How do I know what works?

Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose.

– Zoa Neale Hurston

How do most people learn about and identify a new strategy or approach? You guessed it, by referral through personal networks. While this is a reliable method (depending on the size of your network), there is a better way. Just like using Angie’s List for finding a contractor, there are a few “go to” resources for understanding the best research about what practices and programs get results in education.

Sometimes these approaches of using personal networks and research match up. We were working with a network of schools around their strategic plan and monthly progress monitoring meetings. A few schools were focused on improving early grades literacy. Through a strong personal network, one school identified peer tutoring as a promising strategy for pre-K (using 4th and 5th graders as tutors) and decided to move ahead with implementation. Thankfully, when we looked at the early grades toolkit on the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF), we found that peer tutoring has an incredibly strong evidence base and is very low cost (a rare win-win).

As you plan for next year, leverage your networks and a review of evidence to inform your practices and programs for implementation. It will be worth the extra few hours of effort to get better results for your students!

Our go-to sources for evidence-based practices and programs: