The What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) was established in 2002 with funding from the U.S. Department of Education. The Clearinghouse was charged with producing user-friendly guides for educators on effective instructional practices in order to understand what instructional programs have been shown to be effective. Unfortunately, the WWC has failed to live up to its promise.

The WWC's reports promote curricula that the scientific community has found to be ineffective and inefficient and denigrate those that the scientific community has found to be highly effective. Here are some of the major problems documented by NIFDI staff:WWC logo2

  • The WWC ignores large elements of the research base in searching the research literature.
  • The WWC uses inconsistent and flawed criteria to choose studies to examine in depth.
  • The WWC’s interpretations of the research are often inaccurate and misrepresent the conclusions of the studies.
  • The WWC’s procedures and methods are very different than those used by most social scientists and widely accepted in the scientific community.

NIFDI staff have documented numerous problems with the procedures and reports of the What Works Clearinghouse. Learn more about some of these issues in the articles and reports below.

Does the What Works Clearinghouse Really Work?: Investigations into Issues of Policy, Practice, and Transparency (January, 2017)  
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The Threshold and Inclusive Approaches to Determining "Best Available Evidence": An Empirical Analysis (2016)
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Examining the Inaccuracies and Mystifying Policies and Standards of the What Works Clearinghouse: Findings from a FOIA Request (October, 2014) 
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What is a Valid Scientific Study? An Analysis of Selection Criteria Used by the What Works Clearinghouse (August, 2014) 
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Reading Mastery for Beginning Readers: An Analysis of Errors in a What Works Clearinghouse Report (August, 2014) 
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Does the What Works Clearinghouse Work? (September, 2013) 
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The What Works Clearinghouse Review Process: An Analysis of Errors in Two Recent Reports (July, 2013) 
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Examining the What Works Clearinghouse and its Reviews of Direct Instruction Programs (Spring, 2013) 
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A summary of concerns regarding the What Works Clearinghouse. (September, 2012) 
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Reading Mastery and students with learning disabilities: A comment on the What Works Clearinghouse review (July, 2012) 
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Merging the Accountability and Scientific Research Requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act: Using Cohort Control Groups (December, 2011) 
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An Analysis of the Fidelity Implementation Policies of the What Works Clearinghouse (Fall, 2010)
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The What Works Clearinghouse Beginning Reading Reports and Rating of Reading Mastery: An Evaluation and Comment (September, 2008)
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To learn more about concerns others have with the WWC's work, visit the links below.

pdf Machinations of What Works Clearinghouse by Siegfried Engelmann
What Doesn't Work Clearinghouse by Jay Greene (Oct 2010)
  pdf Perspectives on Evidence-Based Research in Education by Robert Slavin (Educational Researcher, Jan/Feb 2008)
  pdf Does What Works Clearinghouse Work? by Genevieve McArthur (Australasian Journal of Special Ed., Apr 2008)

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