John Bush

Associate Director, Evidence for Learning
Speaking at

Dr. John Quach

Research Fellow, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute

Professor Janet Clinton

Director, The Centre for Program Evaluation, University of Melbourne


Bridging the Divide: RCTs, Improvement and Transformation

In the past decade, there has been an increased call for educational interventions to demonstrate their impact on children’s learning outcomes when implemented at a systems level. Schools, policy-makers and education-focused philanthropists want to know that their investments stand to yield a good return in outcomes for young people and society. This is often characterized as the education improvement paradigm. In parallel, there is an increasing recognition that education systems must prepare young people for an increasingly complex and less certain future. There is a concomitant recognition that, to respond to this need, education systems will need to transform themselves and foster innovation in teaching and learning practices. This is often characterized as the education transformation paradigm.

In the more extreme examples of the education discourse, educational improvement and educational transformation are often pitted against each other as mutually exclusive. This is a false dichotomy that can be bridged through support for the initial development of educational innovations and their evaluation by randomized controlled trial at an appropriate stage in their development.

The session will introduce Evidence for Learning’s Learning Impact Fund, which funds RCTs on Australian education programs, and then present case studies to explain key design features to make RCTs viable and valuable in education.


John’s career spans education and social enterprise, with expertise in leading and managing education social enterprises; grant-making and evaluation; designing and developing transformative learning experiences; and recruiting and developing exceptional teachers. He has transferred his classroom teaching and school leadership experience in the United States and Australia into designing, developing and managing programs in Australia and to evaluating program implementation and impact. At Evidence for Learning, John is responsible for grant-making and evaluation through the Learning Impact Fund and managing international relationships to develop practice guides for Australian educators.