Evidence-based education employs practices and policies – at all levels of an education system – based on appropriate and methodologically robust evidence about their effects (costs and benefits). We draw inspiration for this definition from Coe et al. (2000). In essence, evidence-based school leaders actively review the best available research evidence as part of their school improvement process.
Claiming to be ‘evidence-based’ is an assertion which must be justified. Schools need to understand the impact of their actions on important student outcomes (Hattie, 2008); to do this requires high standards of evidence, not simply correlations and anecdotes. With too many examples of ‘common sense’ prevailing over the guidance offered by robust evidence (McCord, 1978), there is a clear need for help and support to be available. As Coe et al. (2000) put it (cf. Tymms, 1999), “common sense is no substitute for research”.
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