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The Problem With Education Research Fixated on ‘What Works?’

April 22, 2019 Education Week

By: Rick Hess

When I consider the state of education research today, I can’t help but think of Samuel Jackson’s classic line from Pulp Fiction: “If my answers frighten you, Vincent, then you should cease asking scary questions.” Over the past decade or two, “sophisticated” education research has done just that: stopped asking scary questions. Big-dollar, widely-cited research has shied away from asking complicated, sometimes scary questions about how programs and policies actually work, choosing to focus on asking “What works?”—a query that promises to provide safe, sure answers.

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