Robert Slavin of Johns Hopkins University pinpoints the Bush administration’s failure in No Child Left Behind:

“In theory, at least, the idea of evidence-based reform is a no-brainer. Use what works. Who could disagree with that? Why shouldn’t education finally join medicine, agriculture, and technology in embracing evidence as the basis for practice? At long last, here was the President of the United States and both parties of Congress openly endorsing the idea that evidence should matter in education, and supporting legislation designed to encourage schools and districts receiving federal funds to use programs with strong evidence of effectiveness.


“In practice, however, NCLB has been a major setback for evidence-based reform. In every area of the law in which evidence could have mattered, it did not, and if anything, programs with strong evidence of effectiveness were discouraged rather than encouraged. The winners in NCLB were the old-fashioned large publishers and other large companies, whose products lack evidence from rigorous experiments.”


Read the whole thing in Teachers College Record. Slavin is a coauthor of one of the programs largely passed over.