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NSF Press Release


NSF PR 99-62 - October 8, 1999

Media contact:

  Bill Noxon

  (703) 292-8070

Program contact:

  John Cherniavsky

  (703) 306-1650

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

Unique Interagency Education Research Initiative Kicks Off With First Grants
Projects to Build New Learning, Teaching Strategies in Core Subjects

The National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Education (ED) and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) this week announced awards under a new and unique Interagency Education Research Initiative (IERI). The 14 grants total $28.5 million to 12 institutions in nine states. They will support research to identify education strategies that improve the teaching and learning of reading, mathematics and science from pre-kindergarten through grade 12. The strategies will focus on the use of information and computer technologies in education.

"The first round of IERI awards is an important step toward improving the quality and utility of educational research for the betterment of our schools," said Arthur Bienenstock, associate director for science in the President's Office of Science and Technology Policy. "This interagency team has responded ably to the calls of the President's Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology to support these interdisciplinary, rigorous, large-scale studies in precollege education."

"These research projects are addressing real-world problems facing today's teachers and parents, including how to best help children successfully develop reading and math skills early in their academic careers," noted James Griffin, the IERI Team Leader from ED's Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI). "The majority of these studies include children from diverse racial, ethnic and economic backgrounds, ensuring that the research will reflect the day-today realities of students, parents and teachers."

These awards "demonstrate a diverse collection of studies with strong methodologies that could have a wide impact on education," said John Cherniavsky, NSF's program manager for the initiative. The awards, he explained, examine the effects of school-wide change on academic performance, as well as how technology can play a meaningful role in classroom instruction and the professional development of teachers.

Reid Lyon, chief of the child development and behavior branch at NICHD, emphasized the interdisciplinary nature of the IERI, saying the rigorous education research methodology "draws on cognitive science research, clinical studies, and educational practice."

Under the University of Michigan's $4.1-million project, "Developing Measures of Instructional Improvement," researchers will build upon OERI-supported, four-year longitudinal studies in leading whole school interventions involving 20,000 elementary school students in high poverty areas. While increasingly popular whole school models have shown promise in small-scale evaluations for raising elementary school student achievement in reading and mathematics, they have not yet been subject to large scale evaluation. The results of this project will move the field beyond the current "case study" approach to evaluating whole school reform. It will do this by developing new ways to identify the components of these interventions that lead to improved student performance in mathematics and reading.

The University of Texas Health Center-Houston's nearly $4 million interdisciplinary study, "Early Development of Reading Skills: A Cognitive Neuroscience Approach," will use multiple interventions and assessment methods to address questions of how to best tailor, sequence and integrate early reading instruction to promote literacy. A particularly exciting component of this study involves the use of advanced brain imaging technology to track changes in neural function of students receiving different types of instruction as they learn to read. The results of this project will inform efforts aimed at the prevention, early identification, and remediation of early reading difficulties.

Another IERI award is a $3.6-million grant to Carnegie-Mellon University for its "Classroom Use and Efficacy of an Automated Reading Tutor that Listens." Using speech understanding and synthesis technology developed with NSF support, this project will explore the efficacy of an automated reading tutor for young children who are at risk for reading difficulties. The unique tutor "listens" as the student reads aloud and coaches the student, using a cognitive model of the reading process, to help the student develop skills necessary for reading. Experiments with successive prototypes of the reading tutor that run on commercially available computers will lay the foundation for its transition into affordable, effective, sustainable and scalable interventions of major benefit to children.


For more information on IERI, see:

Editors/other contacts:

Attachment: List of IERI Awards

For more information on PCAST's "Report to the President on the Use of Technology to Strengthen K-12 Education," see:


Interagency Education Research Initiative (IERI) Awards

University of Michigan
Deborah Ball    Amount: $4,105,152
Developing Measures of Instructional Improvement

University of Texas Health Center-Houston
Jack Fletcher    Amount: $3,974,486
Early Development of Reading Skills: A Cognitive Neuroscience Approach

Carnegie-Mellon University
David Mostow    Amount: $3,645,114
Classroom Use and Efficacy of an Automated Reading Tutor that Listens

Education Development Center
David Dickenson    Amount: $3,626,975
Using Technology to Support Preschool Teachers' Professional Development

Yale University
Robert Sternberg    Amount: $3,022,986
An Evaluation of Teacher Training for Triarchic Instruction and Assessment

San Diego State University
Randolph Philipp    Amount: $2,832,544
Integrating Mathematics and Pedagogy (IMAP): An Investigation of the Effects on Elementary Pre-service Teachers' Beliefs and Learning of Mathematics

Vanderbilt University
Diana Sharp    Amount: $1,617,542 Cognitively-Based, Multimedia Support for a Balanced Approach to the Development of Early Reading in School and Home Contexts

University of California-Berkeley
Prentice Starkey    Amount: $1,586,709
The Early Development of Mathematical Cognition in Socioeconomic and Cultural Contexts

University of California-Riverside
Kathleen Metz    Amount: $999,786
What Are the "Developmental Needs" of Young Children in Science?: Revision of Developmental Constraints on K-3 Science Education

Michigan State University
Nell Duke    Amount: $994,219
Dick, Jane, and Spot Meet the Information Age: Diversifying Genres Used in Early Literacy Instruction

University of California-Riverside
Robert Calfee    Amount: $944,112
Reading and Writing about Science: A Design-Experiment Strategy

Michigan State University
Victoria Purcell-Gates    Amount: $839,785
Explicit Explanation of Genre Within Authentic Science: Does It Facilitate Development and Achievement?

University of Missouri-St. Louis
Matthew Keefer    Amount: $253,482
An Inquiry-based Approach to Professional Development: Using Prototypes to Help New Teachers Reflect on Project-based Learning

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Frank Rusch    Amount: $99,794
Planning Grant for a Data Center




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