As this edition goes to print, almost all governors are pressing for changes in the nation’s core educational standards. Their aim is to create more coherence in a heretofore patchwork system, to promote college and career readiness, and to benchmark U.S. standards to those of the world’s top-performing countries. Whether these changes yield better results for children has everything to do with knowledge and how we act on it to transform teaching and learning.
If, for example, new standards are shaped more by politics than by sound pedagogy, they will not truly benefit children.
If standards are internationally benchmarked, but we fail to infuse teacher preparation and professional development programs with the knowledge teachers need to better serve diverse students, they will not fully benefit children.
If standards drive accountability, but we fail to formulate more enlightened education policy and secure funding equity for schools, they will not fully benefit children.
And, if standards shape a spate of new national report cards and online databases, but educators and families members have little access to the data or data is not presented in a way that gives them the tools to strengthen schools, the standards will not truly benefit children.
In short, to realize the promise of these changes, we must infuse the best of what we do with the best of what we know about how to transform schooling. Actionable knowledge, the focus of this August edition of the IDRA Newsletter, intends precisely this outcome. In "Actionable Knowledge: Putting Research to Work for School and Community Action," Laurie Posner, MPA, describes the dramatic growth of educational research and data in recent decades, why a profusion of knowledge has all too infrequently translated into action and what can be done to close the gap. "Pedagogical Content Knowledge: What Matters Most in the Professional Learning of Content Teachers" by Dr. Adela Solís examines the kinds of knowledge needed by content teachers and why pedagogical content knowledge must be a focus.
Also in this edition, you will find an award-winning essay by Jamilleth Hernández, an eighth grade tutor with the IDRA Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program at Dr. Javier Saenz Middle School in La Joya, Texas. Seeing school through the eyes of Ms. Hernández reminds us, as nothing else can, why informed action to improve public education is urgent, why we must commit as a community to schools that work for all children, and why what we do in the lives of youth each day matters so very much.
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[©2009, IDRA. This article originally appeared in the August 2009 IDRA Newsletter by the Intercultural Development Research Association. Every effort has been made to maintain the content in its original form. However, accompanying charts and graphs may not be provided here. To receive a copy of the original article by mail or fax, please fill out our information request and feedback form. Permission to reproduce this article is granted provided the article is reprinted in its entirety and proper credit is given to IDRA and the author.]