Why reinvent the wheel? If others have taken the time to figure out what the best (or, at least, a better) way of doing things is, why not build on that hard-earned wisdom? Registries of evidence-based programs allow educational leaders to learn from available rigorous research and to focus their energy on effectively implementing programs with proven track records.
Say, for example, that your school wants to address bullying. Experts already know quite a bit about what doesn’t work:
- Zero tolerance policies—or “three strikes and you’re suspended or expelled”—can actually discourage reporting of bullying because students or teachers don’t want to be responsible for such a serious punishment.
- Using conflict resolution or peer mediation can further traumatize the bullied child by sending the message that he or she is partly responsible for the victimization.
- Group treatment for children who bully can create opportunities for students to reinforce each others’ antisocial behaviors.
- Short-term solutions typically lead to short-term results—if any change results at all.
Fortunately, experts also know quite a bit about what does work: comprehensive long-term strategies that change the school climate by reinforcing respectful interactions. Consulting an evidence-based registry of safe and supportive school programs can help your school community narrow down the available options that have been shown to have an impact. That way your focus can be on choosing which program (among programs that have already been vetted) would best meet your community’s needs.