Evidence about educational leadership or innovation in education does not guarantee implementation without problems. There is growing awareness that evidence in one context may not hold in other contexts (see my last News Alert *1). There are also more doubts about the results of social or medical science in general (see my earlier blog on Evidence *2). The new focus (Long Zhao) on negative side-effects of seemingly good solutions also complicates the issue of evidence.
The practitioner, the teacher or the schoolleader, might have the impression that she or he is left with empty hands. Not by the imagination of the many approaches, theories or concepts that could inspire thinking over problems in practice, but by the lack of relevant evidence in choosing solutions.
Surprisingly (so it seems) at the same time there is a tendency to train teacher and schoolleaders in research skills,and to establish data teams in school. Why use research methodologies that don’t deliver even when used by experts? My answer would be that the methodologies really can help solving a particular problem at a particular school when teachers and schoolleaders are enthusiast about using these methodologies (if these are kept simple).
Optimists however also see a beckoning perspective that experiences in one school can be translated to other schools to foster innovation processes there. But in reality transfer still proves to be very difficult. In the Netherlands we experiment with Laboratories for Research in Education, where practitioners and university researchers cooperate in solving practical problems.A recent report (in Dutch *3) states that these laboratories work, however not much is said about the difficulties of transfer of solutions, nor about results (except for research skills).