with student ideas to take them to the next level of sophistication, as Everyday Mathematics or ThinkerTools suggest. Some teachers have the intuition, inclination, knowledge, and experience to provide their students with these types of instructional experiences. But for the many teachers who do not, the supports that would allow them to develop these abilities are rarely available. Yet success at reaching high academic standards depends on doing just that.
On some of the most basic instructional questions—for example, how can the components of reading comprehension be developed and assessed across the school years?—we have hardly begun the research necessary to support professional practice. Of equal concern, however, is that in those areas in which the knowledge base for improving practice is strong—like early mathematics, early reading, and physics—it has had little impact on practice. The examples we highlight of high-quality research and development have, for the most part, remained on the sidelines of educational practice. Perhaps the greatest squandered resource, however, is the excellent teaching practice that produces demonstrable effects on student achievement and yet remains an anomaly, its lessons for teaching never articulated, studied, or shared.
The work we propose here has the potential to substantially improve the knowledge base to support teaching and learning by pursuing answers to questions at the core of teaching practice. It calls for the linking of research and development—of instructional programs, assessment tools, teacher education programs and materials—that is now rare. In the course of doing so, we propose to draw on the largely untapped resources of effective teaching practice and high-quality research. The downstream proposals offer hope of an impact in the relatively near term, for they build on solid work with clear implications for practice. And the upstream proposals would begin to provide a foundation for professional practice in the future where none now exists.
The panel generated this agenda assuming the infrastructure and operation of a SERP organization to support the linked, multifaceted work that is envisioned. Realizing the potential of the proposed research and development for improving teaching and learning will require the organizational infrastructure that can support research on, with, and for practice.