Pearson Implements Efficacy Frame & Shares it With Sector

Published last week is The Incomplete Guide to Delivering Learning Outcomesauthored by Sir Michael Barber, Pearson’s Chief Education Advisor, and Saad Rizvi, Senior Vice President of Efficacy, “the report shares Pearson’s ‘Efficacy Framework’, a review process designed to evaluate and improve impact on learning outcomes, and sets out the company’s strategy, initiatives and insights in applying it.”
This report is a big deal for two reasons.  First, it’s a big advance for the biggest learning company in the world to commit to a framework for better learner outcomes.  CEO John Fallon said, “Our aim is to ensure that every action, every decision, every process, and every investment we make will be driven by a clear sense and understanding of how it will make a measurable impact on learning outcomes.”
Second, Pearson not only shared the efficacy framework with the sector, but they built an web app where you can get a report on the likely impact of your educational product or serve–kind of like a prospective for EdTech.
Barber states, “Education is so linked to the wellbeing of individuals and of the economy that we need much more rigorous systems in place to ensure it is working, urgently.  Thanks to the growing body of research and data, and the opportunity of technology, achieving efficacy in education is not only as pressing, but now just as possible as in healthcare.”

Pearson’s efficacy framework asks that reviewers “the tough questions” meant to assess a product or strategy along four areas and a dozen points considered essential for determining if a tool can achieve it’s intended learning results:

Outcomes and Impact: What Outcomes Are We Trying to Achieve?

  • Intended outcomes
  • Overall Design
  • Value for money

Strength of Evidence Base: What Evidence Do We Have?

  • Comprehensiveness of evidence
  • Quality of evidence
  • Application of evidence

Quality of Planning and Implementation: What is Our Plan to Achieve this? 

  • Action plan
  • Governance
  • Monitoring and reporting

Capacity to Deliver: What Capabilities Do We Have to Deliver This Plan?

  • Internal capacity and culture
  • User capacity and culture
  • Stakeholder relationships

Once the review process is done, the focus shifts to developing action steps that can be completed to improve learning outcomes, no matter what is the purpose and goal of the tool. It is a set of questions that allows stakeholders to truly think about how lives be improved by learning by what we do on a daily basis.
Finally, reviews recommend how products can improve learner outcomes, by using data analytics, digital technology or by applying research insights. Pearson plans to use the framework to determine how they can support innovation and product development as well as invest and acquire in order to deliver higher quality learning and make a greater impact.
Asking More. Along with the efficacy framework, Pearson published, Asking More: The Path to Efficacybringing together articles from leading educators and business,  highlighting the  opportunity for a global focus on education outcomes for all.
Fallon’s preface lays out the hypothesis, “The elements of learning can be mapped out, the variables isolated and a measurable impact on learning predicted and delivered.”
Barber outlines the challenge of supporting quality outcomes at scale and says Pearson is “encouraging employees to be imaginative, to broaden their horizons from a constrained set of inputs, and to challenge and improve existing ways of doing things.”
The booklet opens and closes with chapters outlining the need for better assessments.   Hewlett Foundation Executive Director Barbara Chow outlines the path to Deeper Learning starting with better standards and “richer and more probing assessments that emphasise writing and academic interrogation, and do a far better job of measuring what matters;” and is backed up by “serious capacity-building.” Peter Hill argues that “we should use assessment to gain insight into increasingly nuanced dimensions of teaching and learning.”
In between Andreas Schleicher outlines the lessons from PISA and Ken Robinson argues that creativity is a “process not an event, that it generates value, and that even the act of judging creativity involves creativity.”
Both reports are worth a quick read.  I think we’ll find ourselves coming back to both.
Pearson is a Getting Smart Advocacy Partner. 

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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