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Harvard Professor Laments Lack of Innovative Solutions That Come From Education Research

Harvard Professor Laments Lack of Innovative Solutions That Come From Education Research

Harvard professor Thomas Kane calls the battle to close the achievement gap “the education equivalent of the fight against cancer.”

But unlike research conducted in the medical and pharmaceutical field, he says that education research doesn’t get the opportunity to "follow clear paths to turn top research into game-changing innovations.”

"Kane, a professor of education at Harvard's Graduate School of Education, points out that there is no effective educational equivalent of the Food and Drug Administration, where medical research is rigorously vetted and translated into solutions,” said

Kane cites the 50-year-old Coleman Report as an example of education research that translated into solution.

"The Coleman Report drew national attention to chronic educational inequality and achievement gaps by race. And while scholarship and research since 1966 have challenged some of his conclusions as misleading, even wrong, many of the core problems he highlighted remain,” the article said.

While Kane says educational research follows the medical model, it does not get replicated into action like medical research does. "In medicine, often you'll have panels recommending clear standards of care. We have no such thing in education,” he said.

"We have an approach to funding education research that seems geared toward building a central knowledge base or building the expertise among a small group of experts, but there's just no way to translate that into decisions out in the field. They're completely separate worlds.”

Moving forward, Kane believes a pivotal way to help states maintain good education systems is by using research and data to help them evaluate programs and policies.

"What I would argue is that a much larger share of the federal education research dollars ... should be devoted to helping states begin to use the data that they've been accumulating to start evaluating their own programs and policies.”

Read the full story.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor


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