A r c h i v e d  I n f o r m a t i o n

Prisoners of Time: Research - September 1994

The Unanswered Questions

As the Commission conducted its work, it became clear that a good deal of valuable research was available to guide its deliberations. The preceding chapters reflect the scope and breadth of research examined on a number of key questions.

However, little or inadequate research was available on a number of other significant questions. The purpose of this chapter is to outline some of those questions as topics for further investigation.

The lists of questions which follow are not intended to reflect the full range of issues that need to be addressed by the research community. They do, however, suggest some of the areas in which additional research is needed to guide education policy and practice.

For many of the unanswered questions, research is appropriate. In other cases, it may be appropriate to invest in the development of carefully designed demonstrations which can contribute to our level of understanding. For example, several of the questions related to standards and technology may require the development of models, strategies, or methods that can be studied in practice.

In addition, both the research reviewed in the previous chapters and the questions outlined here suggest the critical importance of maintaining a focus on student and teacher learning in both research and practice. For example, the research on site-based decision making suggests that it makes little sense to involve teachers in the time-consuming governance of schools if they are not focusing on issues of curriculum and instruction. It makes little sense to invest large amounts of money in professional development of teachers if the strategies supported do not provide teachers with the learning opportunities they need to better their teaching.

Both the research reviewed in earlier chapters and the unanswered questions presented here suggest the need for a parallel focus on the quality of student learning. We need to ask whether and how the particular strategy being considered will make a difference in student performance both in school and later as students become workers and citizens. Research should help us understand how the issues being studied affect student learning.

Finally, as the introduction to this document indicated, research was not reviewed on three recommendations made by the Commission, all of which call for action. However, the questions presented in this chapter suggest a critical need to study what is currently happening in the reform movement. As the federal government, states, and school districts invest in reform, we need to know what is working and what is not. We need to reflect upon and use what is learned from the efforts we undertake.

We need to understand the processes for developing effective local plans to transform schools within the context of Goals 2000. We need to know what roles government, higher education, business, private foundations, social and civic organizations, parents, students, and teachers should play. We need to study the various approaches being taken and build on what works.

The questions outlined here are arranged according to the topics reviewed in previous chapters. They are not presented in priority order within each category. Rather, they reflect a range of issues to be addressed if we are to have the information necessary for future decision making.

Reclaim the Academic Day

Fix the Design Flaw

Keep Schools Open Longer to Meet the Needs of Children and Communities

Give Teachers the Professional Time and Opportunities They Need to Do Their Jobs

[Chapter Four - Give Teachers the Professional Time and Opportunities They Need to Do Their Jobs ] [Table of Contents] [References]