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Ohio Education Research Center will guide policymaking

EHE News
March 28, 2012

Teachers, administrators and professors in Ohio will become more able to meet student needs from preschool through graduate school by drawing on the expertise of the new Ohio Education Research Center.

The center, headquartered at The Ohio State University, has received $3.8 million from the Ohio Department of Education under the state's Federal Race to the Top grant. The initial three-year funding goes to a collaborative of researchers from six universities and four organizations. The partners are Ohio State, University of Cincinnati, Miami University, Ohio University, Case Western Reserve University, Wright State University, Battelle Memorial Institute, Battelle for Kids, Community Research Partners and the Strategic Research Group.

"Our network of researchers at public and private institutions will have an unusually close relationship with state officials," said Joshua D. Hawley, associate professor of workforce development and education in the College of Education and Human Ecology, who will direct the center at Ohio State. "We will work each day with the Ohio Department of Education and the Ohio Board of Regents."

The education department oversees schooling for students through high school, while the regents administer Ohio's public colleges and universities.

"As we continue our mission to best prepare our students for college and careers, it is increasingly apparent that collaboration is the key," said Stan Heffner, superintendent of public instruction for Ohio. "Working with these partners from higher education, business and the non-profit research arena will guarantee opportunities for professional development to thousands of educators in the state, having an immediate and lasting impact on our students and resulting in greater success in the classroom and beyond."

Intensive evaluation helps Ohio meet challenges

"As an intensive policy-evaluation unit, OERC will help Ohio educators at all levels meet challenges created by a rapidly changing world economy. The OERC will help the state respond to the Race to the Top agenda as well as enabling us to build an infrastructure for educational research and policy analysis that will serve Ohio's interest in the long run," said Hawley, who also has an appointment in the John Glenn School of Public Affairs at Ohio State.

The center also will become a repository of best practices, much like the federal What Works Clearinghouse, which reviews high-quality research so educators may make policy decisions based on evidence. "We will translate research into programs that meet the needs of school districts and higher education institutions," Hawley said.

In addition, OERC researchers will focus on how districts successfully implement policy. Two topic areas would be measuring teacher quality's impact on student achievement and improving college readiness so universities will no longer need to offer remedial courses.

Ohio's successful Race to the Top application offered a plan for strong state-wide leadership of education based on the achievement of five goals:

  • Increase high school graduation rates by .5 percent per year
  • Reduce graduation rate gaps by 50 percent
  • Reduce performance gaps by 50 percent
  • Reduce the gap between Ohio and the best-performing states in the nation by 50 percent
  • More than double the increase in college enrollment for 18 and 19 year olds.

The OERC network has enlisted an initial roster of 13 researchers at the partner universities and research organizations. The Ohio State team includes senior staff members Randall J. Olsen, professor of economics and director of the Center for Human Resource Research, and Ann A. O'Connell, professor of quantitative research, evaluation and measurement in the College of Education and Human Ecology.


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