Can Hopkins -- Or Anyone -- Make Research Useful?

Fair or not, education research isn't held in very high esteem.

There are several reasons for this, of course. It lacks any truly prominent peer reviewed journals (like medical research's New England Journal of Medicine or JAMA). It's produced by a broad range of academic disciplines (economics and poly sci seem to be in vogue right now), as well as by an increasing number of think tanks and advocacy groups. There's little or no agreement on proper research methods. And it often seems obscure or irrelevant in terms of topic or sample size. It's settled very few debates.

Into this challenging situation comes the latest of many efforts to create a place where educators and others can see what the research says, and how robust its findings are.

Put out (somewhat ironically) by Bob Slavin's research center at Johns Hopkins and called The BEE (Best Evidence Encyclopedia), it contains "educator-friendly summaries of research on educational programs as well as links to the full-text scientific reviews." Check it out.

Speaking of research findings, EdWeek has a pair of articles from last week that shouldn't go without note -- the first a piece on the AIR report showing that only 10 of 18 widely used middle and high school programs have evidence of even moderate effectiveness (No School Improvement Models Get Top Rating). A couple of the programs are Slavin's. The second piece highlights research suggesting that district-led reforms can work under certain conditions (Synthesis Finds District Leadership-Learning Link). Superintendents matter.


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