Annotated Bibliography of Resources for Educational Reform, Coherent Teaching Practice, and Improved Student Learning

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  • Elmore, R. F. (1996). Getting to scale with good educational practice. Harvard Educational Review, 66 (1), 1-26.

Why do good ideas about teaching and learning have so little impact on educational practice? Elmore says that innovations that require large changes in the core of educational practice are seldom widely incorporated into practice. The core is the relationship between knowledge, teachers, and student, i.e., how teachers understand the nature of knowledge, how they relate to students around knowledge, how these ideas are manifested in practice, and how schools are structured. Most changes in schools do not touch the core, so while schools do change, the basic conceptions of knowledge and the role of teachers and students in constructing knowledge remain relatively stable. Elmore suggests that the problem of getting new ideas about teaching and learning into practice resides primarily with the incentive structures that teachers work under. Current incentives tend to mobilize teachers who are already intrinsically motivated to question their practice. How can good educational practice move beyond pockets of excellence? Elmore offers four proposals: develop external norms for best practice; develop organizational structures that intensify and focus norms of good practice such as those that encourage collaboration between teachers; create intentional processes for reproduction of successes; and create structures that promote learning of new practices and incentive systems that support them.

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