As part of their Straight Talk on Evidence initiative, the Laura and John Arnold Foundation has released a new report titled, “When Congressionally-authorized federal programs are evaluated in randomized controlled trials, most fall short. Reform is needed.” The report reviews research from 13 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of Congressionally-authorized federal programs, such as Head Start, Job Corps, Abstinence Education, and Washington, D.C. school vouchers.
According to the report:
- Eleven of the 13 RCTs found that the programs produced either no significant positive effects on the key targeted outcomes or small positive effects that dissipated shortly after participants completed the program. One RCT found sizable program effects (the Defense Department’s National Guard Youth ChalleNGe program) and another found modest effects (the Department of Labor’s Job Training Partnership Act).
- However, among the 11 disappointing findings, evidence suggests that a subset of activities funded by these programs were indeed effective. Thus, reforming the programs to incorporate evidence-based funding criteria could lead to much better results.
The report says, “In a world where most attempts to make progress fail and a few succeed, spending as usual without a clear focus on evidence about what works is unlikely to solve the nation’s problems.” The report also provides a link to the final report from each RCT.
Source (Open Access): Straight Talk on Evidence. (2018). When Congressionally-authorized federal programs are evaluated in randomized controlled trials, most fall short. Reform is needed. Retrieved from http://www.straighttalkonevidence.org/2018/06/13/when-congressionally-authorized-federal-programs-are-evaluated-in-randomized-controlled-trials-most-fall-short-reform-is-needed/