Schools are continually spending money and time on unproven methods (including most of their curriculum). All any salesperson has to do is show up with one study that says it’s effective and the adminsration is drooling all over it. Never mind the studies that didn’t work, or the massive number of other interventions that were included that muddy the waters of whether the technique itself was effective or these other changes. And they’ll even ignore the demographics of groups picked in the study and assume that because it worked with that group it would work with their group. School directors really need an education in how to read and apply statistics and credible study evidence.
In our Montessori school, I had a huge argument about Brain Gym with the director (just one of the reasons I left). His newest teacher was using Brain Gym techniques with the students. An example includes repeatedly squeezing the skin above the sternum and the skin between the collarbones to 'wake up your brain.' He said it was perfectly valid because other schools were using it and it was scientific (???). After I sent him an analysis (done by someone else--I'm not a statistician) of the studies presented about Brain Gym (what there were), he backed off.
He then asked my opinion of this other 'really great program' that someone had just tried to sell them. This one was based on Sensory Disintegration theory (it was years ago, Bridges Learning). It took almost no time to discover the Sensory Disintegration was not a scientifically recognized disorder and that none of the approaches attempting to remedy problems supposedly based in SD showed (statistically) significant improvements. The study then reported on the Bridges site showed improvement with inner-city kids (of which we had ZERO at our Montessori school) and the program involved a lot of extra teachers and a lot of physical activity and a lot of individual time. All of those things can affect learning independently of any of the sensory disintegration therapy--and you don't need to buy a big program to do it.
I am not at all surprised to find that most school systems do not look for evidence of effectiveness when it comes time to choose curriculum. The school boards either wouldn't believe research because of their preconceived ideas, would find excuses to count it or discount the research because they've already made a decision, they don't believe that 'evidence' is a valid way to pick curriculum, or they can't figure out how to interpret the studies to begin with. A little bitter sounding, eh? I am quite disgusted with the lack of scientific literacy of those teaching our children (and by that, I mean other people's children).