Click for next page ( 2


The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement



Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page 1
xenu~iv Amman Envision a cadre of leading scientists and practitioners working together on a coherent, highly focused pro- gram of education research that is tightly coupled and interactive with practice. They are guided and supported by the kind of organizational infrastructure needed to plan, manage, and carry out a sustained program of research and development. They work in collaborative teams, and much of the research is carried out in school settings around the country. As the research teams learn over time how to cultivate the substance and processes of research-based practice, they come to embody a new model of practitioners and researchers familiar with and comfortable in both the world of research and of practice. The Strategic Education Research Partnership (SERP) pro- posed here is designed to make this vision a reality. It has several distinct dimensions. First, SERP is a program of "use- inspired" research and development. This means that problems of practice will be at center stage in determining the research and development agenda; the program will place as much emphasis on follow-through to link knowledge and products as on theo- retical grounding. Second, SERP is an organization, designed to provide the infrastructure to make a coherent, sustained re- search, development, and implementation program possible. And third, SERP is a partnership between the research and prac- tice communities, and among the communities that will need to join together to support the creation and maintenance of the SERP enterprise. E X UTIVE SUMMARY 1

OCR for page 1
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ THE NEED There have been many programs of educational research supported by federal agencies and private foundations designed to improve student outcomes. They have generated important research-based knowledge, but their efforts have not effectively penetrated educational practice. Education does not presently function like medicine or agriculture, where close linkages be- tween research and practice have had major influences on both. Three sets of powerful but underutilized resources convince us that a SERP research and development enterprise could sup- port genuine improvements in student achievement: (1) ad- vances in the disciplines with relevance to education (cognitive science, developmental psychology, organizational theory) that are largely untapped; (2) natural variations in educational prac- tice that have not been studied systematically; and, (3) innova- tions in educational practice and policy that have been demon- strated to be effective, at least in particular settings, but have not been sufficiently developed or studied for purposes of moving to scale so that they have broad influence on student outcomes. The problem of effectively capitalizing on these resources poses several challenges: There is currently no institution in which education practitioners and researchers from a variety of disci- plines are provided with support to interact, collaborate, and learn from each other. Thus, researchers often fait to bring important understandings to the stage of usabil- ity, and practitioners have no way either to analyze and systematize their own wisdom of practice or to influence the directions and shape of the research agenda. More- over, researchers have little opportunity to see and try to understand the variety of practices and outcomes that characterize the operational setting. There are too few resources and too little stability in funding to support the development and evaluation of promising innovations in teaching, curriculum, and assessment, so even the best innovations frequently are not carried beyond initial demonstrations of effective- ness. 2 STRATEGIC EDUCATION RESEARCH PARTNERSHIP

OCR for page 1
There is no site where a carefully vetted knowledge base about instructional innovation, school reform, and education policy resides and accumulates. There are few vehicles for conceptually coherent research planning so that research agendas tend to re- semble topical lists responsive to neither the strengths of research nor the complexities of practice. ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ TH E GOAL The Strategic Education Research Partnership is designed to reshape the education research and development landscape to meet these challenges: SERP will seek to forge a new kind of partnership among researchers, practitioners, and policy makers, generating col- laborative work that will in turn help develop new capabilities among researchers and educators. This means that SERP needs to be a place where researchers, policy makers, and practition- ers can work collaboratively, where the ethos is one of respect for the many kinds of knowledge and experience needed to advance research-based educational practice. SERP will seek to build a coherent research program with wel~justified priorities. There must be organizational mecha- nisms for coordinated agenda setting, frequent stock taking, and a conscious process of iterative knowledge building. The development of common research protocols and data systems will also promote coherence and responsiveness to the needs of practice and policy. SERP will seek to ensure high standards and rigorous at- tention to methodological excellence. There must be a deep institutional commitment to quality assurance and review pro- cesses, expressed both in appropriate oversight mechanisms and in a culture of rigor and excellence that infuses the entire enterprise. SERP will take research into field settings so that innova- tions can be introduced, analyzed, developed, and evaluated. Equally important, researchers will be able to study what is going on in actual practice. The organizational capacity to gain and support access to clinical research settings schools, school districts, teacher education programs is critical. By lowering EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 3

OCR for page 1
the formidable transaction costs for researchers and schools of establishing a working partnership, the use-inspired orientation and collaborative relationships that characterize the SERP vi- sion become far more attainable. SERP will seek to attractfirst-rate scientists and practition- ers to work in and with the field sites by creating conditions for the induction of new members into the collaborative work and facilitating expanded career opportunities for both the research- ers and practitioners who commit to the SERP use-inspired research and development. A major incentive for researchers and reflective practitioners will be the availability of high-qual- ity data, and the reduced transaction costs of carrying out re- search in school settings. SERP will promote access to and use of the information and innovations it generates. This will require organizational com- mitment to accumulating and making sense of findings, careful screening for scientific quality, and the investigation of effective mechanisms for communication and the development of mul- tiple presentations of knowledge for different audiences. Finally, to function effectively, the SERP enterprise will require a supporting infrastructure that provides the security of an extended time frame and stability across periods of political change, as well as a great deal more money than has tradition- ally been devoted to educational research. The initial amount must be sufficient to provide for the effective incubation of a new research and development system for education. THE SERP DESIGN The structure envisioned for SERP has three basic compo- nents: (1) a central organization or headquarters responsible for program design and coherence, quality control, communica- tions, financial oversight, and Tong-term planning, where an internal research program is also located; (2) distributed re- search and development teams that muster the nation's exper- tise to the enterprise; and (3) a set of field sites school districts or groups of districts where practitioners and researchers work together to define and pursue key questions and puzzles re- garding practice and lines of development and implementation research. All of these headquarters, research teams, and field sites will make common cause in a series of collaborative re- search and development networks. 4 STRATEGIC EDUCATION RESEARCH PARTNERSHIP

OCR for page 1
We propose three initial networks that we believe are criti- cal to the SERP mission. The first is a learning and instruction network, which would build its agenda from the problems of classroom practice and approach its research and development through the lenses of the cognitive and psychological sciences. The second network, closely tied to the first, is on schools as organizations. It would build its agenda from the problems of creating organizational environments and incentives that en- courage organizational learning and support productive changes in instruction. Its research will draw on sociology and organiza- tional theory to help schools and school systems become more effective. The third network would focus on education policy. Its agenda would respond to the needs of policy makers to better understand the outcomes and consequences of such policy decisions as class- and school-size changes, accountability stan- dards, school governance changes, and education finance ar- rangements. Much of its work would draw on the economic and political sciences. The proposed SERP networks would provide the physical link between schools and school districts, on one hand, and the research community, on the other. This partnership in a com- mon and carefully planned enterprise is what will make pos- sible the key innovative characteristics of the SERP endeavor: Placement of the problems of practice at center stage in determining the research agenda; Exploitation of many sources of knowledge, includ- ing behavioral and social science research, subject-mat- ter scholarship, and, not least, effective practice; Systematic linkage among elements that are typi- cally treated separately in educational research stu- dent learning, teacher learning, the organizational con- text of schooling, and education policy; Development of mechanisms that accumulate knowledge dynamically; Rigorous attention to replication and the system- atic building of scientific knowledge; The construction of a detailed, longitudinal data- base; and Conceptualizing student, teacher, and organiza- tional learning as long-term developmental processes. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 5

OCR for page 1
LA U N C H ~ N G S E R P This report is addressed to state and federal policy makers, educators and administrators, the research and university com- munities, and private foundations and businesses. It is a call to mobilize the nation's resources and political will, the power of scientific research, and the expertise of those who educate the nation's children through a Strategic Education Research Part- nership. Linking research to education practice effectively will re- quire the commitment of those who are ultimately responsible for the form that practice takes. There are, clearly, many stake- holders for whom education issues are a high priority, but none with greater authority over, or responsibility for, student out- comes than state policy makers. Therefore, we recommend that a compact of state governments be formed for the purposes of collectively advancing the knowledge base and instructional resources to support their single largest commitment: the provi- sion of education. Although states have not historically played a major role in education research and development, the logic for that role is sound: the size and continuity of an investment in research and development should reflect the return it offers in the form of improved service delivery and lower costs in the long run (e.g., grade repetition and special education). Never- theless, we do not propose SERP as a state activity alone. To promote change of the magnitude we propose here will require building a broad coalition of powerful partners. That coalition might include Congress, federal agencies, and private founda- tions and businesses. To demonstrate the benefits of a research and development investment of this kind will require funding during a launch and start-up period. The costs of start-up will vary enormously depending on the assumptions about the pace of launch and the number and size of individual projects. Under the assumption that capacity to do the kind of work envisioned will have to be built during the first decade, as will the commitment of re- sources, we anticipate a relatively conservative program size and pace of expansion during the start-up years. An illustrative set of estimates commissioned by the committee put start-up costs in the neighborhood of S500 million over seven years. 6 STRATEGIC EDUCATION RESEARCH PARTNERSHIP

OCR for page 1
Launch activities in the first two years would cost relatively little. Costs would build in the later years, as the research projects increase in number and scope. Ultimately, a SERP enterprise capable of carrying out the broad mission envisioned here will require a considerably larger investment. While the size of the investment envisioned may be daunting given the meager funds traditionally allocated for education R&D and current fiscal strains, even 0.5 to 1 percent of the budget for elementary and secondary education would yield two to four times the amount estimated for the first seven years. For any sector of the economy, this is a relatively small rate of investment in research and development. Negotiating funding for a proof-of-concept period of 7 to 10 years is, in our judgment, a prerequisite for success. Because of their greater flexibility, we call on private foundations to take the lead in funding in the early years. This is a leadership role that major foundations have taken on at critical junctures in the past. Additional substantial backing might be sought from busi- nesses, the U.S. Congress, and federal agencies during the launch stage. We propose that states not incur a financial obligation when they join the compact, but that they commit to contribut- ing a small portion (a fraction of 1 percent) of their K-12 spend- ing further down the road, so that political commitment will grow to embrace financial obligation. How much of that investment will be new, and how much can come from available resource pools, or from redirecting resources currently allocated to activities that can be carried out as part of the SERP effort, will be determined as SERP unfolds. For example, resources through Title I and through the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 support research-based practice, evaluation of practice, and data collection and evaluation. Just as we propose SERP as an effort to build on, and make more of, existing research and development efforts, start-up efforts can also build from existing resources that states may be able to use more effectively utilized in the SERP organizational context. With this report SERP ends as a National Academies activ- ity and begins a new chapter. Conceived and nurtured as an initiative of the National Academies, its future success now must hinge on the will and resources of a broad coalition of partners committed to improving student learning in the United EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 7

OCR for page 1
States. The National Academies recognize the critical impor- tance of improving education in this nation and therefore stand ready to support the partners in SERP as they move forward to shape the SERP agenda and implement the bold ideas set forth in this report. 8 STRATEGIC EDUCATION RESEARCH PARTNERSHIP