Larry Cuban has just published an important post titled The Sham and Shame Of Best Practices.
He discusses how the concept of “best practices” is adapted from the medical world, where it has also been criticized.
Here’s a key paragraph where he describes an analysis done of the concept in health care:
According to Groopman, experts who recommended “best practice” treatments (and their advice became Medicare mandates to all physicians) “did not distinguish between medical practices that can be standardized and not significantly altered by the condition of the individual patient, and those that must be adapted to a particular person.” He gives the example of putting a catheter into a blood vessel, a procedure that involves the same steps for every patient to avoid infection. This “one-size-fits-all” mechanical procedure differs from prescribing a “best practice” for a complex disease such as diabetes, congestive heart failure, or breast cancer. Not making this critical distinction leads experts to overreach in their recommendations to practitioners and, in time, turn a “best practice” such as hormone replacement therapy for women into a fad. A similar situation plagues school reform.
And here’s Larry Cuban’s verdict: