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

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  • Knapp, M. S. (1997). Between systemic reforms and the mathematics and science classroom: The dynamics of innovation, implementation, and professional learning. Review of Educational Research, 67, 227-266.

Can reform initiatives conceived at the highest levels of educational systems stimulate new thinking and improve practices in K-12 mathematics and science classrooms across the country? To answer this question, Knapp reviews studies and analyses of large-scale reform initiatives. These reforms share several premises: that a major constraint on the quality of teaching is the lack of alignment among elements of the system; that better teaching will result when there is alignment with challenging standards; that the lack of alignment is best addressed at the level at which policies are set; and that systemic reform strategies are not incompatible with local discretions. What is the influence of systemic reform on classroom practice? Knapp interprets the evidence from three vantage points: systemic reform as innovation and change (how new practices diffuse and are replicated); systemic reform as policy implementation (how policy intentions interact with contextual factors); and systemic reform as professional and organizational learning (what learning is necessary to realize the intentions of the reform agenda). He concludes that more must be done to provide support systems that sustain the teachers through the long-term learning required by the reforms. Finally, he proposes four standards for policy success: full embodiment of reform visions, grafting of reform ideas onto familiar practices, professional learning among teachers, and incremental increases in indicators.

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