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What Works ClearinghouseTM (WWC) reviews are designed to provide education practitioners and policymakers with timely and objective assessments of the quality of research evidence. WWC reviews focus primarily on studies of the effectiveness of education or school-based interventions serving students in early childhood education through 12th grade, as well as students in postsecondary settings. However, in some instances, they might focus on studies of interventions serving other groups, such as teachers or other school leaders.

All WWC reviews are governed by a review protocol that describes the procedures that will be followed when conducting the review. When a study has been identified through a literature search defined by a WWC protocol, such as a topic area protocol for preparing WWC intervention reports or a protocol for preparing a WWC practice guide, the study review is guided by that protocol. However, the WWC also reviews studies that have been identified through other means and that may not fall under the umbrella of a more specific review protocol. The version 3.1 and 4.0 protocols guide such reviews of individual studies. These review-specific protocols are used in conjunction with version 3.0 and version 4.0 of the WWC Procedures and Standards Handbooks, respectively.

Protocol Details

  • Version: 4.0
  • Released: May 2019
  • Version: 3.1
  • Released: April 2020
  • Version: 3.0
  • Released: May 2016

What is a Protocol?

The What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) uses the Study Review Protocol to review all studies, including those cited as evidence for U.S. Department of Education grant competitions, studies that were funded by the Department, and studies identified for systematic reviews of evidence based on a search of the research literature in a particular topic area. As articulated in the WWC Procedures and Standards Handbook, Version 5.0, when the Study Review Protocol is used to review studies for systematic reviews, an accompanying topic area synthesis protocol will provide criteria for the literature search; guidance on how to identify and prioritize relevant studies for review and inclusion in evidence synthesis products; and guidance on intervention, sample, and outcome eligibility criteria for the synthesis.

The Study Review Protocol is used in combination with the WWC Handbook to guide the review of all studies by the WWC. In particular, the Study Review Protocol provides additional information on eligible outcome domains for all topic areas reviewed by the WWC and provides examples of outcome measures that fall within each domain. Starting in January 2021 with the release of the Study Review Protocol, Version 1.0, the WWC publishes an updated version of the Study Review Protocol to align with an updated version of the WWC Handbook. The current version of this protocol, the Study Review Protocol, Version 5.0, was published in March 2023 to accompany the WWC Procedures and Standards Handbook, Version 5.0.

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