the assessment information becomes useful for instruction only if instructional approaches to developing that understanding are known and available to teachers.

While we discuss this research first, clearly the ongoing work of developing and improving assessment tools must be directly influenced by other components of the research agenda. The definition of comprehension used to establish internal validity will depend on what one wants students to know and be able to do. As research knowledge improves, the benchmarks change (see Initiative 4), and so must the assessments. SERP will be a particularly productive environment for this iterative work, because the research on these interdependent questions is conducted within a single, well-integrated network.

Initiative 2: Teacher Knowledge and Metacognition Strategy Instruction

While reading comprehension has been defined as upstream because much of the fundamental work to understand and measure the phenomenon has not yet been done, strategy instruction provides an opportunity for improving comprehension that is further downstream. Several programs, including reciprocal teaching, text talk, and questioning the author, provide clearly articulated approaches to metacognitive strategy instruction that substantially improve reading comprehension, particularly for struggling students. While the techniques involved can be simply and briefly described, to effectively execute strategy instruction in the classroom proves a challenge for many teachers.

The panel therefore recommends an R&D effort to develop instructional materials, protocols, and supports for teachers who are learning to use strategy instruction in the classroom. The effort should include careful identification of teacher conceptions regarding student learning and effective instruction in reading comprehension, as well as their divergence with the research base that undergirds the intervention.5 Instructional


Clearly there is overlap across disciplines in research on teacher conceptions of student learning and of effective teaching. One benefit of carrying out a program of research in the context of a network on learning and instruction is that the work on various research projects within the network would be closely integrated and designed so that results can easily be compared and accumulated.

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