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Conserving a Legacy: Presidential Leaders in Education Research

Abstract

"This essay briefly describes some of the early AERA presidents who were empiricists, several of them directors of research, and how their work connects with some of the issues of design, measurement, analysis, and interpretation today. Beginning with the first president of AERA, a number of presidents through the late 1940s are highlighted, as well as how their work spoke to the times they lived in and how its impact continues through this centennial year. The history stops with the 1950s, which ushered in a new era of significant innovations in research methodology and statistical techniques, strong criticisms of the quality of education research, and a growing recognition of the importance of education in promoting U.S. economic development and social reform. The intent of this essay is to discuss how the legacy of education research, unfamiliar to many of us, shaped how we approach issues of testing, measurement, and student ability--some for the best, others fueling debates and inertia for sustainable reform."

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