Text Marries Research to Practice in Improving Teaching and Learning

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TEXT MARRIES RESEARCH TO PRACTICE IN IMPROVING TEACHING AND LEARNING Review by Susan Keiffer-Barone Handbook of Research on Improving Student Achievement, 3rd Edition By Cordon Cawetti, Editor 2004, Educational Research Service Paperback, 262 pages, $44

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Reviewer's rating: 4 out of 4

Stop. Drop everything. Order this book. It's that good. And it's that important to our kids. No, it's not a page turner or a paradigm shifter. Rather, the Handbook of Research on Improving Student Achievement is a toolbox chock-full of tried-and-true, innovative techniques that we can use today, first period, to help our students learn. Gordon Cawelti has edited a versatile text that has applications for administrators, staff developers, and teachers alike. The handbook is organized in chapters on high-performing schools, general practices, nine content areas, and staff development, each written by an expert in that field. Despite multiple authors, the book flows, as each section includes: a highly readable synthesis of current research, seven to 12 techniques that result in higher student achievement, and suggested classroom practices. This is the best kind of professional text - one that marries research to practice in improving teaching and learning.

The book begins by identifying the general attributes of effective schools and effective practice. I found these sections to be exceptionally clear as to what needs to be done for schools beyond NCLB. Effective schools focus. They make improving learning priority one. While this seems to have a "duh" factor, the authors make the point that both school staff and central office staff must work in tandem to set goals, align curriculum, and facilitate instruction. Second, effective schools create systems of accountability, with common curriculum and assessment. Finally, effective systems provide special help to low-performing schools. The text illustrates the findings with important examples of how to implement them. While presenting research, the handbook has a workshop feel to it. We are provided with a vision for better schools - and avenues others have taken to make that vision happen. …