Harvard’s Partnering in Education Research Program Awarded Funding to Continue Training Future Education Scholars

August 5, 2020

Cambridge, MA (August 5, 2020) The Partnering in Education Research (PIER) Fellowship, an initiative of the Center for Education Policy Research (CEPR) at Harvard University, has received $4.5 million in funding from the federal Institute of Education Sciences to transform the way the next generation of education researchers are trained.

Launched in 2015 in collaboration with the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE), the PIER Fellowship gives Harvard graduate students opportunities to work with school districts and state education agencies. While housed within HGSE, the program includes graduate students from across the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Fellows learn how education agencies are organized as well as the nuts and bolts of federal education privacy laws.  They do research apprenticeships with Harvard faculty and are placed in a ten-week summer internship with an education agency. Additionally, the PIER Seminar Series gives fellows access to top education researchers from around the country.

“Empirical social science has shifted from relying on survey data, to a reliance on agencies’ administrative data. Further, a young scholar today needs to be able to do more than impress colleagues in a seminar room, but to design projects in collaboration with education leaders, all while protecting students’ data privacy. Our students graduate with field experience, a publication track record and their own ongoing relationship with one or more school agencies,” said CEPR Faculty Director and PIER Principal Investigator Tom Kane. “They are changing the world, not just talking to other researchers.”

PIER Fellows have worked on topics such as teacher retention, enrollment instability, and early childhood education. To alumna Emily Hanno, the fellowship makes meaningful connections between research and practice.

“I deeply believe that the point of research is to help people on the ground, doing the work, who don't have the luxury of taking the time to reflect on the data. With PIER I was doing research that is practice-relevant — that can make a difference to what people are doing on the ground,” Hanno says.

To date, the program has trained 28 fellows. With the additional five-year grant, PIER will offer approximately 30 additional doctoral Harvard students two- or three-year fellowships and an opportunity to work closely with school systems across the country.

“At CEPR, we have had the privilege of working with many of the top young scholars now doing quantitative research in education,” said Kane. “We’re thrilled to see how this next group of fellows makes a difference in education.”

To speak with PIER Principal Investigator Thomas please contact Jackie Kerstetter at jacqueline_kerstetter@gse.harvard.edu.

Funding: The Institute of Education Sciences grant number is R305B200012. The total program cost is $5,050,436. The Institute of Education Sciences at the U.S. Department of Education is covering 90.8% of the program, in the amount of $4,587,711, and Harvard University is contributing 9.2%, in the amount of $462,725.

About the Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard University: The Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard University seeks to transform education through quality research and evidence. CEPR and its partners believe all students will learn and thrive when education leaders make decisions using facts and findings, rather than untested assumptions. Learn more at cepr.harvard.edu.

About the Institute of Education Sciences: The Institute of Education Sciences (IES) is the independent and non-partisan statistics, research, and evaluation arm of the U.S. Department of Education. Their 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. Learn more at https://ies.ed.gov.