A Partnership between Evidence-Based Policy and Practice-Based Evidence

Paul Lingenfelter, president emeritus of the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association, recently reflected on the impasse between policymakers and educational practitioners in the Carnegie Commons blog. Excerpts from his piece appear below:

Educators and policymakers together have failed to develop the capabilities needed to achieve the higher levels of education achievement demanded in the 21st century. They need to change how they work, and they especially need to change how they work together.

Most practitioners agree with policymakers that equity, academic rigor, and 21st century student readiness are desirable goals for public education. But there is no consensus on how to achieve those goals. What should be evidence-based deliberations have instead descended into a public blame game that has incited battling bloggers and clashing advocacy groups over the past few decades.

Recommendations for Policymakers

  • Recognize the limits of policy and the need for policy to encourage and support sophisticated practice.
  • Employ evidence to identify priorities for investment and evaluate existing policy.
  • Enact policies to invest in talent and the capabilities of practitioners and scholars to become disciplined and effective in using evidence for improvement.

Recommendations for Practitioners

  • Accept the responsibility for achieving better outcomes through more effective practice.
  • Establish clear, measurable objectives for practice and demonstrate the commitment and capability for improvement by designing, testing, and adapting interventions to improve outcomes.
  • Partner with policymakers to develop supportive policies and effective practices.

To read the blog post, see:


To read Lingenfelter’s original article that inspired this reflection, see: