Here is a nice way to start the New Year! We have all wondered whether we throw good money after bad in desperate attempts to make life better. Ron Haskins, in today’s New York Times laments this tendency. But, he goes past the woe to describe social programs that have rigorous evaluations and really do work. There is hope for our educational system. There are specific programs that have genuinely positive impacts.
How many of these effective programs are in your schools and communities? How can you know? Click to see ones that do work.
These are the programs Haskins cites:
Florida’s Teen Outreach Program works with 6,000 ninth graders to promote healthy behaviors, life skills, and a sense of purpose. Documented reductions in teen pregnancy and a reduction in school suspension and expulsions are the result.
Reading Partners is a multi-state program that pairs volunteer tutors with students for twice weekly 45 minute sessions improves reading.
Nurse-Family Partnership in Pennsylvania reduces incidence of abuse and increases kindergarten readiness.
Success-for-All is a school-wide K-2 program that groups students at the same reading level for daily 90 minute reading classes, one on one tutoring, and cooperative learning.
There may be other effective programs out there, but Haskins urges that social programs be funded for rigorous evaluations so that we can know. I located a site that can help. The Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy has a Social Programs that Work site that describes the evaluations of many programs in different areas. They describe themselves a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization. They are funded by the MacArthur, Grant, Arnold, Casey, and Overdeck Foundations. Their Home Page states that their evaluations are based on expert reviews using the Congressional ‘Top Tier’ Evidence Standard’.