In April, the Forum for Youth Investment and the Urban Institute brought together policymakers and practitioners from across levels of government and the non-profit sector to discuss Using Evidence for Improvement in the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act. The event featured a panel of speakers from federal, state and local agencies to share how they have used evidence to improve programs, with closing remarks from the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on what agencies should consider as they begin to implement the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act (Evidence Act).
The FY 2020 AP chapter “Building and Using Evidence to Improve Government Effectiveness” can help policymakers, researchers, and service providers understand the federal government approach and priorities for using evidence in policymaking. It focuses on four key areas: (1) evidence-building strategies to learn and improve, (2) evaluation as a tool to learn and improve, (3) harnessing data for learning and improvement, and (4) promoting transparency and accountability in federal evidence-building. These four areas demonstrate how the federal government is moving forward on a number of key ideas found in the Forum’s recent work.
There is no question that I am a fan of out-of-school time (OST) systems — data-driven, coordinated community-level efforts to improve access to quality before and after school and summer learning experiences. Just check my track record to know I have helped incubate dozens of them across the country, both as part of The Wallace Foundation team as well as a Big Picture Approach consultant with the Forum for Youth Investment.
Using data to improve performance is essential for bettering outcomes for children and youth. When a new data system is created or implemented, it's important to address critical questions first about the processes and people involved, not just the technology. In this recent blog, the Forum's Larry Pasti reflects on his own experiences as well as the Chapin Hall report, commissioned by the Wallace Foundation, titled "Connecting the Dots: Data Use in Afterschool Systems."
School leaders have recently been asked to consider how to support the social and emotional learning (SEL) of their students. How this can be done effectively is the subject of a recent brief, "Preparing for Effective SEL Implementation," by the EASEL (Ecological Approaches to Social Emotional Learning) Lab at Harvard University.
Several studies have shown that school-based programming in SEL is linked to a number of positive outcomes such as academic achievement and emotional well-being. But sometimes these programs don't make as much of a difference as prior evidence would suggest. The brief by Stephanie Jones and her team at EASEL, commissioned by the Wallace Foundation, posits that problems in the implementation phase can lead to less powerful results.
The Forum for Youth Investment recently brought together senior career federal government staff and leaders from nongovernmental organizations to hear about two promising approaches that utilize evidence-based practices as opposed to evidence-based programs.
Lots of people are talking about the importance of ensuring that students have social and emotional skills needed to be college and career ready. Too often, however, the focus is on what it takes to teach young people these skills.
Imagine this scenario. A smiling five-year-old is brought into a bare room with a table. On the table is a plate with a single marshmallow. The researcher who brought them in says she will back in 15 minutes, and gives them a choice: they can eat the one marshmallow while she’s gone or wait until she returns and have two.
I don’t want to go to any more celebrations in which young people are given “beat the odds” awards to acknowledge the individual commitment they have made to overcome obstacles.