With goals as significant as the Sustainable Development Goals, it is of the utmost importance to have plans for determining progress and success -- or lack thereof -- toward the desired ends. Strong evaluation plans allow organizations and other players to gauge if what they are doing works, and if not, what they need to do to course-correct.
The problem in education reform isn't a lack of good ideas. It's a lack of good ideas implemented with enough clarity, consistency and integrity to actually make a difference in rigorous experiments. A recent large-scale evaluation of Response to Intervention (RTI) illustrates this problem once again.
A friend of mine once told me that next to every truth stands a lie, that one person's ceiling is another's floor, and that to follow a truth is like walking a razor's edge -- it's easy to fall off in error. I find defining the difference between evaluation and judgment to be in this fine-line category.
Evidence junkies (like me) are reacting to the disappointing news on the evaluation of the Adolescent Behavioral Learning Experience (ABLE), a program implemented at Rikers Island to reduce recidivism among adolescent prisoners. Bottom line: The rigorous independent evaluation of the program failed to find any benefits.
Striving Readers was a serious, well-meaning attempt to solve a very important problem faced by far too many secondary students: difficulties with reading. But next time anyone thinks of doing something on that scale, I hope they will provide preference points in the application process for applicants who propose to use approaches with solid evidence of effectiveness.