I appreciate your belief, optimism, and commitment to all children's abilities to learn to read. As you understand university faculty members' work with teachers, how might they work with teachers so that they are able not only to make use of existing research on effective programs but also to conduct their own action research projects? Is it possible that with such research skills teachers might be expected, or encouraged, to modify the implementation of the programs they use? As I commented above, I take it for granted that teachers will alter programs according to their theories of practice, their understandings of their students, and the constraints and possibilities of their school contexts. Is there a way that what I take to be inevitable alterations might enhance, rather than harm, the implementation of programs? -S.T.
Helping teachers conduct action research and in the process teaching them to conduct their own action research is one of the important ways university faculty can facilitate site-based management. Eventually teachers would be able to independently conduct action research to address concerns as they arise. Yes, I would encourage teachers to modify the implementation of programs based on their own research with their own students. I don't disagree with anything you say here and I expect that the alterations, especially those based on teacher-driven research would enhance learning. My concerns with programs in this co-reform effort is not with how the programs are implemented, but with teachers knowing about programs and knowing what we've already learned from research about the effects teachers can expect with different programs for different students. There are educational programs and instructional strategies for which there is a great deal of evidence of effectiveness with many different populations of students. There are other educational programs that have never been researched to determine their effectiveness. There are also those programs and strategies that have been researched and been demonstrated to not be very effective for most students. Unfortunately, teachers frequently are never introduced to the programs and strategies with the strongest empirical evidence of effectiveness. More often, teachers only learn about the programs that accompany current theory regardless of the effectiveness of the programs and often without mention as to whether or not there is available research about their effectiveness.