In a meta-analysis of 21 studies, teachers who had specific instructional processes to follow based on test outcomes and who had received explicit directions about how to share information with students based on the data from the assessments demonstrated significantly higher growth in student achievement than those teachers who used their own judgment about how to respond to the data (Fuchs and Fuchs, 1986).
Teachers may need clear guidance about how to use evidence from benchmarking systems, but there is no “teacher proof” curriculum. Well-designed benchmarking systems are closely integrated with instruction and may lighten its immense cognitive load. But they require informed, professional teachers who make key decisions to structure and support student learning. For benchmarking assessment systems to support quality instruction and improvements in student learning, teachers must understand the desired stages of progression for students of varying ages and skill levels in the particular discipline being taught.
Advancing high-quality science instruction that supports student understanding across the strands of science proficiency will require teachers and schools to take action to improve teacher knowledge and practice, support and focus instruction in productive directions, and build systems that measure and sustain ongoing improvement in teaching and learning. Research can guide practice to some extent, although important questions require additional research.
Researchers have identified, in general terms, what expert teachers know about their discipline, how to teach it, and, to a lesser extent, what they understand about student learning. Empirical links between what teachers know and student learning, however, are emergent and can be complicated to establish. As research advances in this area, more precise definitions are needed of the knowledge that is necessary for teaching and the aspects of knowledge that provide the greatest student learning return. With this understanding in hand, educators will be better positioned to craft teacher credentialing policy and design teacher learning experiences.
There is broad agreement that well-designed opportunities for teacher learning can produce desirable changes in instructional practice and improved science learning for students. Furthermore, research has identified features of quality teacher learning opportunities that can be realized through a diverse array of organizational structures (mentoring and coaching, teacher work groups, expert- and teacher-led programs of professional development) combined with distinct learning outcomes (topic-specific learning strategies, conducting and teaching inquiry science, conducting science discussions, analyzing student work, planning instruction). Well-designed