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Fragments: Links between Cognitive Science and Education Policy

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Date and time
Thursday, February 24, 2005

Michael J. Feuer of the National Research Council presents the second in a series of lectures on links between cognitive science and education policy. This lecture focuses on sources of complexity in the American school system and implications for the design of rational models of education policy. Feuer emphasizes the intended and unintended effects of the fragmented system of school governance that exists in the US, the limitations this imposes on the use of existing measurement tools to gauge individual and institutional progress, and the problems that arise from accountability systems that inadvertently create incentives for opportunistic behavior among students, teachers, and school authorities. Given these constraints, Feuer argues for a new approach to understanding the strengths and weaknesses of alternative governance models, defining rational goals for education policy, and setting reasonable expectations for improvement. **Michael J. Feuer** is Executive Director of the Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education at the National Research Council of the National Academies.

Michael J. Feuer is the executive director of the Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education in the National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academies, where he is responsible for a broad portfolio of studies and other activities aimed at improved economic, social, and education policymaking. He was the first director of the NRC's Center for Education and the founding director of the Board on Testing and Assessment. He holds a Ph.D. in Public Policy from the University of Pennsylvania and an MA from the Wharton School, and studied public administration at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and political science at the Sorbonne. Upon earning his doctorate, Feuer remained at Penn, teaching graduate seminars in education and working at the Higher Education Finance Research Institute, where he specialized in studies of firm-sponsored training. He then joined the faculty of the business school at Drexel University, teaching courses in public policy and management and continuing his research on the economics of human capital. Feuer was the Burton and Inglis Lecturer at Harvard University in 2004.
Lesaux leads a research program that focuses on the reading development and difficulties of children from linguistically diverse backgrounds; her developmental and instructional research has implications for practitioners, researchers, and policy-makers. Lesaux's current research includes a longitudinal study of Spanish-speakers' English reading comprehension and a study evaluating the effects of academic language instruction in urban middle school classrooms with large numbers of struggling readers. Previous research includes a study investigating language-minority learners' reading development from kindergarten through fourth grade and an interdisciplinary study that examines the interaction among kindergartners health and well-being, social competence, socioeconomic status, and language and cognitive processing skills known to be critical for reading development. Lesaux's program of research is supported by research grants from several organizations, including National Institute for Child Health and Human Development, William T. Grant Foundation, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and the Spencer Foundation. From 2004-2006, Lesaux was Senior Research Associate of the National Literacy Panel on Language Minority Youth and contributing author to three chapters in that national report.
Jennifer Steele received her B.A. in psychology in 1995, and B.Ed. in 1996 from Queen's University. She then completed an Ed.M. in 1997 at the Harvard School of Education, and an M.A. in 1999 at the Harvard University Department of Psychology. Currently Steele is pursuing my Ph.D. in social psychology. Her research interests focus primarily on stereotyping and interpersonal expectancies. One main line of research that Steele has been pursuing examines the effect of gender and race primes on people's attitudes, evaluations, and behavior. Another line of research looks at the development of stereotypes among children. She have also been examining women's experiences with discrimination and stereotype threat in male-dominated academic areas.