Let the What Works Clearinghouse Know What's Important
The U.S. Department of Education's What Work's Clearinghouse (WWC) is the closest thing the nation has to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for school improvement programs.
The WWC's Intervention Reports serve something like the function of the NHTSA's crash test ratings. You can buy almost anything you want in our free market, but if you look at the government's reports first at least you'll know something objective about what you're getting into.
When the contract to run the Clearinghouse was re-competed last year, the American Institutes for Research lost to a consortium led by Mathematica, including Analytica, Chesapeake Research Associates, Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy, CommunicationWorks, Empirical Education, Human Resources Research Organization, ICF-Caliber, Optimal Solutions Group, RAND, RG Research Group, SRI International, Twin Peaks Partners, and the Universities of Arkansas and Wisconsin.
Today, I received a mass email from the WWC asking for public input here.
The What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) is soliciting feedback from users to help connect them with the best research on effective interventions and practices in education. Periodically, we will be asking for your ideas on different aspects of the WWC.... We would like your input on topics that the WWC could study in the future.
Every bit of effort should be going to:
1) school improvement product/service/program evaluations;
2) building consensus on review criteria and methodology among experts from the user, provider/developer, and evaluator communities; and
3) making evaluation methods, criteria and reviews useful to buyers of school improvement services.
If you read edbizbuzz, you have an interest in what the Clearinghouse does and I hope you'll let Mathematica and company know how you think they should be spending the taxpayers' money.