By Sara Kerr, Kate Tromble, and Laney Umland

As we pass the one-year mark of schools and districts’ shift to remote learning in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are reminded of the importance for education to be continuously evolving to meet the growing needs of students and communities. Particularly given the pandemic’s disparate impact on Black and Latino students, students with disabilities, English learners, and students experiencing poverty.

Results for America’s new Moneyball for Education report offers concrete steps federal policymakers can implement to advance the use of data, evidence, and evaluation to solve some of our nation’s most pressing education problems.

Within the five recommendations, we identify specific actions the U.S Department of Education (ED) and Congress can take now, as well as thoughts on larger policy changes to begin working toward in the future.

RFA’s five Moneyball for Education recommendations include:

1. Revise and Align the Definition of “Evidence-Based”

  • NOW: ED should strengthen existing guidance to clarify the current definition and encourage SEAs, LEAs, and schools to more deeply consult the evidence base as they select and implement evidence-based interventions.

2. Shift Additional Competitive and Formula Funding to Evidence-Based Approaches

  • NOW: ED should prioritize evidence of effectiveness in all of its competitive grant programs — including those in ESSA, the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, and Title III of the Higher Education Act — through tiered-evidence frameworks, evidence preference points, and other evidence-driven strategies.

3. Invest 1% of Federal Education Program Funds in Evaluations

  • NOW: ED should allocate 0.5% of its discretionary program funding to evaluate the effectiveness of its grant programs.

4. Build a Larger and More-Effective Evaluation, Research, and Development Infrastructure

  • NOW: Congress should increase the Education Innovation and Research Program appropriation from $190 million in FY20 to $500 million in FY21.

5. Produce More-Relevant, More-Meaningful, and More-Accessible Data to Support States, Districts, and Schools

  • NOW: ED should support SEAs in making sure new school-level spending data reports are effectively communicated to the public.

Education leaders have made strides towards embracing data and evidence to achieve better, more equitable outcomes for students. We must build on the existing momentum and continue to move forward with a renewed commitment to evidence-based policymaking to ensure recovery is swift and lasting.

To learn more about the recommendations in RFA’s Moneyball For Education report or share your feedback, contact Sara Kerr, sara@results4america.org, or Kate Tromble, kate@results4america.org.

Working with decision-makers at all levels of government to harness the power of evidence and data to solve the world’s greatest challenges.