-added modeling were offered.

Plenary talks were given by:

  • Professor Stephen Raudenbush of University of Chicago exploring “Modeling Mediation: Causes, Markers, and Mechanisms”
  • Kathy Stack, Deputy Associate Director for Education of the Office of Management and Budget, on “Infusing Evidence into Federal Policy and Practice”
  • Professor David Olds of the University of Colorado, explaining three decades of research in “Improving the Life Chances of Disadvantaged Children and Families with Home Visiting by Nurses”
The final plenary session sought to go beyond impact estimates and asked “What Do We Need to Build an Explanatory Science of Education?” Panelists were:
  • John Easton(moderator), director of the Institute of Education Sciences in the U.S. Department of Education
  • Rebecca Maynard, commissioner of the National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance
  • Michael McPherson, president of the Spencer Foundation
  • Judith Singer, senior vice provost of Harvard University

Several IPR faculty fellows, postdoctoral fellows, and graduate students presented some of their latest research at the conference on a variety of topics, including IPR economist Kirabo Jackson, who discussed effects of attending schools with higher-achieving peers and the direct effect of peer quality improvements within schools. IPR social psychologist Thomas D. Cook organized a seminar on matching strategies for causal inference,  which includes papers by IPR graduate students and postdoctoral fellows.

In September, SREE will organize its first fall conference, which will focus on improving mathematics and science education.

For more information about the conferences or SREE, please visit its website.