Ideas

By Cara Jackson Abt Associates, Rockville, MD

First Published November 19, 2021 Educational Researcher

“Democratizing evidence” means enabling a variety of stakeholders to participate in the production of evidence. The result should be an evidence base that is more relevant to stakeholders’ concerns. Greater transparency and inclusivity in the evidence development process—to say nothing of increased responsiveness to stakeholder concerns—may increase the subject community’s desire to act on findings, which in turn should create incentives for research leaders to consider democratizing evidence in the decision making processes.

This approach absolutely speaks to current research needs in the education sector. The purpose of this essay by Abt’s Cara Jackson is to establish a framework for broader community involvement as a means of increasing the relevance and usefulness of evidence developed to support the needs of communities served by educational institutions. More...

Research Worth Using: (Re) Framing Research Evidence Quality for Educational Policymaking and Practice
First Published April 8, 2021

Norma C. Ming, Lauren B. Goldenberg First Published April 8, 2021 Educational Researcher

This chapter calls for researchers to reconceptualize research quality from the perspective of its expected use, attending to power dynamics that influence how knowledge is defined, constructed, and validated through the research enterprise. Addressing these concerns when designing and conducting education research can yield more useful research evidence for building more equitable education systems. Anchored in scholarship on research utilization and methodological critiques, the chapter introduces a research quality framework that integrates relevance and rigor through five key dimensions of Research Worth Using: (1) relevance of question: alignment of research topics to practical priorities; (2) theoretical credibility: explanatory strength and coherence of principles investigated; (3) methodological credibility: internal and external credibility of study design and execution; (4) evidentiary credibility: robustness and consistency of cumulative evidence; and (5) relevance of answers: justification for practical application. This framework simultaneously uplifts the voices and needs of policymakers, practitioners, and community members, while elevating standards for excellence in education research. We call attention to the myriad ways in which the quality of evidence generated can be strengthened, before describing implications for curating and using research. We conclude by offering suggestions for applying and further developing the framework. More ...

December 1, 2020 -Vivian Tseng, Senior Vice President, Program, William T Grant Foundation

First published in The Hill

In the next era of federal policymaking, we should build trust in science by incorporating democratic principles. Those most marginalized by racism, poverty, and xenophobia will need a place at the table in shaping research priorities and the use of evidence in policymaking. The Biden administration can launch a new era of equity-centered, evidence-informed policymaking by 1) incorporating community and practitioner perspectives in setting national research priorities, 2) ensuring equitable access to and use of federally-funded research findings, and 3) mandating community and practitioner engagement in federally-supported research programs and projects. More ...

July 7, 2020 -Vivian Tseng, Senior Vice President, Program, William T Grant Foundation

First published on Vivian's Voice blog

Since I wrote Transforming Evidence for Policy in the Wake of COVID-19, the need for researchers to fully step up for social justice has only intensified. The coronavirus laid bare the systemic racism, class inequality, and xenophobia embedded in our society whether in employment, healthcare, education, or housing. The persistent murders of Black men and women at the hands of police and vigilantes are further reminders of the anti-Black racism that has plagued our country for centuries. But in the midst of these trying times, the movement for Black lives has opened the door for significant change. This moment of opportunity is a gift —hard won by the activists who have been pushing for change for decades while building on the efforts and sacrifices of prior generations. More ...

April 24, 2020 - Vivian Tseng, Senior Vice President, Program, William T Grant Foundation

First published on Transforming Evidence blog

After September 11, during a period of intense conflict and uncertainty, my mentor Glenn Omatsu taught me that crises—while challenging—open windows of opportunity for change. In times of upheaval, people are more likely to question the status quo and to consider different ways of doing things.

This lesson resonates as the COVID-19 pandemic has forced so many of us to reckon with profound disruption, if not devastation, in our day-to-day lives. But the crisis has not had equal impact; it has widened the inequities in our communities. In video conferences and online chats, my colleagues and I have reflected on the consequential decisions practitioners and policymakers across sectors are facing as they navigate a new and far-reaching set of challenges. More ...

December 3, 2018 - Ilene Berman, Senior Associate, Evidence-Based Practice Group at the Annie E. Casey Foundation (@AECFNews), Steve Fleischman (@swfleischman), Change Dynamics, LLC, Ben Kirshner, Associate Professor of Education at University of Colorado at Boulder (@cueducation), and Esther Quintero (@EstherQuinCo), Senior Fellow at the Albert Shanker Institute (@shankerinst).

First published for the Education Week's blog Urban Education Reform: Bridging Research and Practice

In last week's blog post, we welcomed readers into a dialogue on what it would mean to democratize evidence in education. In this post, we consider how different stakeholders can shift their work as part of the movement to democratize evidence. Every stakeholder has a critical role to play. Teachers, administrators, researchers, philanthropies, policymakers, parents, and students can mobilize support within their communities to promote the four guiding principles through tangible action. Below, representatives of the research, educator, and philanthropy working groups share their calls to action. More ...

November 26, 2018 - Vivian Tseng (@VivianT88), the senior vice president of programs at the William T. Grant Foundation (@wtgrantfdn), and Jim Kohlmoos (@jimkohlmoos), a co-founder and partner of EDGE Consulting.

First published for the Education Week's blog Urban Education Reform: Bridging Research and Practice

Why Democratize Evidence in Education?

For decades, educators have decried the experience of having research done to them rather than with them; their marginalization in the evidence enterprise intensified in the early 2000s as policymakers used data and research for high-stakes accountability purposes. Communities, parents, and students have also been left on the sidelines far too often in efforts to leverage evidence for change. Researchers who want their work to be meaningful and impactful still find themselves secluded behind the ivory towers of academia or the glossy walls of research organizations. We know the challenges, and it's well past time that we tackle them in serious, organized, and systematic ways. More ...

April 24, 2018 - Erica Greenberg

First published on Urban Wire::Education and Training, the blog of the Urban Institute

Last week, the National Institute of Early Education Research released its annual State of Preschool Yearbook, the definitive source for information on state-funded preschool programs. The yearbook highlights spending, enrollment, and features of program quality reported directly by state preschool administrators. This information is critical for early childhood research, policymaking, and advocacy.

But why is the yearbook the only source for annual, comprehensive programmatic information on preschool? How can the classroom quality data, child assessment scores, and detailed student characteristics many states already collect be made available as they are for K–12 education? More...

Vivian Tseng (@VivianT88), the senior vice president of programs at the William T. Grant Foundation (@wtgrantfdn), Steve Fleischman (@swfleischman), Change Dynamics, LLC, Esther Quintero (@EstherQuinCo), Senior Fellow at the Albert Shanker Institute (@shankerinst)

First published December 12, 2017 in Connecting Research and Practice for Educational Improvement: Ethical and Equitable Approaches By Bronwyn Bevan, William R. Penuel

This chapter explores how authors can collectively democratize the evidence movement in education. It explores that the movement for evidence in education could accomplish much more by aligning our efforts with democratic principles. The chapter aims for a more engaged and evidence-informed "citizenry" in which different stakeholders can meaningfully participate in the production and use of data and research evidence to inform educational improvement. It discusses why it is important to democratize the evidence movement in education and the urgency of tackling it now. The chapter offers what a more democratic evidence system could look like in action by focusing on shared values; redefining relationships, roles, and professional identities; and putting in place new practices and structures. It focuses on researchers and practitioners, but authors see them as only two sets of stakeholders within a broader democratic movement. The civic values of dialogue, negotiation, and optimism also need to be mobilized to support a more democratic evidence movement. More...