The revised Elementary and Secondary Education Act, recently approved by Congress and also known as the "No Child Left Behind Act," mandates that educators base school programs and teaching practices on "scientifically based research." This includes everything from teaching approaches to drug abuse prevention. APA contributed to the definition, which is as follows.

Scientifically based research is work that:

  • Involves the application of rigorous, systematic, and objective procedures to obtain reliable and valid knowledge relevant to education activities and programs;

  • Includes research that employs systematic, empirical methods that provide reliable and valid data across evaluators and observers, across multiple measurements and observations, and across studies by the same or different investigators;

  • Is evaluated using experimental or quasi-experimental designs in which individuals, entities, programs or activities are assigned to different conditions and with appropriate controls to evaluate the effects of the condition of interest, with a preference for random assignment experiments or other designs to the extent that those designs contain within-condition or across-condition controls;

  • Ensures that experimental studies are presented in sufficient detail and clarity to allow for replication or, at a minimum, offer the opportunity to build systematically on their findings; and has been accepted by a peer-reviewed journal or approved by a panel of independent experts through a comparably rigorous, objective and scientific review.