A group of education researchers and representatives of private philanthropies argued on Monday for more money for long-term studies of education. Such studies, they said, are often harder to find money to support but tend to be more effective than shorter-term projects at decisively answering key research and policy questions.
The researchers and philanthropists made their case at a gathering on Capitol Hill, titled "Payoffs of Long-Term Investment in Education Research," that was organized by the American Educational Research Association, the Education Deans Alliance, and the National Academy of Education.
The group outlined the benefits of long-term research in education. They said it helps create better tools and methods for gathering data, and develops pools of data that can be used for further research.
Brian Rowan, a professor in the school of education at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and one of the four education researchers present, briefly discussed his study of the effectiveness of three large programs, Accelerated Schools Project, America's Choice, and Success for All, that aim to reform schools.
Mr. Rowan explained that to complete his study, which he conducted from 1996 to 2009 and which cost more than $30-million, researchers had to create a set of tools that would be able to effectively gauge best teacher practices. These tools, which have been used in more than 100 other studies since his initial work, would not have been created or refined in shorter-term work, he said.
Bridget Terry Long, a professor of education and economics at Harvard University's Graduate School of Education, said longer-term studies, and the money that finances them, can help build stronger relationships with people and programs researchers want to study, thereby improving the results. A "large source of funding can build a lot of goodwill," she said, and goodwill and relationship-building are essential to conducting strong research.
Michael S. McPherson, president of the Spencer Foundation, a group that provides money to education researchers, said during Monday's event that education research could "benefit from swinging from the fences," instead of relying too often on short-term, piecemeal research that vaguely responds to a question. It is time for education research to provide "decisive answers to well-defined questions," Mr. McPherson said.