U. S. Department of Education Awards Contract For ‘What Works Clearinghouse’

August 7, 2002

The U.S. Department of Education has awarded a five-year, $18.5 million contract to a special joint venture to develop a national What Works Clearinghouse, which will summarize evidence on the effectiveness of different programs, products, and strategies intended to enhance academic achievement and other important educational outcomes.

The clearinghouse will help provide education decision-makers with the information they need to make choices guided by the best available scientific research. The use of research-proven strategies based on sound scientific evidence is one of the key principles of No Child Left Behind. “By providing educators with ready access to the best available scientific research evidence, the clearinghouse will be an important resource for enhancing the quality of local decision-making and improving program effectiveness,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige. “And it will help transform education into an evidence-based field.”

The What Works Clearinghouse will provide the following easily accessible and searchable online databases:

An educational interventions registry that identifies potentially replicable programs, products, and practices that are claimed to enhance important student outcomes, and synthesizes the scientific evidence related to their effectiveness.

An evaluation studies registry, which is linked electronically to the educational interventions registry, and contains information about the studies constituting the evidence of the effectiveness of the program, products, and practices reported.

An approaches and policies registry that contains evidence-based research reviews of broader educational approaches and policies.

A test instruments registry that contains scientifically rigorous reviews of test instruments used for assessing educational effectiveness.

An evaluator registry that identifies evaluators and evaluation entities that have indicated their willingness and ability to conduct quality evaluations of education interventions.

The contract was awarded to Campbell Collaboration of Philadelphia and the American Institutes for Research of Washington, D.C., along with their subcontractors, Aspen Systems of Rockville Md., Caliber Associates of Fairfax, Va., and the Education Quality Institute of Washington, D.C. The Campbell Collaboration-American Institutes for Research Joint Venture was established specifically to develop and maintain the clearinghouse, and brings together nationally recognized leaders in the field of rigorous reviews of scientific evidence.

Robert Boruch, principal investigator for the clearinghouse, chairs the Steering Group of the Campbell Collaboration, an international consortium of social science researchers who conduct systematic reviews of randomized and some non-randomized trials on the effectiveness of interventions in education and other social sectors. He is also University Trustee Chair Professor of the Graduate School of Education, the Statistics Department at the Wharton School, and the Fels Center for Government at the University of Pennsylvania.

Boruch’s work on the design of randomized field trials for planning and evaluating social and educational programs has received recognition from the American Educational Research Association (Research Review Award), the Policy Studies Organization (Donald Campbell Award), and the American Evaluation Association (Gunnar and Alva Myrdal Award).

Rebecca Herman, project director for the clearinghouse, is a principal research Analyst at the American Institutes for Research, and lead author of An Educator’s Guide to Schoolwide Reform, the premier review of scientifically based evidence on the effectiveness of prominent school reform models. She has also served as Principal Investigator for the National Longitudinal Evaluation of Comprehensive School Reform, the largest federal government investment in studying whole-school reform efforts and their impact on student achievement.