STAFF BLOG: Ohio’s Evidence-Based Clearinghouse...A Resource to Empower Educators — Heather Boughton, Director of Research, Evaluation and Advanced Analytics

9/13/2018

By: Staff Blogger

GettyImages-947450908.jpgI have a 2-year-old and 5-year-old at home, and I often feel that much of parenting involves making up semi-reasonable answers to a continuous stream of questions. I do this with the hope that my kids don’t realize I am just figuring this parenting thing out as I go. Currently, “Why?” and “How does that work?” are among the most popular questions. Recently, I am getting follow-up questions like “How do you know?” or — on far too many occasions — “Why don’t you know?”

If I am being honest, I cannot say that I am always patient with my kids’ questions, which can range from the existential, “What is the meaning of life?” variety to “Why can’t you find that one tiny Lego piece that is essential for my current creation?” Sometimes I get both questions in the span of one breath.   “Mommy just doesn’t have all the answers, dear” is sometimes the best I can muster.

Fortunately, there are days when I can take a step back and appreciate how amazing it is to be born with this curiosity and desire to learn about how things work in the world. In those moments, I remember how important it is to encourage my children to ask their questions and, beyond simply providing answers, I can teach them how to find answers.

I’m a bit of a research and data geek, so I find it exciting to consider how my children are natural researchers, constantly collecting evidence and information. I sincerely hope they will keep this curiosity as they grow, using it not only to enrich their own lives but also to benefit others.

As professionals in the education field, we should all get in the habit of asking questions, seeking out answers and then applying what we learn. Doing so is a powerful practice that lies at the very heart of continuous improvement in education. True continuous improvement requires a commitment to working, every day, to improve all students’ educational experiences, opportunities and outcomes.  

Ohio’s Empowered by Evidence initiative celebrates that power and aims to support Ohio’s educators as they seek answers to the important questions about education in Ohio’s districts and schools. Consider the following questions, fundamental to continuous improvement:

  • In our state, in our districts, in our schools and classrooms, what are our students’ most critical needs?
  • What are the ways we can meet those needs?
  • Are some options for meeting those needs better than others?
  • Once we decide how we are going to address a need, how will we know whether we are successful?

As significant as these questions and their answers are, equally important is how do we know? What is the evidence — or the proof — that what we believe to be true is true? What is the evidence that we will use to support the decisions we make to improve education? And how will we know the steps we’re taking to improve student outcomes are working?  

Think of all the things that Ohio’s educators do every day to support Ohio’s students. When every day is an opportunity to give the best supports possible to each student in Ohio, it is critical the decisions we’re making and the actions we’re taking to do so are evidence based.

Evidence-based strategies are those things that educators are doing that have been evaluated, through high-quality research, and proven to work. When educators use evidence-based strategies to address their students’ needs, they can be confident those strategies will work. 

Ohio’s Evidence-Based Clearinghouse is available to everyone as part of the Empowered by Evidence initiative. It is a new collection of resources designed to help educators connect to evidence-based strategies to support their students. It brings the power of research — asking and answering questions about what works in education — to Ohio’s educators in a meaningful and actionable way. The clearinghouse sheds light on the use of evidence-based strategies, helps educators find evidence-based strategies that fit their needs and offers information on resources developed by other national clearinghouses.

Using evidence-based strategies can go a long way toward enabling success for each student. Ohio is committed to assisting educators in this effort and ensuring Ohio’s Evidence-Based Clearinghouse will serve as a dynamic and growing resource for educators in Ohio’s schools.

Heather Boughton is the director of the Office of Research, Evaluation and Advanced Analytics at the Ohio Department of Education. She believes in the power of data to tell stories that will shed light on education in Ohio.  She works to empower educators to use information, data and research to improve education for Ohio’s students. To contact Heather, click here.

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