Seven Places to Look for Evidence-based Practices in Education

Updated: Jul 9

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I have spent the past five years speaking to audiences about the importance of evidence-based practices in education. In my experience, the most challenging thing about adopting evidence-based practices in the classroom is simply getting started. In this post, I want to point you towards seven places to look for evidence-based practices in education.

What Works Clearinghouse

Let’s begin our discussion with the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC). The WWC is the official clearinghouse of evidence-based practices in education and is funded and maintained by the US Department of Education’s Institute for Education Sciences (IES). The WWC offers two types of reports that help you to understand the evidence behind a variety of programs and practices. Intervention Reports provide a detailed analysis of the evidence behind (usually) branded interventions that can be deployed in classrooms. Practice Guides focus on the evidence behind teaching strategies that teachers can learn and use in a variety of contexts.

My favorite thing about the WWC is that they have an incredibly rigorous review process. Potential pieces of research are examined by a team of volunteer reviewers and scored against their Procedures and Standards Handbooks. Their standards are some of the most thorough and rigorous standards you will find. One downside to the WWC is that it is far from complete. Many amazing interventions are not yet included in their database.

Evidence for ESSA

Evidence for ESSA is another great location for those of you looking for detailed analysis of the evidence surrounding educational interventions. Here you will find reviews of evidence related to reading, math, social-emotional, attendance, science, and writing interventions. This site, maintained by the Center for Research and Reform in Education at Johns Hopkins University School of Education, is primarily focused on branded interventions and is a great place to look for educators seeking to adopt new curriculum or software programs for either whole class or targeted interventions.

Like the WWC, the Evidence for ESSA team review studies against a set of established Standards and Procedures. These are less rigorous than those of the WWC, but I still think they’re good. The site is very user friendly and offers very intuitive filtering options to help you narrow down your search.

The ERIC Database

If you have read my blog for a while, you will know that I believe that educators must develop the skills to make up their own minds about the results of research and rely less on synopsis produced by outside groups. As such, I want to point you to the ERIC database. The ERIC database is a free research database maintained by the US Department of Education. It provides direct access to thousands of research articles from hundreds of journals and non-journals. As academic databases go, it is pretty user friendly, with simple search options and a comprehensive list of filters along the left hand side of the screen. When I do training and workshops on research use, the ERIC database is my go-to source because of its excellent price point (free) and universal use in the education field.

The downside to ERIC for newbies (if you can call it a downside) is that you really do have to take some time to think about the results of the individual research articles you will find here and synthesize them into your own opinion. This is where we should all be headed as a profession, but it does take some work and skill that not everybody is adequately prepared for (that is why I offer a range of free services in The Repository).


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