To the Editor:
In his recent Commentary, Arthur D. Sheekey argues the need for state-based education research and development (“We Need a State-Based R&D System for Education,” July 10, 2013). We believe that a regional structure is preferable and ultimately offers more support to policymakers, districts, and teachers.
With a regional approach, collaboration takes center stage. Stakeholders across jurisdictions sit side by side with researchers, discussing areas where research is lagging behind practice. As individuals come together, new ideas and solutions emerge, often benefiting multiple jurisdictions.
This is happening in the Regional Educational Laboratory-Northeast and Islands, which is funded by the federal Institute of Education Sciences and operated under contract with our organization, Education Development Center Inc. Our research alliances are examining a number of the region’s top education questions, from improving low-performing schools to exploring the relationship between kindergarten-readiness assessments and teacher practice.
We are finding that a regional approach is of particular importance to midsize urban districts, which may have few in-state peers with common challenges. This is especially true in New England. Nothing promotes the adoption of evidence-based practices faster than buy-in from a diverse group of stakeholders.
It is worth remembering that education is, indeed, a system. We encourage teachers to share their best practices and evidence of success with their peers, regardless of classroom boundaries. Shouldn’t this advice apply to research as well?
Research, Evaluation, and Policy
Director of Research
Learning and Teaching Division
Education Development Center Inc.
A version of this article appeared in the August 28, 2013 edition of Education Week as Regional R&D Structure Best for Teachers, Districts