Accelerating economic mobility, advancing equity and creating better living conditions for residents are goals that drive much of state spending, but how do states know if their investments are going to be effective? Increasingly, states are developing data-driven and evidence-based practices to determine where to get the highest returns on their investments, according to the nonprofit Results for America.
In collaboration with the National Governors Association, the organization on Thursday announced the recipients of the 2022 Invest in What Works State Standard of Excellence, which the groups called a “national benchmark” and a “North Star for how state governments invest in what works.”
Eight states — Colorado, Connecticut, Minnesota, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Utah and Washington — were heralded for developing effective and innovative strategies to decide where to make investments. (Another nine states were given honorable mentions for their efforts: Arizona, California, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island and Texas.)
Connecticut was recognized for creating a team dedicated to coordinating and evaluating spending received from the American Rescue Plan Act, while Tennessee allocated $135 million to evidence-based summer learning programs to support students who fell behind in their learning during the pandemic.
Results for America identified 263 examples of data-driven and evidence-based strategies active in 41 states as of August 2022. A total of 58 state grant programs, totaling $770 million in 2022, met Results for America’s criteria for effective evidence-based strategies, an increase of 24 states and 27 grant programs from 2021.
“In this year’s State Standard of Excellence, we saw a significant acceleration of efforts by state leaders across the country to build evidence and use it to invest in what works,” Results for America CEO Michele Jolin said a press release. “States are investing their own funds as well as federal funds to build and strengthen their evidence and data capacity, and investing in evaluations to help ensure they are delivering the best results for their residents.”