Using the concept of "opportunity to learn" to frame the discussion, this paper reviews past attempts to collect classroom-level data, and discusses whether the mapping of the intricate, multidimensional activities of the classroom can be improved via better survey designs and instruments, or via other forms of data.. Teacher surveys seem an effective and efficient way to gather information; more instructional strategy questions should be asked to assess any shifts from traditional to "reform-oriented" pedagogy. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) should increase its efforts to assess student learning by adding a stronger student component, and should add further items on teachers' background and preparation for teaching to its teacher surveys. As long as public education remains a federal policy issue, NCES has a key role to play.
Originally published in: From Data to Information: New Directions for the National Center for Education Statistics, NCES 96-901, U.S. Dept. of Education, 1996, pp. 3.1-3.28.
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