July/August 2011 Issue • Volume 39 • Issue 6

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Science Policy

Cora Marrett Confirmed as NSF Deputy Director


Cora Marrett

Sociologist Cora B. Marrett was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the National Science Foundation (NSF) Deputy Director by the U.S. Senate on May 26, 2011. Marrett was nominated for the NSF deputy director position by President Obama on August 5, 2010, and then re-nominated in the new Congress on January 5, 2011. She is the 12th deputy of the Foundation. In February, she was named Senior Advisor for Foundation Affairs in the Office of the Director at the NSF until the senate confirmed her nomination (see the March 2011 Footnotes).  She served as NSF acting director when Arden L. Bement resigned in June 2010, and before Subra Suresh was confirmed as NSF director in October 2010.  Previously, Marrett served as the assistant director for NSF’s education and human resources (EHR) directorate from 2007-2009. From 1992-1996, Marrett served as NSF’s assistant director for social, behavioral and economic sciences (SBE). "Dr. Marrett is a familiar leader at the agency, and her continued commitment to NSF’s mission makes her well suited for this role," said NSF Director Suresh. "The agency will truly benefit from her years of experience at both the federal and university levels." 


Report Finds Current Accountability Programs in Education Do Little to Improve Achievement

The National Academies of Science Board on Testing and Assessment recently released a report, titled Incentives and Test-Based Accountability in Education, which examines the effects of test-based incentive programs. Edited by sociologist Michael Hout and Stuart W. Elliott, the report reviews and synthesizes relevant research from economics, psychology, education, and related fields about how incentives work in educational accountability systems. In recent decades, federal and state governments have increasingly relied on programs like No Child Left Behind, high school exit exams, teacher performance pay, and direct student rewards as a way to raise accountability in public education and improve achievement. Though these programs differ from each other in many ways, they all use the same strategy of adding consequences to students’ test performance as a way of improving education.The report looks across all the rigorous studies of these different incentive programs and concludes that they have not consistently generated positive effects on student achievement. The report, Sponsored by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Flora Hewlett Foundation, offers recommendations for how to improve current test-based accountability policies and highlights directions for further research. For more information, see www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12521.

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