Review: Policy labs and evidence use in education

December 20, 2023
The Jacobs Foundation is collaborating with EdLabs across four countries to enhance evidence use in education policy, addressing the limited systematic evidence on policy labs' effectiveness. This review, analyses key issues and provides practical recommendations for their mission.

Policy labs are a popular approach in efforts to strengthen evidence use across diverse sectors. Despite their prevalence, however, there is little systematic evidence of their effectiveness.

The Jacobs Foundation seeks to address this gap, as part of a broader collective effort to maximise the effectiveness of EdLab models in supporting the use of evidence in education. In October 2023, the foundation convened partner EdLabs and other interested stakeholders, with the aim of catalysing alignment and collaboration and identifying next steps and key questions to explore.

To move forward in their endeavour, the Jacobs Foundation and its partners first need to understand the existing evidence base on policy labs as a means of institutionalising evidence use in education.

To this end, the review weaves together three main strands of fast-growing literature and practice: evidence-informed policy (across sectors); evidence use in the education sector; and the rapid expansion of policy labs in this space. It provides an initial analysis of key issues, lessons, and gaps. The review then considers the implications of this information for policy labs aiming to strengthen evidence use in education. We conclude with practical recommendations for the Jacobs Foundation, its partners, and other stakeholders to advance their efforts.

An earlier version of this report was circulated as background material for the convening in October 2023.

For time-poor readers: Learning brief: Policy labs and evidence use in education

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