ing the role of the future SERP advisory board and network leadership. We focus broadly on target questions and on the panel’s view of the nature of the work to be done. Ultimately the choice of topics and the finer detail of project definition will fall to those responsible for charting a course of action.
The goal of the panel was narrowly defined by the task of agenda development. The broad purposes and organizational structure of the SERP enterprise, and the practical challenges of creating a successful organization, were questions addressed by the SERP committee. The panel went about its work assuming the existence of a SERP organization like that proposed in the committee’s report. The two reports, then, can be viewed as companion documents.
The decision to focus on learning and instruction was a function of the state of the research base from which we could draw. The National Research Council has in recent years produced syntheses of the research literature on human learning (National Research Council, 2000) and on assessment of learning (National Research Council, 2001b), as well as subject-specific syntheses in reading and in mathematics (National Research Council, 1998, 2001c). These and other explorations of the knowledge base on learning and instruction (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, 2000; RAND 2002a, 2002b) provide a rich foundation on which our effort could build. But our focus is not intended to suggest preeminence of the learning and instruction network. Indeed, it is in combination with the work of other networks—in particular, the proposed network on schools as learning organizations—that the R&D on learning and instruction will best be able to influence practice.
The goal of the SERP initiative is to improve student learning. The panel reached a critical decision at the outset that gives structure to a learning and instruction research agenda that will further that goal: to focus on practice. How effectively students learn in school is in large part a function of the effectiveness of educational opportunities teachers provide to students, as well as the transactions between the teacher and the students that make those experiences productive. The problem before the panel, then, was to consider how research and development can support the teacher’s effectiveness in providing—and helping students make use of—powerful learning opportunities. This means that the point of departure in defining the research and