Our focus here is on policies that have a direct impact on attainment of those goals. Many of the research efforts already recommended will help inform policy; research on the efficacy of professional development programs, for example, will be of use to policy makers who set requirements for receiving funds for that purpose. At the urging of both policy makers and educators who participated in this study, further research is proposed to review standards and assessments at the state level, and to examine teacher certification requirements at both the state and national levels.

At the district level, reform can be notoriously difficult to implement or extend. In order to identify the policies that appear to facilitate or impede the adoption and expansion of new teaching practices, case study research on schools and school districts that have successfully implemented reform is proposed. Although we don’t envision a blueprint, there may be organizational features, operational policies, or incentive structures in these schools that create an environment conducive to change.

The recommended research is described in five project areas.

State Standards and Assessments

17. Review state education standards and the assessment tools used to measure compliance through the lens of this volume. Forty-nine states now have a set of education standards that apply to their schools, and most have or are developing assessment tools to hold school districts accountable for implementation. Standards vary considerably in the amount of control they exercise over what is taught, in the content they impose, and (implicitly or explicitly) in the model of learning that they imply. It is recommended that a sample of state standards be reviewed through the lens of this volume for the following purposes:

  • To identify features of standards that support and violate the principles of learning set forth herein.

  • To evaluate the alignment of desirable features in a state’s standards with the assessment tools used for measuring compliance.

  • To evaluate the features of compliance assessments that support and conflict with the principles of learning.

  • To identify incentives and penalties that support the goal of effective education and those that appear to undermine that goal.

18. Conduct research on measures of student achievement that reflect the principles in this volume and that can be used by states for accountability purposes. Tests of student achievement that can be widely and uniformly administered across schools are the key mechanism by which policy makers hold schools accountable. This volume has clear implications

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