Institute for Evidence-Based Education

Institute for Evidence-Based Education


The mission of the Institute for Evidence-Based Education at SMU is to ensure that every student in every classroom has a highly effective teacher. A clear research base indicates that teacher effectiveness is the single most important school-related factor impacting student outcomes. This research illustrates that the most effective teachers produce as much as five times the learning gains among their students as the least effective teachers. However, the effectiveness of teachers varies tremendously from school to school and classroom to classroom. 

In truth, teachers today do as good a job educating our youth as the teachers who have come before, and students today perform about the same as students of the past. What is very different is that current job requirements demand higher levels of academic knowledge and skills. Never before have teachers been required to truly reach every student, even those who struggle. 

The Institute for Evidence-Based Education seeks to carry out this mission following a two-pronged approach that marries cutting-edge research with translation of that research into improved instructional practices of teachers. Since its founding in 2003, the Institute and its collaborating faculty have received approximately $16 million in external funding for various research studies, all of which focus on one of three areas:

  1. Creating and scientifically evaluating well-designed, curricular materials, strategies, and tools to assist teachers in delivering highly effective instruction,
  2. Designing valid, reliable ongoing assessment tools to help teachers determine which students are succeeding and which need additional support, and
  3. Examining the role technology can play supporting teachers through ongoing, job-embedded staff development, coaching, and professional communities of learning.

While research is important, its true value is only realized if findings of this research impact practice in the schools. Thus, current activities at the Institute increasingly focus on translating research into daily practice in our nation’s schools. Translational activities include:

  1. Making the curricular materials, assessments, strategies, and tools developed and empirically validated commercially available to the public,
  2. Supporting the implementation of curricular materials, assessments, strategies, and tools through staff development, and
  3. Helping schools to build human capital in the classroom through our technology-based coaching services.
The Institute is part of SMU’s Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development. Its faculty teaches in the teacher education program, including preschool teacher education, learning therapy, the Master Reading Teacher program, and the Bilingual Education program.