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ERIC Number: ED476307
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2003-Feb
Pages: 40
Abstractor: N/A
Determining "What Works" in Social Programs and Social Policies: Toward a More Inclusive Knowledge Base.
Schorr, Lisbeth B.
This paper asserts that rigorous research on the impacts of social programs to improve children's prospects are necessary but not sufficient, because too many programs are multidimensional, cannot or should not be standardized, evolve or adapt through time, require participants' active involvement, or are heavily dependent for success on good implementation, not just good design. It recommends more flexible forms of evaluation or assessment that require experts and practitioners to hypothesize linkages between actions and outcomes, prioritize actions, identify interim indicators of success, and pay more attention to program attributes and institutional contexts that are essential to success. While recognizing the trade-off between knowing a few things very well and more things with less certainty, the paper argues for greater efforts to understand broad patterns that connect activities to results, even if this means compromising the search for absolute truths. Five appendices present: characteristics of effective interventions that make them difficult to evaluate with prevailing methods; examples of actions that contribute to school readiness; examples of indicators that measure progress toward sub-goals and toward outcome of school readiness; examples of attributes of effective services and supports; and examples of community and systems contexts that contribute to effectiveness. (Contains 25 references.) (SM)
Brookings Institution, 1775 Massachusetts Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20036-2188. Tel: 202-797-6258; Fax: 202-797-6181; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Brookings Institution, Washington, DC.