Barriers to Evidence-Based Education

Robert Slavin, director of the Center for Research and Reform in Education at Johns Hopkins University’s school of education, asks us to imagine that we used evidence to guide everything we do in schools and suggests:

educators would constantly look at their own outcomes and benchmark them against those of similar schools elsewhere. In areas that needed improvement, school leaders could easily identify proven, replicable programs. As part of the learning and adoption process, they would attend regional effective-methods fairs, send delegations to visit nearby schools using the programs, and view videos and websites to see what the programs looked like in operation.

He argues that there are there are four barriers to making this happen:

  • Too few rigorous evaluations of promising programs;
  • Inadequate dissemination of evidence of effectiveness;
  • A lack of incentives for localities to implement proven interventions; and
  • Insufficient technical assistance for implementing evidence-based interventions with fidelity.

Slavin is writing about the whole curriculum and indeed whole school interventions, but this seems to apply just as well to drug prevention.

He says that central government have a significant role in overcoming these barriers, not by determining which programmes to use but by:

  • Helping schools get better intelligence on proven programmes and persuading them that deploying them will lead to better outcomes.
  • Incentivising the take up of evidence based programmes through grant funding.
  • Supporting a variety organisations who can help local policy makers and school leaders learn about proven programmes.
  • Supporting organisations that can support the effective delivery of the programmes that schools choose to implement.

Read the whole article at Education Week: Overcoming Four Barriers to Evidence-Based Education.

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