Archived Information

Tried and True: September 1997--The information in this publication was current as of September 1997, and has not been updated since. Some services described in the publication may no longer be available.

[Introduction]

About This Book

This book presents 16 tested ideas for improving teaching and learning which were developed by--and are available from--the Regional Educational Laboratories. The Regional Educational Laboratory Program (the "Lab Program") is the U.S. Department of Education's largest research and development investment designed to help educators, policy makers, and communities improve schools and help all students attain their full potential. Administered by the Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI), the network of 10 Regional Labs works to ensure that those involved in educational improvement at the local, state, and regional levels have access to the best available research and knowledge from practice.

The ideas in this book are all products of Laboratory investments in long-term research and development, an arduous process which starts with a theoretical model about how learning takes place, tests and refines the model in actual settings, and creates and continuously improves strategies to translate this new knowledge into effective teaching and learning practices. The programs highlighted in this book represent a continuum of the research and development process; they range from specific content- or audience-focused efforts up through programs that can broadly support comprehensive reform efforts.

Although the Laboratories have developed many programs over their 30-year history, this collection represents a group of programs carefully selected by a 1995 Laboratory Task Force (composed of educators and evaluators working for the Laboratories under contract with the U.S. Department of Education) to ensure that each program is endorsed and actively supported by all ten Laboratories (not just by the originator). Each "tried and true" program, at a minimum, has an extensive research base, has been kept up-to-date, has clear evaluation data which support program effectiveness, and can be adapted to a variety of school and community settings.

Each program in this guide is profiled through a series of questions:

What is the idea behind the proven practice? What does the research say about how this idea can help teaching and learning?
How was this program tested? What communities and states are using this program?
What's involved in using this program in my school and community?

These questions are designed to help teachers and administrators assess which of these programs are consistent with their own educational philosophies and curricula, and to suggest ways that such programs--and their underlying research and implementation strategies--can help all children attain high academic standards and can be a useful tool to support comprehensive school reform efforts.

About Solving Critical Problems in American Schools

When Congress created the Regional Educational Laboratories in 1965, the government established a national reserve of educational experts to take risks in developing novel research and crafting solutions to solve critical problems in American schools. Not unlike the wisdom guiding a national investment in medical and scientific research, the Laboratories are designed to identify and collect promising educational research, make direct application of the research in tests and in schools, and develop sound educational solutions to share impartially with schools. The hallmark of the Laboratories is their link to schools and teachers whose practices inform the Laboratories’ research and development process from beginning to implementation and on through revisions that ensure optimum effectiveness and utility over time. Such links are characterized by long-term commitment and trust among Laboratory staff, local teachers, administrators, and state policy makers.

How do Laboratories go about problem solving? The inquiry process draws on an existing base of research and generates knowledge of broader utility and practical application in a school or educational policy setting. A simplified step-by-step process begins with Laboratory experts and school and state educational leaders defining and analyzing the educational problem. This initial collaborative step with practitioners marks from the outset the unique Laboratory approach to school research and improvement. Next, Laboratory staff apply the knowledge base of research, develop concepts, and design solutions along with analyzing feasibility. Pilot development and testing in schools is followed by design implementation and further development and testing. At this stage, marketing and dissemination support strategies are developed. Finally, the Laboratory initiates technical assistance support to the field of teachers and other educators who are implementing the research and development work.

The underpinnings of this systematic process are the unique Laboratory capabilities of cultivating and sustaining relationships through assistance provided to schools. The Laboratories are ready to build working partnerships with schools and districts which are considering implementing or developing further any of the programs or strategies described in this document, or which are planning or conducting their own research and development using similar themes.

About Benefiting From Your Regional Laboratory

In addition to working with the Laboratories to use any of the 16 programs described in this book, you can benefit from an array of technical assistance and research services provided by the 10 Laboratories. For instance, Laboratories convene and connect practitioners from their regions in discussion groups, workshops, and networks to share and solve mutual problems, bringing to the table research-based knowledge to inform discussions and decision making. Laboratories synthesize research about significant problems and policy issues, provide policy makers with unbiased information and analyses of options, and provide educators with access to print and electronic data libraries, curricular materials, and other relevant products.

To ask about any of the programs described in this book, or to learn more about available Laboratory services or about becoming involved in Laboratory activities, contact the Regional Educational Laboratory that serves your state. A list of the Laboratories and their service regions is included in the back of this document. And at the book's closing, you will find a postscript about the Department's new long-term Research Priorities Plan which will chart continued research and development work aimed at solving the most pressing problems in our schools.


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[Acknowledgments] [Table of Contents] [Family Connections]