A $44 million program called the Educational Innovation Laboratory aims to infuse education with the data-driven approach that is common in science and business, reports the New York Times. Roland G. Fryer Jr., a Harvard economist, has often complained that while pharmaceutical companies have poured billions of dollars each year into studying new drugs and Boeing devoted $3 billion to develop the 777 jet, there has been little spent on efforts to scientifically test educational theories. Now Dr. Fryer has quit his part-time post as chief equality officer of the New York City public schools to lead the Educational Innovation Laboratory, which intends to bring the rigor of research and development to education. The initiative will team economists, marketers, and others interested in turning around struggling schools with educators in New York, Washington, and Chicago. Backed by the Broad Foundation, founded by the billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad, and other private groups, the research is intended to infuse education with the data-driven approach that is common in science and business, Dr. Fryer said. He compared the current methods of educational research to the prescriptions of an ineffective doctor. "If the doctor said to you, ‘You have a cold; here are three pills my buddy in Charlotte uses and he says they work,’ you would run out and find another doctor," Dr. Fryer said. "Somehow, in education, that approach is O.K." In its first year, the research group plans to focus on incentive programs, including controversial ideas like giving students cash for good test scores, an approach that Dr. Fryer has tested in New York since June 2007…

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