formal education can find moderate- to high-paying jobs. It is now a service- and knowledge-driven economy in which high levels of literacy and numeracy are required of almost everyone to achieve a good standard of living (National Research Council, 1999a; Secretary’s Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills, 1991; Murnane and Levy, 1996; Judy and D’Amico, 1997; Packer, 1997). Moreover, to address the challenges of, for example, low-performing schools, the “achievement gap,” and language diversity, educators today require new knowledge to reengineer schools in effective ways.
To meet these new demands, rigorous, sustained, scientific research in education is needed. In today’s rapidly changing economic and technological environment, schooling cannot be improved by relying on folk wisdom about how students learn and how schools should be organized. No one would think of designing a rocket to the moon or wiping out a widespread disease by relying on untested hunches; likewise, one cannot expect to improve education without research.
Knowledge is needed on many topics, including: how to motivate children to succeed; how effective schools and classrooms are organized to foster learning; the roots of teenage alienation and violence; how human and economic resources can be used to support effective instruction; effective strategies for preparing teachers and school administrators; the interaction among what children learn in the context of their families, schools, colleges, and the media; the relationship between educational policy and the economic development of society; and the ways that the effects of schooling are moderated by culture and language. In order that society can learn how to improve its efforts to mount effective programs, rigorous evaluations of innovations must also be conducted. The education research community has produced important insights on many of these topics (we trace some of them in Chapter 2). However, in contrast to physics and other older sciences, many areas of education are relatively new domains for scientific study, and there is much work yet to do.
Everyone has opinions about schooling, because they were all once in school. But in this ever more complex world, in which educational problems tend to be portrayed with the urgency of national survival, there is (again) an understandable attraction to the rationality and disciplined style of science. Simply put, for some problems citizens, educators, administrators,