ties are showing success, their practices are not widely shared, and knowledge about how to implement effective instructional strategies to help all students learn to challenging standards is also largely unknown.
Second, implicit in the theory is the notion that motivated teachers would seek guidance about improving instruction and districts would provide the support teachers need, largely by making more widely available the existing array of professional development opportunities. Recent research suggests, however, that the amount and kind of professional development is inadequate to meet teachers' needs, and that teachers continue to feel unprepared to teach all students to challenging standards (National Center for Education Statistics, 1999; National Partnership for Excellence and Accountability in Teaching, 1999).
As a result of our examination of the theory of action, the committee concludes that the theory needs to be expanded to make explicit the link between standards, assessments, accountability, instruction, and learning. In our view, standards-based policies can affect student learning only if they are tied directly to efforts to build the capacity of teachers and administrators to improve instruction.
What would such a system look like? In our view, the focus would be on teaching and learning, and the theory of action revolves around the links between all the elements and instruction. We call the expanded system an “education improvement system,” and it is represented graphically in Figure 2-2.
The theory of action behind an education improvement system relies on information and responsibility. Everyone—students, parents, teachers, principals, district administrators, state officials, and policy makers at the district, state, and federal levels—knows what it is expected, what they will be measured on, and what the results imply for what they should do next. Those directly responsible for raising student performance—teachers and schools—have access to high-quality information about performance and about the effects of their instruc-