A fellow psychometrician and Devoted Reader sent along a link to an RFP at the Department of Education. As he put it, it's an attempt to "ramp up" the currently-small pool of scientific education researchers and psychometricians, and to do so, if necessary, by means of an end run around colleges of education.
Here's the purpose of the programs:
The Institute’s objectives in creating the Predoctoral Interdisciplinary Research Training Program in the Education Sciences are to support the development of innovative interdisciplinary training programs for doctoral students interested in conducting applied education research, and to establish a network of training programs that collectively produce a cadre of education researchers willing and able to conduct a new generation of methodologically rigorous and educationally relevant scientific research that will provide solutions to pressing problems and challenges facing American education.
Within the field of Education, only 7% of Ph.D. candidates report that they hope to focus on research and development in education. What's more:
Perhaps even more worrisome is the fact that the number of Education doctorate recipients in the subfields of Education Statistics/Research Methods and Educational Assessment, Testing and Measures is extremely low compared to other subfields. This imbalance has remained consistent over the course of the
past ten years (Hoffer, et.al., 2003; APA Research Office, in press). The situation is no better in closely-related disciplines. For instance, the number of doctoral degrees in educational psychology has declined from 144 in 1978 to 48 in 2001 (Hoffer et al., 2003). Compounding this decline is the fact that of the 48 doctoral degree recipients in 2001, only 16 reported being involved in research within one year of the receipt of their degree (APA Research Office, in press).
Virtually no one wants to do educational research or become a psychometrician, but NCLB has resulted in an explosion in the need for good test developers and researchers able to understand testing data. I've posted about this before:
One reason for this shortage is that, despite the recent explosion of tests testing, the requirements for being a psychometrician haven't been modified, and large-scale high-stakes testing requires lots of psychometricians (and research assistants who are studying to be psychometricians). A psychometrician must possess a Ph.D. (a Masters isn't enough), and it's almost always in Quantitative Psychology or Educational Measurement (or, something very similar with a different name).
In the year 1999-2000, 44,808 people received doctoral degrees in the U.S. Over 1600 were in English; over 1100 were in Mathematics; almost 7000 were in Education. In Psychology, which is the field most psychometrians receive degrees in, 4,310 students received Psychology Ph.D.;'s, and and according to this APA report, in that same year, there were over 5,700 students enrolled in Psychology Ph.D.-level programs in the US. Would you care to guess how many of those enrolled Psychology Ph.D.'s were in my field?
Yup, that's sure to keep up with the rising tide of testing. Meanwhile, the American Educational Research Association (AERA) alone has 35 research-related position postings - and that's just the positions that are officially listed by an organization that's willing to do a nationwide search.
Anyway, the RFP makes the stunningly-obvious statements, "Many schools of education are not providing rigorous research training for doctoral students," and, "there seems to be a mismatch between what education decision makers want from the education research community and what the education research community is providing." I'll say.
The upshot is to expand educational research training so that education and psychology programs are not the sole contributors to the field:
In order to increase the supply of scientists and researchers in education who are prepared to conduct rigorous evaluation studies, develop new products and approaches that are grounded in a science of learning, design valid tests and measures, and explore data with sophisticated statistical methods, this initiative will fund the creation of innovative interdisciplinary research training programs in the education sciences. Grants will be awarded to institutions that can put together a program across disciplines such as psychology, political science, economics, statistics, sociology, education, and epidemiology that will provide intensive training in education research and statistics. Predoctoral students will graduate within a traditional discipline, e.g., economics, but will receive a certificate in education sciences, and will be expected to conduct dissertations on education topics.
Emphasis mine. As far as I'm concerned, this is way overdue.Posted by kswygert at February 23, 2004 12:33 PM