Here's an interesting story about how the use of the term "scientifically-based research" in NCLB is being debated behind the scenes. From Education Week:
Scientific’ Label in Law Stirs Debate
Proposals could reduce focus on randomized experimentsBy Debra Viadero
While other ideas for revamping the No Child Left Behind Act are taking center stage, a quiet debate is unfolding over proposals to tinker with the law’s definition of what constitutes “scientifically based research” in education.
The phrase is one of the most oft-repeated in the lengthy text of the nearly 6-year-old law. Sprinkled through the federal education statute more than 100 times, the references to “scientifically based research” require educators to rely on such studies in choosing everything from approaches to reading instruction to anti-drug programs for students. And that’s not to mention the law’s use of such related terms as “evidence-based” research.
But the legislative definition of “scientifically based research,” which favors randomized or experimental studies over other kinds of research in determining what works in schools, has also been criticized for promoting a narrow view of educational scholarship.
Leaders of the House Education and Labor Committee, in a draft proposal for reauthorizing the NCLB law circulating since late summer, would tone down that emphasis on scientific experiments by stipulating that studies aimed at determining whether an educational program or practice works may include—but are not limited to—random-assignment experiments.
More here (registration required):