What Works Clearinghouse

Prepared for
U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences
What Works Clearinghouse


States, school districts, and teachers are increasingly being held accountable for or incentivized to improve their students’ academic achievement. As a result, educators are turning to research and focusing on evidence-based decision making for guidance on choosing the right programs and methods for their students. Yet with the high volume of research evidence available, it can be difficult to identify quality research and discern what works from what doesn’t.

In 2002, the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences established the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) to collect, review, and report on studies of education interventions. The WWC produces a variety of publications and resources across 15 topics in education, all designed to help practitioners find what works for their classrooms and schools and promote rigorous standards in education research. Mathematica played a central role in administering the WWC, including expanding the resources available to educators, revising and authoring standards for reviewing education research, and exploring an array of topics that are at the forefront of education decision making.

In recent years, the WWC added new topic areas, including Children and Youth with Disabilities, Science, and Teacher Effectiveness. In addition to intervention reports that summarize the research on a program or practice, WWC quick reviews and single study reviews are now available to provide timely assessments of the quality of individual education studies. New WWC practice guides are also available, covering a variety of instructional topics including teaching reading, writing, and math and managing behavior in the classroom. The guides offer strategies and tips that teachers can implement in their classrooms as well as solutions to common roadblocks they might encounter. To maintain transparency with the public, review guides and handbooks detailing WWC processes and procedures are also publicly available as well as databases of reviewed studies, findings, and certified reviewers.

Mathematica administered the WWC in partnership with Development Services Group, Inc. and Sanametrix, Inc., leading firms with expertise in education and research methodology.