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What we know” provides the research base for school practices; it offers a critical screen up to which educators can hold their ideas and gauge their likely effectiveness. If an approach has achieved good results in other places and circumstances, and with similar students, it is likely to help a school achieve its own goals. Conversely, a school would probably decide not to implement a practice for which the research literature has revealed poor results.
Educational research is, of course, vast; a search for information on any topic yields hundreds of articles. Although many of these represent small-scale studies with limited application to any particular location, in total they represent a huge body of knowledge. Because educational research is also continually evolving, findings must always be considered subject to revision. At a typical meeting of the American Educational Research Association, hundreds of papers are presented on a wide variety of topics. Again, many of these, taken alone, are of only limited value for any particular situation. But in total, and as summarized in meta-analyses, they can yield extremely valuable information for policy-makers and practitioners.
Challenges of Educational Research