Australia’s national education evidence body

A tool to help you use evidence to make decisions about a new or existing policy, program or other initiative based on AERO’s standards of evidence.

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Introduction

The Evidence decision-making tool assists you to:

  1. assess how confident you are that a certain policy, program or other initiative is likely to be effective in your context
  2. decide on next steps, including how to implement the initiative given your level of confidence and how to collect more evidence to increase your confidence in its effectiveness.

The tool can be used by an individual or a group, for example, in a planning workshop. It’s designed to be flexible, so you can use it to consider a change to an existing initiative or the introduction of something new.

The tool provides a structured way to help you consider the rigour and relevance of the evidence supporting an initiative objectively, but it’s not a set of rigid rules to follow. Sometimes it will be difficult to decide which category your evidence fits in and you’ll need to use your professional judgement to make a decision.

There is also an Evidence decision-making tool for practitioners in early childhood or school settings to consider practice or program changes.

How do I use the Evidence decision-making tool?

How much confidence is enough?

Although high or very high confidence is preferable, sometimes there isn't enough evidence available to achieve these standards.

When evidence is lacking, use your professional judgement to weigh the potential benefits, costs and risks of implementing the initiative. For example, it may be acceptable to implement an initiative in which you have only low or medium confidence when not changing may do harm or when the consequences of implementing an ineffective initiative are small or have been appropriately mitigated. In these instances it is particularly important to carefully monitor and evaluate the effects of the initiative. The Evidence decision-making tool provides guidance for cautiously implementing an initiative and collecting more evidence when you have only low or medium confidence.

Remember, knowledge is constantly evolving and contexts change so the process of considering the evidence is never finished. It’s a good idea to revisit the evidence and reassess your confidence level as often as is reasonable given the importance of the decision you’re making.

Evidence decision-making tool for policymakers

How confident can I be about the effectiveness of a particular initiative in my context?

Identify the statement(s) that best describes the evidence you currently have to support this initiative. Your current level of confidence is the highest level for which you have evidence. For example, if you have both level 1 and level 3 evidence, your current level of confidence is level 3.

Given my level of confidence, how should I proceed?

Read the suggestions in the section that matches your current level of confidence.

Remember to keep monitoring the research evidence to stay up to date with evolving knowledge about effective practices, programs and policies in education.

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