Opinion
Education Letter to the Editor

‘What Works’ Dialogue

September 22, 2004 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Clearinghouse Responds to a Critic

To the Editor:

We write in response to the letters by Michael Pressley regarding the What Works Clearinghouse (“Education’s Clearinghouse,” Letters, July 28, 2004; “‘What Works’ Divergence,” Letters, Sept. 1, 2004). They raise important issues regarding our recently released reports and overall operation, which we address below.

Mr. Pressley notes that only a limited number of studies have passed the middle-school-math-curricula review. While true, that fact will not surprise many math experts, given the small research base in this area. Further, as part of our monthly release strategy, more WWC reports in this area are being prepared even as we write.

Mr. Pressley’s concerns regarding the information on studies identified as “Does not pass screen” are well-taken. In keeping with our commitment to transparency and continuous improvement, a fuller explanation of this process will be available soon at www.whatworks.ed.gov.

Another concern he expressed regards the use of peer review in the WWC process. We differ from previous efforts at research review and reporting, which often relied on expert panels to make judgments. Instead, the WWC has built an ongoing research-review enterprise that relies on two key elements: judgments guided by a set of pre-established, rigorous decision rules developed with the help of external experts, and extensive quality control to make sure the rules are applied in a consistent manner.

Further, the WWC’s quality-control process does include peer review at several critical points. For each topic, the WWC recruits external, nationally recognized senior content advisers, or scas, and methodology consultants, or mcs. All our reports are reviewed by the original study author (first author), the WWC’s technical advisory group, and the topic SCAS and MCS. The documents that guide the WWC rating process undergo peer review. The upcoming WWC “intervention reports” will be peer-reviewed.

Perhaps Mr. Pressley’s greatest concern is the inclusion of a study in our review of peer-assisted learning, or pal, in which he participated as a secondary author (Lysynchuk, Pressley, & Vye, 1990). We debated whether this study qualified for review. In particular, we discussed the issue with our pal senior content advisers, authors of a meta-analysis of pal studies. They had wrestled with the same issue, and agreed to support whichever decision we made. Based on our desire to provide educators as much information as possible on peer-assisted learning, we reviewed the study.

Regarding this, Mr. Pressley also questions the practice of writing our own summaries of reviewed studies. We believe this is important to provide our users with a standardized, highly accessible reporting mechanism. This approach builds on the advice of educator focus groups. Following our standard practice, we contacted the study’s primary author, Linda M. Lysynchuk, for feedback on the draft WWC report. She found it to be acceptable and requested no changes.

We encourage readers to reach us directly at info@whatworks.ed.gov, for we know that their comments, like Mr. Pressley’s, will help to increase the WWC’s value to decisionmakers in education.

Becki Herman

Project Director

Bob Boruch

Principal Investigator

American Institutes for Research

Washington, D.C.


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
What’s Next for Teaching and Learning? Key Trends for the New School Year
The past 18 months changed the face of education forever, leaving teachers, students, and families to adapt to unprecedented challenges in teaching and learning. As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Curriculum Webinar
How Data and Digital Curriculum Can Drive Personalized Instruction
As we return from an abnormal year, it’s an educator’s top priority to make sure the lessons learned under adversity positively impact students during the new school year. Digital curriculum has emerged from the pandemic
Content provided by Kiddom
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Leadership for Racial Equity in Schools and Beyond
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reveal systemic racial disparities in educational opportunity, there are revelations to which we can and must respond. Through conscientious efforts, using an intentional focus on race, school leaders can
Content provided by Corwin

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Judge's Temporary Order Allows Iowa Schools to Mandate Masks
A federal judge ordered the state to immediately halt enforcement of a law that prevents school boards from ordering masks to be worn.
4 min read
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks to reporters following a news conference, Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021, in West Des Moines, Iowa. Reynolds lashed out at President Joe Biden Thursday after he ordered his education secretary to explore possible legal action against states that have blocked school mask mandates and other public health measures meant to protect students against COVID-19. Reynolds, a Republican, has signed a bill into law that prohibits school officials from requiring masks, raising concerns as delta variant virus cases climb across the state and schools resume classes soon. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Education Hurricane Ida Deals New Blow to Louisiana Schools Struggling to Reopen
The opening of the school year offered teachers a chance to fully assess the pandemic's effects, only to have students forced out again.
8 min read
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021. Louisiana students, who were back in class after a year and a half of COVID-19 disruptions kept many of them at home, are now missing school again after Hurricane Ida. A quarter-million public school students statewide have no school to report to, though top educators are promising a return is, at most, weeks away, not months.
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021.
John Locher/AP
Education Massachusetts National Guard to Help With Busing Students to School
250 guard personnel will be available to serve as drivers of school transport vans, as districts nationwide struggle to hire enough drivers.
1 min read
Massachusetts National Guard soldiers help with logistics in this Friday, April 17, 2020 file photo, at a food distribution site outside City Hall, in Chelsea, Mass. Mass. Gov. Charlie Baker on Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, activated the state's National Guard to help with busing students to school as districts across the country struggle to hire enough drivers.
Massachusetts National Guard soldiers help with logistics in this Friday, April 17, 2020 file photo, at a food distribution site outside City Hall, in Chelsea, Mass.
Michael Dwyer/AP
Education FDA: ‘Very, Very Hopeful’ COVID Shots Will Be Ready for Younger Kids This Year
Dr. Peter Marks said he is hopeful that COVID-19 vaccinations for 5- to 11-year-olds will be underway by year’s end. Maybe sooner.
4 min read
Dr. Peter Marks, director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research in the Food and Drug Administration, testifies during a Senate health, education, labor, and pensions hearing to examine an update from federal officials on efforts to combat COVID-19 on Capitol Hill in Washington on May 11, 2021. On Friday, Sept. 10, 2021, Marks urged parents to be patient, saying the agency will rapidly evaluate vaccines for 5- to 11-year-olds as soon as it gets the needed data.
Dr. Peter Marks, director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research in the Food and Drug Administration, testifies during a Senate health, education, labor, and pensions hearing to examine an update from federal officials on efforts to combat COVID-19 on Capitol Hill in Washington on May 11, 2021.
Jim Lo Scalzo/AP