In The Best Available Evidence: Decision-Making for Educational Improvement, the editors and contributing authors explore the intricacies of working with data and evidence for the purpose or organizational development in educational institutions. A broad theme that runs throughout this book is the need for policy makers and practitioners to be informed and critical consumers of educational research. The chapters in this volume explore quantitative, qualitative, narrative, and practitioner research approaches and explore the implications for evidence use in educational improvement efforts.
Many current texts provide an instrumental resource for educational leaders for use in designing road maps for improvement. As such, these texts offer a perspective based on assumptions that educational personnel are the recipients of predetermined knowledge and evidence, and it is the task of instructors and teachers to implement received knowledge of "best practice". In this book, we suggest that teachers, instructors, educational leaders, and policy makers are equally engaged in the creation of knowledge and the establishment of improvement objectives. Further, we address questions concerning what constitutes improvement, how practitioners and policy makers can assess the utility and veracity of evidence, and how evidence might be considered in productive and ethical ways. This volume is intended for a broad readership of teachers, post-secondary instructors, graduate students, educational leaders, and policy makers. Finally, this book will combine K-12 perspectives on educational improvement with perspectives from the research on post-secondary improvement.