Monday, June 29, 2009

A New Paper on Defining "What Works"

Important questions about what is meant by "evidence based" are raised in new paper by Katya Fels Smyth and Lisbeth B. Schorr of Harvard's Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy called A Lot to Lose: A Call to Rethink What Constitutes “Evidence” in Finding Social Interventions That Work . The authors outline why it is important to consider different kinds of evidence and different methodologies when deciding "What Works".
A growing emphasis on accountability has led policy makers, funders, practitioners and researchers to demand greater evidence that program models “work” and that public and private dollars invested are generating relevant results that can be directly attributed to the given intervention. ... The authors describe the characteristics of What It Takes organizations, which their work suggests support lasting change in the lives of highly marginalized and vulnerable people. They describe the ways [to] ... ensure greater accountability without reducing the chances that those who need help the most will have access to programs that support meaningful, lasting change.
For research-informed policies to improve outcomes for kids and families.

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