The Research Framework outlines a process of assessing evidence that asks questions related to important aspects of interpreting research findings. The Research Framework provides a sound methodology for reviewing practices to determine whether or not these practices can be considered “best practices” in education. This Research Framework is a new feature of the Best Practices Clearinghouse (BPC) and served as the basis for establishing standards for the review of the evidence to ensure that the Best Practice Summaries are evidence-based and practical.
Development of the Research Framework
Beginning with new Best Practice Summaries added to the BPC during the 2009-10 school year, the BPC Evidence Types are based on this new Research Framework and Evidence Standards to ensure that all identified best practices: (1) are evidence-based, (2) meet a meaningful threshold of effectiveness, (3) are generalizable, and (4) provide actionable information to help practitioners implement practices. The Evidence Standards are working guidelines and are modified as necessary to reflect feedback from the field and closer alignment with educator needs. The figure below illustrates the process of assessing the evidence associated with best practices included in the BPC.
The BPC Research Framework
Application of the Research Framework
The assessment of evidence must start with a solid foundation in order to be successful. Because all subsequent steps in the framework rest on the first step, it is imperative that all practices are evidence-based and have evidence strong enough to generate valid conclusions (i.e., have internal validity). The BPC must have confidence in the evidence before potential application of an approach or program can be assessed. Next, the BPC determines how much of an impact the approach/program demonstrated (i.e., strength of results). If a rigorous research study demonstrated no effects, the BPC will not publish a summary because it would not be worthwhile to replicate that particular intervention (unless other―and hopefully better―evidence becomes available). If the BPC has confidence in the results and an intervention has meaningful effects, its application to a particular setting can be assessed by considering the context in which it was originally implemented. Researchers call this external validity, also known as the generalizability of findings. Finally, the BPC must help practitioners determine how to implement best practices. The replication process is often overlooked in clearinghouse work, but it is extraordinarily important. Because most districts will modify interventions based on local conditions (and especially, the availability of resources), it is the responsibility of the BPC to provide enough detail to allow consumers to understand what key implementation steps are required.