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Use of Educational Research and Development Resources by Public School Districts
NCES: 90084
April 1990


Use of Educational Research and Development Resources by Public School Districts

In January 1989, an FRSS survey was sent to a probability sample of public school districts in the United States concerning their receipt and use of research and development (R&D) resources. Following are the major results.

  • Public school districts vary widely in the extent to which they are aware of, receive, and use R&D resources produced by four major programs within the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI).
    • 82 percent recognized ERIC Clearinghouses;
    • 72 percent recognized Regional Educational Laboratories;
    • 65 percent recognized National Diffusion Network (NDN) State Facilitators; and
    • 64 percent recognized National Research and Development Centers.
    More broadly, 42 percent of the districts recognized all four types of programs, while 9 percent did not recognize any of them.

  • Of those school districts recognizing a given OERI R&D program, most reported receiving services, products, or both from that program:
    • 67 percent from ERIC Clearinghouses;
    • 66 percent from Regional Educational Laboratories;
    • 61 percent from NDN State Facilitators; and
    • 52 percent from National Research and Development Centers.
  • The resources that were received from these programs were typically used either infrequently or somewhat frequently. For ERIC, NDN, and the Centers, the most common response was that the resources were used infrequently. For the Laboratories, essentially equal proportions of the districts used the resources somewhat frequently or infrequently.
  • Of those districts receiving R&D resources from Regional Educational Laboratories, 84 percent received at least some resources that were free, and 60 percent either entirely paid for or shared the cost of some resources.

  • There was also great variability in district responses on receipt of R&D resources from any source, including but not limited to the OERI- funded programs. An estimated 23 percent reported they received R&D resources in each of six designated content areas, while 21 percent did not report receiving R&D resources in any of these areas over the survey time period (since September 1987).

  • Across the six content areas, from 38 to 62 percent of the districts had received R&D resources from some source. The resources that were received were generally considered either very useful or somewhat useful.

  • Districts said future R&D resources will be needed most in the areas of staffing and staff development, and in curriculum.

  • In an open-ended question, respondents were asked to list one R&D resource received since September 1987 that had been particularly useful. These data cannot be used to produce national estimates because of the open-ended nature of the question, the limited agreement among the responses, and the possibility of bias when using a questionnaire primarily devoted to OERI resources. Some unweighted results from the data are:
    • Of the 70 percent of the respondents who identified an R&D resource as "particularly useful," 55 percent mentioned at least one resource produced under U.S. Department of Education auspices, 27 percent an item from educational organizations, 16 percent an item from State government units, and 6 percent an item that could not be classified according to its source. (Some districts gave more than one response, and some resources had more than one source.)
    • By content area, 27 percent of responding districts mentioned resources concerning school and classroom management as "particularly useful," 18 percent concerning student populations, 12 percent concerning staffing and staff development, 6 percent concerning student testing and evaluation, 3 percent concerning early childhood education, 7 percent concerning other content areas, and 8 percent gave responses that could not be classified.