Federal educational policy, funding, and legislation are currently forwarding a research agenda described by the current administration as "scientifically based." We characterize this agenda, described in multiple official documents as "the gold standard," as neopositivist. We consider the ways in which this research paradigm and the methods that accompany it (i.e., randomized field trials) are particularly problematic for knowledge generation in adult basic education, an important subfield of adult education. We focus on three areas of concern that exemplify in significant ways the limitations of scientifically based research: the contexts of adult basic education, the ways in which practitioners use research, and the state of the knowledge base.
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