Getting Teachers the Research They Need

“Why is there virtually no empirical education research meant to be consumed by the nation’s 3 million teachers, answering their questions,” wonders Michael Goldstein in a new article in Education Next.

There is almost nothing examining the thousands of moves teachers must decide on and execute every school day. Should I ask for raised hands, or cold-call? Should I give a warning or a detention? Do I require this student to attend my afterschool help session, or make it optional? Should I spend 10 minutes grading each five-paragraph essay, 20 minutes, or just not pay attention to time and work on each until it “feels” done?

Goldstein, the founder of MATCH Charter School and MATCH Teacher Residency in Boston, goes on to analyze why we don’t have the kind of research teachers need and describe what it would take to change things.

“Without a massive uptick in our knowledge of teacher moves,” he warns, “we’ll continue on the current reform path.”

That path is a limited replication of No Excuses schools that rely on a very unusual labor pool (young, often work 60+ hours per week, often from top universities); the creation of many more charters that, on average, aren’t different in performance from district schools; districts adopting “lite” versions of No Excuses models while pruning small numbers of very low performing teachers; and some amount of shift to online learning. Peering into that future, I don’t see how we’ll generate a breakthrough.

The article, “Studying Teacher Moves: A practitioner’s take on what is blocking the research teachers need,” will appear in the Winter 2012 issue of Ed Next and is now available online. The article is summarized in this press release.

-Education Next

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