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Latest Progress

April 2015 Update, linked here, includes:

  • The Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy will close, as an exciting new chapter begins


March 2015 Update, linked here, includes:

  • The Coalition’s Top Tier Evidence expert panel has identified New York City’s Small Schools of Choice intervention as “Near Top Tier,” based on a large randomized trial showing it increased four-year high school graduation with proficiency on state exams by 4-6 percentage points.

  • Recent NY Times and LA Times articles – many citing the Coalition’s work – underscore the need for strong evidence from randomized controlled trials to address critical national problems across a remarkably diverse set of policy areas.


January 2015 Update, linked here, includes:

  • Coalition Board member Ron Haskins had an excellent New York Times op-ed on January 1 – “Social Programs That Work” – in support of the federal evidence-based initiatives enacted in recent years.

  • We’re working with the new Republican-controlled Congress to solidify support for these initiatives, which incorporate key evidence-based concepts we’ve advanced with the Bush and Obama administrations, and to extend the concepts to new areas.

  • On January 21, we will hold an optional webinar for prospective applicants to the Coalition’s Low-Cost Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT) Competition, which will offer practical advice on preparing a successful proposal.


December 2014 Update, linked here, includes:

  • We’re pleased to announce the launch of year 2 of our three-year competition to select and fund low-cost randomized controlled trials (RCTs) designed to build policy-important evidence about “what works” in U.S. social spending. Full information on the competition, including the Application Packet, can be accessed through the competition webpage.


November 2014 Update, linked here, includes:

  • The House and Senate Budget Committee Chairs (Rep. Ryan and Sen. Murray) have introduced legislation to create a bipartisan Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking, which includes a focus that we had encouraged on incorporating rigorous impact evaluations into government programs.

  • Brookings Senior Fellow (and Coalition Board member) Ron Haskins and Greg Margolis will release their new book about the Obama Administration’s evidence-based initiatives at a Brookings Institution event on December 1.

  • The federal government has launched a “Performance Partnerships Pilots” initiative, to enable up to 10 state/local sites to blend existing federal funds to implement new strategies to assist disconnected youth, coupled with a strong incentive for rigorous impact evaluations.

  • The Coalition has released a new brief: Which Study Designs Are Capable of Producing Valid Evidence About A Program’s Effectiveness? A Brief Overview (four pages).


August 2014 Update, linked here, includes:

  • Our push for wider use of low-cost randomized controlled trials (RCTs) gained important momentum with a White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) conference on the topic on July 28. For further information, see the White House OSTP summary and our brief meeting overview.

  • Bipartisan “Social Impact Bond” (SIB) legislation – designed to scale up evidence-based social interventions – has been introduced in the House and Senate, incorporating rigorous evidence standards to measure whether the SIB projects achieved their targeted impacts.

  • The House Budget Committee majority staff, under Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI), has released a widely-publicized anti-poverty agenda, Expanding Opportunity in America, that incorporates key evidence-based approaches we’ve put forward, in testimony before the Committee last year and other forums.

  • The Justice Department’s National Institute of Justice has launched an RCT Challenge, designed to encourage criminal justice agencies to use low-cost RCTs as a “standard and straightforward approach to answering their questions and conducting their day-to-day business operations.”

  • The next set of phone sessions for our open online workshop in evidence-based policy will take place at noon EST on Thursdays, from October 9 through December 4.


July 2014 Update, linked here, includes:

  • The Coalition announces the three winners of our Low-Cost RCT Competition: (i) A large, multi-site RCT of Bottom Line, a program that provides one-on-one guidance to help low-income, first-generation students get into and graduate from college; (ii) a large RCT of Durham Connects, a postnatal nurse home visiting program designed to improve child and mother health and well-being; and (iii) a large, multi-site RCT of workplace health and safety inspections conducted by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

  • The competition winners are featured in an excellent article in the New York Times and discussed in a recent piece on the White House OSTP website.

  • A request for proposals for the competition’s second year will be released in December on the Coalition’s website.


April 2014 Update, linked here, includes:

  • The 2014 Economic Report of the President contains an exceptionally strong endorsement of rigorous – particularly randomized – evaluations as a key to improving federal programs, devoting an entire chapter to the subject, and citing the Coalition’s work. The President’s FY 2015 budget request contains a detailed summary of the Administration’s key evidence-based initiatives.

  • Congress has taken concrete, bipartisan steps toward reauthorization of HHS’s $400 million/year evidence-based early childhood home visiting program, including holding a positive reauthorization hearing at which the Coalition testified.

  • Congress has enacted a new evidence-based employment/training pilot within the Food Stamps program based on a concept proposed by House Republicans, providing a potentially important precedent for incorporating evidence-based reforms into major federal entitlement programs.

  • Evidence-based policy, including the Coalition’s work, has received excellent coverage in recent press articles, including David Bornstein’s April 16 piece in the New York Times and Dan Gorenstein’s April 24 piece in Marketplace.


February 2014 Update, linked here, includes:

  • Gina Kolata’s front-page article in the New York Times, citing the Coalition’s work, highlights evidence from randomized controlled trials as a critical missing piece needed for successful reform of the U.S. health care system.

  • New randomized trials have produced encouraging initial evidence that DoED’s evidence-based Investing in Innovation (i3) Fund is successfully identifying and funding interventions that reliably increase student achievement when implemented on a large scale.

  • The Coalition’s new competition to select and fund low-cost randomized trials is accepting Letters of Interest from prospective applicants through February 14.

  • The next set of phone sessions for our open online workshop in evidence-based policy starts April 24 and runs through June 12.


January 2014 Update, linked here, reports on progress in the following areas:

  • Low-cost randomized controlled trials (RCTs): (i) coverage of the Coalition’s low-cost RCT competition in a New York Times piece and an earlier piece on the White House website; (ii) discussion of low-cost RCTs on the Gov Innovator blog; (iii) New York State Pay for Success initiative’s use of a low-cost RCT to measure program impact; and (iv) the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) new funding announcement for low-cost RCTs of health care delivery and medical interventions.

  • Congressional funding: The FY 2014 omnibus spending bill, which Congress is expected to pass this week, provides exceptionally strong support for evidence-based reform.


December 2013 Update, linked here, includes:

  • We’re pleased to announce the launch of a competition to select and fund low-cost RCTs designed to build policy-important evidence about “what works” in U.S. social spending. For additional information please see: (i) Competition webpage – including application packet; (ii) Press Release – Laura and John Arnold Foundation; and (iii) Blog posts – White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation.


October 2013 Update, linked here, includes:


September 2013 Update, linked here, includes:

  • Gina Kolata’s article in the New York Times – Guesses and Hype Give Way to Data in Study of Education – discusses the transformative role of randomized controlled trials in education research over the past decade under the leadership of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), and cites the Coalition’s work.

  • A Coalition-convened expert panel provided recommendations to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA) – which were well-received – for increasing the success of evaluation studies in building a body of effective, evidence-based programs.

  • Coalition Board members Judy Gueron and Howard Rolston have authored an excellent book on the history of randomized trials in welfare policy: Fighting for Reliable Evidence.


August 2013 Update, linked here, includes:


July 2013 Update, linked here, includes:

  • We have launched a new initiative in cooperation with the White House and the Office of Management and Budget: Demonstrating How Low-Cost Randomized Controlled Trials (RCTs) Can Drive Effective Social Spending. This initiative will include a high-profile competition to select and fund at least six low-cost RCTs over the next three years designed to build valid, actionable evidence about “what works” in U.S. social spending.

  • The U.S. Agency for International Development now has a highly-promising evidence-based initiative – Development Innovation Ventures (DIV) – patterned on the domestic “tiered evidence” initiatives we’ve helped advance. Over 60% of DIV grantees are conducting RCTs of their development assistance projects, and DIV recently awarded its first scale-up grant for a Chlorine Dispenser System to kill illness-causing bacteria in drinking water that, based on our impartial review of a randomized evaluation of the System in Kenya, is backed by credible evidence of a sizable impact.


April 2013 Update, linked here, includes:

  • The U.S. Department of Education has taken a major step to institutionalize evidence-based grantmaking, using an approach we have strongly encouraged in our work with federal officials: making rigorous evidence a selection factor in awarding grants.

  • The push for evidence-based policy has engaged some prominent partners, seeking to build high-level, bipartisan support for the effort. Results for America and the Brookings Institution’s Hamilton Project are hosting a forum on evidence-based policy on April 17, with Senator Rob Portman, Senator Mark Warner, former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, and others.


January 2013 Update, linked here, includes recent press and a new Coalition policy proposal:

  • David Bornstein’s piece in the New York Times discusses evidence-based, cost-saving program reforms as an important, overlooked approach to addressing the budget deficit, and cites much of the Coalition’s work.

  • The piece also discusses the Coalition’s proposal for government-wide use of “waivers” from federal law and regulation to stimulate state/local innovation and evidence-building, aimed at increasing the number of proven, cost-saving reforms available to policymakers.


December 2012 Update, linked here, includes:


November 2012 Update, linked here, includes recent press on evidence-based policy, such as:

  • Our opinion piece in the New York Times, proposing that the Obama Administration and Congress make it a priority, in the President’s second term, to increase the effectiveness of social spending through evidence-based policy reform.

  • David Bornstein’s piece in the New York Times discussing the increase in demand for better evidence in social policy, and citing the Coalition’s work in this area.

  • Our post on Education Week’s “Sputnik” blog discussing what constitutes strong evidence of program effectiveness.


June 2012 Update, linked here, includes:

  • The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has launched a major new push for evidence-based approaches in budget, management, and policy decisions across the federal government – see OMB memo Use of Evidence and Evaluation in the 2014 Budget to the Heads of the Executive Departments and Agencies.

  • New York Times ran an excellent article on the OMB memo – “The Dawn of the Evidence-Based Budget” – which, among other things, discusses the bipartisan roots of the effort, and cites the Coalition’s work.


May 2012 Update, linked here, includes recent press on evidence-based policy, such as:

  • New York Times article by David Bornstein discussing the Nurse-Family Partnership and HHS’s new evidence-based Early Childhood Home Visiting Program and citing much of the Coalition’s work in this area.

  • David Brooks’ column in the New York Times, discussing Jim Manzi’s recent book Uncontrolled, and calling for randomized experiments across government to build credible evidence about what works.


December 2011 Update, linked here, includes:

  • Congress provided FY12 funding for all six federal evidence-based initiatives that incorporate the core concepts we’ve promoted through our work with the Executive Branch and Congress.

  • The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) stated publicly – for the first time – that it “gives greater weight to demonstrations and experiments that use random assignment…” when estimating the cost of Congressional legislation.


September 2011 Update, linked here, includes:

  • Our recent paper commissioned by the U.K. National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA), co-authored by Ron Haskins of the Brookings Institution, describes six major initiatives enacted by Congress incorporating the core evidence-based concepts we’ve promoted through our work with Executive Branch and Congressional officials.

  • A recent review of the Coalition, based on not-for-attribution interviews with federal policy officials and others, confirms the policy impact of our work.


February 2011 Update, linked here, includes:

  • President Obama’s budget will propose a $100 million pilot initiative known as pay-for-success bonds.

  • David Leonhardt’s New York Times article on the initiative cites much of the Coalition’s work.

  • The Department of Labor (DOL) has launched a four-year, $2 billion job training program that incorporates the core evidence-based concepts we’ve promoted through our work with OMB and Congress.


September 2010 Update, linked here, includes two recently published op-eds:


March 2010 Update, linked here, includes:

  • Major new federal initiatives, enacted by Congress to expand implementation of evidence-based interventions, including: the Education Department’s $650 million Investing in Innovation (i3) Fund, HHS’s $110 million evidence-based teen pregnancy prevention program, and HHS’s $50 million Social Innovation Fund.

  • The President’s FY11 budget includes over $100 million in new funding for rigorous evaluations aimed at growing the number of social interventions backed by strong evidence of effectiveness.


November 2009 Update, linked here, includes:

  • Coalition’s “Top Tier Evidence” initiative (to identify social programs backed by the strongest evidence of sizable, sustained effects) findings are having important influence on legislation and government policy.

  • A recent independent assessment of the Coalition’s work has positive findings, as well as valuable suggestions for the future.


October 2009 Update, linked here, includes:

  • OMB Director Peter Orszag announces a major new government-wide initiative to advance rigorous evaluations of program impact. The Coalition strongly supports this initiative, which advances many of the concepts that we have promoted through our work with OMB and agencies over the past several years.


July 2009 Update, linked here, includes:

  • Newly-enacted Congressional funding bill calls for rigorous evaluation of World Bank projects, through language developed with our input.


June 2009 Update, linked here, includes:

  • OMB Director Peter Orszag has written an excellent summary of the Obama Administration’s commitment to evidence-based policy, citing the Coalition.


May 2009 Update, linked here, describes the President’s FY10 budget, which includes a number of evidence-based reforms for which the Coalition provided key input, such as:

  • $124 million for a major new evidence-based home visitation program for low-income mothers and pregnant women.

  • $110 million for a new evidence-based teen pregnancy prevention program.

  • A sizable increases in funding for rigorous — including randomized — research and evaluation at the Departments of Labor and Education, and the Corporation for National and Community Service.


March 2009 Update, linked here, includes:

  • The newly-enacted Stimulus Bill expands the Institute of Education Sciences’ (IES) Statewide Data Systems program, which Congress began funding at IES in FY05 with our input.

  • Our new initiative to identify social Interventions meeting “Top Tier” evidence of effectiveness has identified two additional interventions meeting the Top Tier standard.


December 2008 Update, linked here, includes:

  • The Coalition hosted a policy forum in collaboration with the Millennium Challenge Corporation, established by Congress in 2004 as a major new vehicle for international development assistance.


May 2008 Update, linked here, includes:

  • The Second Chance Act – which per our input contains a 2% set-aside for rigorous evaluations of strategies to facilitate prisoner re-entry into the community – was signed into law on April 9, 2008 (Public Law 110-199).

  • Congress to review new Coalition Initiative To Identify and Validate Social Interventions Meeting “Top Tier” Evidence of Effectiveness.

  • We’ve conducted a number of workshops on evidence-based reform for OMB, federal agencies, and other stakeholders, which have been very well received, and provide participants with practical, cost-effective strategies to advance such reforms in their programs or policy areas.


January 2008 Update, linked here, includes:

  • The FY 08 Omnibus Appropriations Act just signed into law includes important new evidence-based reforms that the Coalition helped to develop and/or advance.

  • A new addition to the Social Programs That Work website:  Los Angeles Jobs-First GAIN Program (to quickly move welfare recipients into the workforce).


September 2007 Update, linked here, includes:


June 2007 Update, linked here, includes:

  • The Congressionally-established Academic Competitiveness Council, to which the Coalition was a main advisor on evaluation, issued a report calling for evidence-based reforms in federal math and science education programs, and includes the Coalition’s Hierarchy of Study Design.

  • Education Week published a Coalition-authored commentary – “Making [Education] Policy Work: The Lesson from Medicine.”


February 2007 Update, linked here, includes:

  • The President’s FY08 budget includes $10 million for a new competitive grant program at HHS to fund evidence-based nurse home visitation programs – an initiative we helped support through our work with OMB.

  • The Coalition has proposed a new Bipartisan Legislative Initiative for U.S. Social Policy, to systematically incorporate evidence-based provisions into federal social programs.

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