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Managing Evidence: A CAEL Module

5/1/17 to 7/22/17

This is an online program with significant job-embedded learning.

Applies toward the Certificate in Advanced Education Leadership

Individual Tuition$2,250 per module  |  Teams of three or more$1,995 per team member

Priority Application Deadline: March 6, 2017

We are currently accepting and reviewing applications as space is available. For consideration, please submit an application at your earliest convenience, no later than April 17, 2017.


What does it really mean for an education program to be evidence-based? What would it mean for an entire school system to be evidence-based? How can you as a leader advance your system toward that goal?

In Managing Evidence, you will develop your ability to draw on multiple sources of evidence to inform policy and programmatic decisions. You will gain an understanding of key concepts in performance measurement, research design, and data analysis needed to become skilled consumers of education research and of qualitative and quantitative data generated within your own organizations.

You will begin by learning about a variety of research designs from randomized-control trials to matched comparison. Specific attention will be given to impact evaluation and the use of comparison groups in this form of evaluation research. From here, content moves from theory to practice. While evidence from rigorous impact evaluations can and should inform policy decisions, it is up to the skillful leader to exercise judgment in just how to apply the evaluation results to their own system. Topics of the practical side of the module include how to utilize evidence for making these critical decisions and then ultimately, how to ensure that your policies and programs are increasingly reflective of an evidence-based system. 

To encourage application of these various topics, job-embedded practice weeks provide you the opportunity to reflect on your learning and apply relevant concepts to your own system. Additionally, the final project leads you to connect the knowledge and skills from the module to your current work. You will articulate a problem of practice in your system, identify a strategy to address the problem, describe evidence that could be used to assess the success of this strategy, and develop a presentation to share this proposal in your school or system. 

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Upon completion of this module, you will be able to:

  • Evaluate the quality of empirical research and its implications
  • Recognize and apply key concepts in research design and analysis to system-level decision making
  • Identify opportunities to generate, or participate in, the production of high-quality evidence to inform future policy or practice
  • Strengthen the capacity of your system to make decisions based on high-quality internal and/or external evidence
Format and Delivery

Each module takes place over 12 weeks, moving through a cycle of learning, application, performance, and demonstration. Throughout the program, you will engage in a range of activities online, plus exercises carried out in your professional context.

Online activities include:

  • Reading
  • Watching videos
  • Taking short assessments
  • Participating in small-group virtual discussion, virtual discussion sections, and/or smaller self-organized breakout groups
  • Submitting a final project which demonstrates applied learning

The experience is designed to be both rigorous and flexible. The activities are asynchronous, meaning you can choose when within a given week you do them. Each week will require five to seven hours of work, with more guided work during the “learning” weeks (2, 3, 4, and 8) and more job-embedded practice and application during the other weeks of the module. Each participant will have a designated online learning facilitator whom he or she can contact directly for support.

Who Should Attend

Managing Evidence is intended for current leaders in preK-12 school systems, including:

  • Superintendents and district-level administrators
  • Directors of charter management organizations
  • Administrators at state agencies
  • Experienced principals and teachers who aspire to system-level roles
  • Teams of education leaders seeking to strengthen their skills and collaborative capabilities
Faculty Chair

Martin West is associate professor of education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a faculty research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research. He is also deputy director of the Harvard Kennedy School's Program on Education Policy and Governance and executive editor of Education Next, a journal of opinion and research on education policy.

About the Certificate in Advanced Education Leadership

The Certificate in Advanced Education Leadership is designed to help current and aspiring preK-12 system-level leaders develop a robust understanding of the complexities within educational systems, while honing the leadership skills to create transformational change.

The CAEL certificate is comprised of four online modules. All participants must complete the Leading Learning module, and can select three of the remaining four offerings. Leading Learning can be taken at any point within the certificate timeline. 

CAEL Modules:

Each module spans approximately 12 weeks. Coursework is flexible — you can begin with any module and complete modules in any order.

Following successful completion of four modules, a final assignment will be required to receive the Certificate in Advanced Education Leadership. This final assignment provides an opportunity to reflect on the CAEL journey and to look forward, considering opportunities for further application.


  • Make visible to yourself key learnings from CAEL
  • Show evidence of your learning
  • Identify questions and next steps for continued learning

The project will result in a 2-3 page reflection and is due one month after your fourth CAEL module. The primary audience for this document is YOU. A facilitator will provide brief feedback.

Enrollment for Individuals

Enrollment Instructions

Step One
You will be asked to provide your personal profile and organizational information.

Step Two
You will be asked to respond to the following questions:

  1. Explain how participation in the program will benefit your work, and describe one or more significant challenges you would like to explore during the program. (250 word limit)
  2. In what ways do you expect your particular skills, experience, and perspective to contribute to group discussions? (250 word limit)
Enrollment for Teams

Enrollment Instructions

Identify Your Team Coordinator

  • Before beginning the application process, you will need to identify a team coordinator.
  • The coordinator will be the primary point of contact during the application process and preparation for the program.
  • The coordinator must participate in the program and all team members must enroll in the same module to be eligible for the team rate.

The Application Process

  1. A team application to be completed once by the coordinator.
  2. A team member application to be completed by each member of your team.
  • In order for your team to be considered for review by the admissions committee, each team member will need to complete the team member application. The coordinator will receive a link to the team member application once the team application is complete.
  • Once started, the team application must be completed in a single session. It should take 15–20 minutes to complete.
  • A list of required questions will be provided at the beginning of the team application.
  • When your coordinator is ready to complete the team application, it can be accessed by continuing to the next page.
Fees and Policies

Tuition includes all instructional materials. Participants receive a certificate of competency as well as a letter confirming the amount of clock hours awarded per module (60 hours). CAEL does not provide course hour equivalents. 

Payment or a purchase order must be received within thirty days of program acceptance and prior to the program start. While a purchase order confirms enrollment, an outstanding balance is maintained until payment is rendered. 

Please click here for more information on our on-campus and online refund and withdrawal policies. If you have any additional questions or concerns about your ability to participate, please contact our admissions team at or 1-800-545-1849.

The Harvard Graduate School of Education reserves the right to change faculty or cancel programs at its discretion. In the unlikely event of program changes, the school is not responsible for non-refundable travel arrangements or other planning expenses incurred.

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