University of Virginia and Jefferson Education Accelerator launch national database of education researchers to bridge the gap between innovation and efficacy

WASHINGTON, DC, February 23, 2017 – The University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education and Jefferson Education Accelerator (JEA) today announced a joint venture to develop the nation’s first-ever comprehensive database of education researchers.

“The $10 billion edtech market is rife with shiny products that promise to transform teaching and learning. But educators have precious little data to understand which products are most likely to work in various environments,” said Curry School Dean Robert Pianta. “The market is clamoring for better evidence, but the research community feels like a black box to entrepreneurs and investors. Who are the rock stars of education research? What sort of expertise can they bring to bear on the design and implementation of new products?”

The National Education Researcher Database (NERD) aims to bring transparency to the supply side of education innovation by cataloging all education researchers in the country, centralizing information about them in an easily navigable and freely available database. A key goal of NERD is to facilitate engagement between unlikely collaborators in the education community – researchers and edtech entrepreneurs – to bring research to the forefront of decision making for entrepreneurs, investors and district leaders.

“This endeavor is another important step in the growing effort to elevate merit over marketing,” said Bart Epstein, Founding CEO of JEA. “By helping education companies find researchers early and engage them as partners, advisors, and evaluators, we expect that companies will build better products that are based more on learning science.”

Later this year, public users such as educators, entrepreneurs, and policymakers will be able to view and search over 10,000 researcher profiles, directly contact relevant researchers, and “follow” their favorite researchers to receive updates on their accomplishments and availability.

The database will be built by a team of technical experts under the guidance of NERD’s National Advisory Board, which will include some of the nation’s leading education researchers and entrepreneurs, as well as leaders from education-focused public and private industry, government agencies, and philanthropy. Among the newly elected board members are former directors of the U.S. Office of Educational Technology, Joseph South and Richard Culatta; Tonika Cheek Clayton of NewSchools Venture Fund; Larry Friedman of the American Institutes for Research; and Kathy Stack from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation.

The creation of the database is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

“The Kauffman Foundation is pursuing a comprehensive strategy for students from pre-k through college attainment,” said Aaron North, Vice President of Education with the Kauffman Foundation, “Educators, policymakers, funders, and leaders need quality evidence of what’s working for our students and educators. This database will allow access to expertise that can help find answers to tough questions and provide information so funders and others can better support the field.”

For more information about NERD, and to stay in the loop on its development and launch, visit the website.



About the Curry School of Education

The University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education located in Charlottesville, Va., is ranked among the nation’s top 25 graduate schools of education. To its 2,300 undergraduate, graduate and professional students, the school offers nationally-ranked degree programs in education and health centered around human development. Through 3 research centers, nearly 20 labs, and dozens of individual projects, faculty and students at Curry conduct rigorous, practical research that supports both the quality of teaching, learning and clinical practices and the decision making of district, state and national leaders.


About Jefferson Education Accelerator

The Jefferson Education Accelerator (JEA) brings together the know-how, capital, and resources to address the unique needs of educators, entrepreneurs and organizations. Combining the unabashedly innovative spirit of education technology with the academic rigor and excellence of one of the nation’s top-ranked education programs, JEA identifies and evaluates the most promising education solutions in the U.S. and puts them on track to achieving scale and making impact.

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