Developments in the Work to Advance Evidence-Based Policy Reform

The Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy is pleased to report on the following developments in our work to advance evidence-based policy reform:

1.    Today’s New York Times has an excellent front-page article which, citing the Coalition’s work, highlights evidence from randomized controlled trials as a critical missing piece needed for successful reform of the U.S. health care system. Authored by Times reporter Gina Kolata, the article includes quotes from Coalition Board member Bob Boruch and myself, as well as colleagues Gordon Berlin, Bill Savedoff, Mary Naylor, and Amy Finkelstein. It also cites an evidence review of the Transitional Care Model by the Coalition’s Top Tier Evidence initiative. In addition to appearing on the front page, the article is currently on the NY Times “most emailed” list, suggesting broad interest in the topic.

2.    New randomized trials have produced encouraging initial evidence that DoED’s evidence-based Investing in Innovation (i3) Fund is successfully identifying and funding interventions that reliably increase student achievement when implemented on a large scale. The Department of Education’s i3 Fund is one of the new federal “tiered evidence” programs, incorporating key evidence-based concepts that our organization has helped advance. A central feature of this approach is that the largest grants are awarded to fund large-scale implementation of program models backed by strong scientific evidence of effectiveness. Among the federal tiered-evidence programs, i3’s evidence standard for such scale-up grants is particularly rigorous, requiring a demonstration of policy-important effects in scientifically-credible evaluations, with a preference for well-conducted randomized trials.

The key question is whether the government’s use of such evidence to select program models for scale up will actually lead to the hoped-for gains in educational achievement. Encouraging initial answers to that question are emerging from new randomized trials evaluating three of the four program models awarded scale-up grants in i3’s initial year: Reading Recovery, Success for All, and Teach for America. See our two-page summary of the new findings.

3.    To follow up on our earlier communications, we’d appreciate your help in sharing the following with parties that might be interested:

·      The Coalition’s new competition to select and fund low-cost randomized trials. The deadline for prospective applicants to submit a letter of interest (three pages) is February 14.

·      The Coalition’s open online workshop in evidence-based policy. The workshop’s next set of phone sessions, providing hands-on experience in reviewing studies, will take place on Thursdays at noon      EST from April 24 through June 12. Interested parties should contact David Anderson (danderson@coalition4evidence.org, 202-239-1248).

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