Ed. Dept. Funds Large-Scale Research Effort on Teaching

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The U.S. Department of Education announced last week the awarding of a five-year, $23 million contract to the University of Maryland College Park and 25 partner organizations to undertake an unusual research effort aimed at improving teaching.

The National Partnership for Excellence and Accountability in Teaching, as the initiative will be known, will have a Washington office and a policy board and management committee to govern it.

The partnership will try to build consensus around two broad issues: enhancing teachers' opportunities to learn throughout their careers, and creating conditions in schools that can support excellence in teaching.

Willis D. Hawley, the dean of the college of education at the University of Maryland, said the partnership will try to foster agreement through the knowledge gained from both research and "the wisdom of practice."

The partnership will sponsor some 30 projects cutting across a range of issues in teaching, including recruitment and selection to the profession; preservice preparation; and induction into teaching during the first years.

Charting What Works

The national partnership will also sponsor conferences and set up a World Wide Web site for every school in the country to disseminate examples of effective practices, Mr. Hawley said."We think this is quite unique," he said. "It is a commitment to the development and utilization of knowledge as a way of problem-solving."

Over five years, about 25 percent of the budget will be spent on issues related to standards and assessments, he added. One research project, for example, will look at whether teachers who have been certified as outstanding by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards produce better-educated students.

The partnership's work will mesh closely with the recommendations for improving teaching made a year ago by the National Commission on Teaching & America's Future. Researchers will study some of the states that are working to implement the commission's recommendations. ("Teaching Focus Called the Key in Reform Push," Sept. 18, 1996.)

Editorial Projects in Education, the publisher of Education Week and Teacher Magazine, is one of the partners in the effort to help disseminate information about teaching and professional-development issues.

Other partners include: the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, the American Association of School Administrators, the American Federation of Teachers, the Common Destiny Alliance, the Council for Basic Education, the Council of Chief State School Officers, the Council of the Great City Schools, the Holmes Partnership, the International Reading Association, and Michigan State University.

Also, the Middle Grade School State Policy Initiative (Carnegie Corporation of New York); the National Alliance of Business; the National Association of Elementary School Principals; the National Association of Secondary School Principals; the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards; the National Commission on Teaching & America's Future; the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics; the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education; the National Education Association; the National Staff Development Council; New American Schools; Peabody College, Vanderbilt University; Recruiting New Teachers Inc.; and Teachers College, Columbia University.

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