The research agenda that we propose would represent a major, long-term investment in education research and development. We note in conclusion some of the features of the SERP organization, and of the agenda, that support both the quality of that investment and the likelihood that it will have an impact on practice.
To ensure quality, method is carefully matched to the question under study. No single methodology is favored in the agenda. We propose programs of research motivated by significant questions of educational practice and draw on the variety of methodologies required both to understand processes and to rigorously test outcomes.
The proposed program would have the ability to investigate empirically the problems of instructional practice in SERP field sites at which high-quality data can be collected longitudinally. The agenda calls for careful attention at the start to the development and testing of outcome measures, work that is often overlooked in research, but that is critical to the quality and interpretability of the results.
Since much of the research and development will take place in field sites, the R&D teams will be able to document critical elements of context; important differences among students from one classroom or school to the next can substantially affect outcomes. At the same time, no matter how carefully a single study is designed, confidence in results can be ensured only when they are replicated. Hence, the SERP agenda emphasizes both replication of research findings and testing of their range of applicability.
Impact requires actively seeking out high-quality research that is important for educational practice and building on it. But impact also requires the design of research studies that can take the knowledge from practice and incorporate it into testable propositions that can be shared publicly. Much of what teachers learn from repeated observation of student learning and response to instruction is never formally articulated, tested, or shared with others in their professional community. Proposed research designed to learn from practice can formalize the knowl