The What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) has recently released their latest draft of changes to their procedures and standards. There are many changes in this latest version, and this will continue to improve the expectations of what counts as “good” research. The WWC is a federally-funded clearinghouse of education programs, products, practices, and policies. Since its creation in 2002, the WWC has set a bar for research quality. Intervention studies in the United States are often designed in order to meet WWC standards (either with or without reservations). For this reason, their standards have substantial influence over the quality of research being conducted in the United States.
There are a few revisions to the latest version of the WWC Procedures and Standards Handbook of interest to supporters of evidence-based education. First, the standards will be applied uniformly across topics, resulting in more consistent ratings and decisions across topics. The WWC will align their rating so effectiveness with the ESSA evidence tiers, making this another resource for schools looking for interventions with particular levels of evidence. Finally, the WWC will require effectiveness ratings to be based on independent measures. The author prefers to think of this as the Slavin Rule, as the use of over-aligned and/or researcher- and developer-made measures was something he argued against, instead advocating for the use of standardized, fair measures to determine the impact of a particular program or practice.
These changes by the WWC will have important implications in the world of educational research. These rules guide the design of much of the intervention research conducted in the educational world, and these changes, especially the Slavin Rule, will improve the quality of the evidence produced and used to determine “What Works?”
What Works Clearinghouse (2022). What Works Clearinghouse Procedures and Standards Handbook, Version 5.0. U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance (NCEE).