Key Initiatives

Actionable Evidence

An initiative that worked to improve outcomes by promoting timely, credible, practical “actionable evidence” that is equitably produced

There is broad agreement that too much education evidence is disconnected from practice. Well-designed and well-conducted research often languishes on shelves, unused by educators administrators or policymakers, while untested programs and practices are adopted. School districts and nonprofits sometimes wait years for study results that offer little practical guidance, or guidance that is too late to be useful. Researchers are routinely rewarded for peer-reviewed publications regardless of their practical or policy relevance, but less reliably rewarded for producing evidence that is timely, credible and useful to practitioners. 

Those least well served by the status quo in education are also most harmed by our failure to build, share, and use evidence well. Persistent racial and economic segregation leads to disparities in educational experiences and outcomes for students of color and students experiencing poverty. The lasting effects of the COVID-19 pandemic will likely exacerbate educational inequities along racial and economic lines for years to come.

In 2020, Project Evident, with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, launched the Actionable Evidence Initiative to engage stakeholders in the education sector to accelerate the development of evidence and solutions to improve outcomes for students who are Black, Latino/a/x, or experiencing poverty. Its intent was to empower and equip the broad range of leaders and practitioners who directly shape the experiences of students and families to build and use evidence in service of equity — primarily by supporting researchers, technical assistance providers, funders, and policymakers to adopt actionable evidence approaches that prioritized practitioners’ learning and decision making and centered on community needs and voices.

Actionable Evidence Initiative Activities

Actionable Evidence Framework

Developed with a community of researchers, practitioners, funders, and policymakers to promote a shared understanding of the principles that define actionable evidence.

Case studies

A series of case studies that illustrate how researchers, practitioners, funders, and policymakers are exemplifying principles of the Actionable Evidence Framework.

Actionable Evidence network

We are building a network of researchers, technical assistance providers, funders, practitioners, and policymakers to facilitate knowledge sharing and dissemination of best practices, insights, tools, and use cases to promote more wide-spread use of actionable evidence.

matching practitioners to researchers

We are testing solutions to help practitioners identify and connect with researchers who support actionable evidence approaches.

Actionable Evidence Initiative Advisory Committee

  • Isaac Castillo, Director of Outcomes, Assessment, and Learning, Venture Philanthropy Partners + Raise DC
  • Dr. Lashawn Richburg-Hayes, Vice President for Education, Insight Policy Research
  • Dr. Janelle Scott, Professor, UC Berkeley
  • Dr. Jason Snipes, Director of Research-Practice Partnerships, WestED
  • Dr. Vivian Tseng, Senior Vice President, Program, William T. Grant Foundation

“Two things stood out for me: the need to build awareness among funders of the resources and capacities required to do ‘actionable evidence generation’ well; and the importance of engaging evaluators, researchers, and staff who are more representative of the communities in which we work.”

Actionable Evidence Convening Participant