Institute of Education Sciences

The Institute of Education Sciences (IES) is the independent, non-partisan statistics, research, and evaluation arm of the U.S. Department of Education. IES' stated mission is to provide scientific evidence on which to ground education practice and policy and to share this information in formats that are useful and accessible to educators, parents, policymakers, researchers, and the public.[1] It was created as part of the Education Sciences Reform Act of 2002.

Mark Schneider, current director

The first director of IES was Grover Whitehurst, who was appointed in November 2002 and served for six years. Mark Schneider is currently the Director of IES.[2]


IES is divided into four major research and statistics centers:

  • National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance (NCEE)—NCEE conducts large-scale evaluations and provides research-based technical assistance and information about high-quality research to educators and policymakers in a variety of different formats. NCEE's work includes evaluations of education programs and practices supported by federal funds; the Regional Educational Laboratory Program; the Education Resources Information Center (ERIC); the What Works Clearinghouse; and the National Library of Education. Matthew Soldner is the Commissioner of NCEE.[3]
  • National Center for Education Research (NCER)—NCER supports research to improve student outcomes and education quality in the United States and pursue workable solutions to the challenges faced by educators and the education community. NCER also supports training programs to prepare researchers to conduct high quality, scientific education research. Dr. Elizabeth Albro is the Commissioner of NCER.[4]
  • National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)—NCES is the primary federal entity that collects and analyzes data related to education in the United States and other nations. Among the programs and initiatives that NCES oversees is the National Assessment of Educational Progress. James Lynn Woodworth is the Commissioner of NCES.[5]
  • National Center for Special Education Research (NCSER)—NCSER sponsors and supports comprehensive research that is designed to expand the knowledge and understanding of infants, toddlers, and children with disabilities, or those who are at risk of developing disabilities. NCSER also supports training programs to prepare researchers to conduct high quality, scientific special education research. Joan E. McLaughlin is the commissioner of NCSER.

National Board for Education Sciences

The National Board for Education Sciences serves as an advisory board for IES and has 15 voting members, who are appointed by the President of the United States. The Board also includes several ex-officio, non-voting members, including the director of IES, the commissioners of the four centers, and representatives of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. Department of Labor, and the National Science Foundation. The Board advises and consults with the director and the commissioners to identify research and organizational priorities for IES. Dr. Larry Hedges, of Northwestern University, is currently the chairman of the National Board for Education Sciences.[6]


In the winter of 2020–2021, after the election of President Biden but before his inauguration in January, the Trump administration carried out numerous eleventh-hour appointments including filling out the board of the NBES, positions which had remained open for several years. Many of these appointment choices were harshly criticized by education organizations for a lack of academic or educational research credentials.[7][8][9][10] In May 2021, two of the new NBES appointees, Steve Hanke and John Yoo, both professors, published a commentary in The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) claiming that their Board commission documents (as well as those of others) had been duly signed and certified during the Trump administration and sent to the office of the Secretary of Education, yet the new Secretary, Miguel Cardona refused to acknowledge the appointments, deliver the credentials, or facilitate statutorily required Board meetings.[11] In the WSJ letter, the professors asserted that these circumstances mirror those of the landmark 1803 U.S. Supreme Court case of Marbury v. Madison. In July 2021, The Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) claimed that they had obtained emails from White House officials confirming that Department of Education officials were in possession of the credentials and that PLF had sent a demand letter on behalf of Hanke and Yoo.[12] In August, the PLF, on behalf of Hanke and Yoo, filed suit in the U.S. District Court for The District of Columbia against Secretary Cardona and the Department of Education. The suit acknowledged that NBES Board members can be removed by the administration, but argued that it must do so transparently and cannot withhold credentials or obstruct the Board's statutorily required duties.[13] On September 3, 2021, the Biden administration acknowledged the validity of the appointments and formally terminated them, leading to a withdrawal of the suit.[14][15]

See also

  • Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations


  1. "Institute of Education Sciences (IES) Home Page, part of the U.S. Department of Education". Retrieved November 17, 2015.
  2. "Secretary DeVos Welcomes New Leadership to IES, NCES". April 25, 2018. Retrieved May 11, 2018.
  3. "Higher Ed Researcher Matthew Soldner to Lead Evaluations at IES". June 25, 2017. Retrieved August 28, 2018.
  4. "Albro Appointed IES Commissioner of NCER". Retrieved August 28, 2018.
  5. "NCES Blog | NCES Welcomes a New Commissioner". Retrieved April 25, 2018.
  6. "National Board for Education Sciences, Institute of Education Sciences (IES)". Retrieved January 17, 2017.
  7. "Trump Appointments to NBES Raise Serious Concerns on Appropriate Expertise on Education Research". American Educational Research Association. December 2020. Retrieved September 29, 2021.
  8. "President Trump Appoints Eight Members to NBES". Federation of Associations in Behavioral & Brain Sciences. December 15, 2020. Retrieved September 29, 2021.
  9. Sparks, Sarah D. (December 14, 2020). "Researchers Balk at Trump's Last-Minute Picks for Ed. Science Board". Education Week. Archived from the original on January 26, 2021. Retrieved December 18, 2020.
  10. Mervis, Jeffrey (December 11, 2020). "Researchers decry Trump picks for education sciences advisory board". Science | AAAS. Archived from the original on January 7, 2021. Retrieved December 18, 2020.
  11. Hanke, Steve H.; Yoo, John (May 24, 2021). "Marbury v. the Education Department". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved September 29, 2021.
  12. Thompson, Jessica (July 16, 2021). "Agency bureaucrats can't ignore Marbury v. Madison". Retrieved September 29, 2021.
  13. "Hanke and Yoo v. Secretary Cardona Case 1:21-cv-01913" (PDF). Pacific Legal Foundation. July 15, 2021. Retrieved September 29, 2021.
  14. "HANKE et al v. CARDONA et al". Retrieved September 29, 2021.
  15. "Nine months late and facing a federal lawsuit, Dept. of Education complies with law". September 3, 2021. Retrieved September 29, 2021.

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