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Office of Planning and Research

The How Do We Know Initiative

What are evidence-based interventions?

Evidence-based interventions are practices or programs that have evidence to show that they are effective at producing results and improving outcomes when implemented as intended. Generally, findings about evidence have been produced through published peer-reviewed studies and research.

Evidence-based interventions have been shown to have a positive effect on the outcomes of interest (e.g., student literacy, school climate, on-time graduation). Although prior positive findings increase the odds of future success, they don't guarantee it. Evidence-based interventions will be more likely to have a positive effect if you implement them in a context and with the fidelity consistent with the original research.

  • Context Matters: Every intervention is implemented in a particular context and with a particular population. If you implement an intervention that evidence has demonstrated worked, but in a context different from your own (e.g., different enrollment size or community characteristics) or with students different than those you plan to serve (e.g., English language learners, students with disabilities), it is not known whether the intervention will address the challenge you are attempting to tackle. This means that you have to look for the strongest available evidence for your context.

  • Fidelity Matters: Evidence on whether an intervention works also specifically relates to how the intervention was implemented. Changing parts of an intervention—for example, adapting materials, conducting trainings on a different frequency, or omitting or adding content— can reduce the relevance of the prior evidence on the intervention. You can find helpful resources on fidelity of implementation at:

DESE will continue to update and expand this page to provide districts and schools with greater access to information about evidence-based practices from here in Massachusetts and nationwide. Please contact Kendra Winner with any suggestions or comments at (781) 338-3129 or .

Last Updated: November 29, 2023

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