A rare piece of good news.
What Columbus did discover was not America per se, but a replicable and openly published route to America. And that's what made him justifiably famous. The day he reached the New World was a significant event, but it wasn't really important until he showed that he (and anyone else) could do it again.
It may be going too far to suggest that no one should ever use or accept experimenter-made measures, no matter how fair they appear to be to the experimental and control groups. However, what it does say is that we need to be very cautious in accepting experimenter-made measures.
I've had many conversations with proponents of making VAM a defined percentage of teacher evaluations, and not a single one has been able to explain why their approach to VAM is better than an alternative approach that focuses on aspects of teaching practice.
The disparities can be revealing. For example, in 2011, 71 percent of students in both Arizona and Kentucky were said to
“The consequences of untreated disabilities can be fairly severe,” said Morgan. “I hope our findings lead to greater awareness
The Laura and John Arnold Foundation has announced it is setting up a new Evidence-Based Policy and Innovation division in Washington. Its purpose will be to encourage policy makers to utilize evidence and data in their decision making. But not just encourage. According to the press release, it wants evidence and data to be "the primary factor" in policy makers' decisions.
To reach our 1962 moment will require sustained investment in development, evaluation, and scale-up of proven programs in all subjects and grade levels, and a change of policies to encourage the use of proven programs. I hope our 1962 moment is coming soon. To bring it closer, we have a lot of work to do, in innovation, evaluation, policy, and practice.
The way we can find out what works is to compare schools or classrooms assigned to use any given program with those that continue current practices. Ideally, schools and classrooms are assigned at random to experimental or control groups. That's how we find out what works in medicine, agriculture, technology, and other areas.
Let a thousand (local) flowers bloom, and then send sacks of proven flower seeds back to the locals to use as they see fit. But there is a key step in the middle of this process that only the federal government can play: evaluation, and communicating the results of the evaluations. So it should be in education.
Just as Jeb Bush and others in his party seem to be recognizing that research and development are among the few education-related activities that should remain at the federal level, the Republican-controlled Congress is proposing to eliminate the Investing in Innovation (i3) program and cut back other federal investments in research and development.
Leveraging What Works offers grants totaling $100 million nationwide to school districts willing to use the grant, along with a portion of its formula funds -- such as Title I and IDEA -- to adopt proven programs that meet the "strong" or "moderate" level of evidence of effectiveness as defined in EDGAR. Simple though it appears, Leveraging What Works would be revolutionary.
President Obama's recently released budget may or may not make its way into law, but it has already made its way into the hearts of those who believe that government programs must be held to account for producing the outcomes they are intended to produce. Red or blue, everyone should want government dollars to make a difference.
The need for evidence should be obvious, but very few federal programs have evidence of effectiveness. Few even have a process for finding out what works and encouraging grantees to use proven approaches, instead of approaches with the same desired outcomes that do not work or whose effects are unknown.