The aim of the Top Institute for Evidence Based Education Research is to conduct excellent scientific research and to put the results of this research at the services of (and make usable for) educational practice and educational policy. TIER wants to develop knowledge of 'evidence based education' that can be made use of by: 1) the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science in policy preparation and evaluation; 2) the educational practice - such as educational institutions - in the allocation of means and in decision making when choosing between educational theories; 3) parents and students when choosing a school or training.
Within each area of attention several themes are to be distinguished. The four areas of attention cover the whole field of lifelong learning, i.e. from pre-schooling, primary, secondary, higher education and professional training to further schooling and education.
The areas of attention are connected to the existing educational order on the level of legislation, the giving of rules, the administrative and financial relations between government and educational institutions, educators and educated, as well as on the level of the didactics and organization of the education within institutions.
TIER was founded as an inter-university scientific research institute with partners at Maastricht University, University of Amsterdam and University of Groningen. Between 2008 and 2014 all three universities were involved in TIER-research and collaborated with one another. After the initial funds had ended, TIER Maastricht further developed as the main TIER department, still with close tiers to the University of Amsterdam and with a new partner: the institute LEER at Leuven University.
Institutes with a comparable focal point as TIER are to be found in the Anglo-Saxon world. The CEM Centre in the UK and the WWC (What Works Clearinghouse) in the United States are to be named. With these institutions will be cooperated. There is also intensive contact with Colombia University in the US, where similar research is conducted on the cost effectiveness of education, and educational evaluations are carried out. With the John Hopkins University in Baltimore there is exchange on the use of Randomized Controlled Controls when evaluating educational interventions. Other relevant foreign contacts are: the Centre for Economics of Education (CEE) in London, the Education Research Section in Princeton and the European Expert Network of Economics of Education (EENEE).
'Evidence based education' is the philosophy that educational policy and educational practice are to be based on the best evidence of 'what works'. This means that specific educational interventions, educational strategies and educational policies are to be evaluated scientifically before they are recommended or adopted on a large scale. Where this has not happened yet, these interventions are to be introduced on an experimental basis in such a way that the effects of the interventions can be evaluated scientifically. On the one hand 'evidence based education' refers to the collection of positively evaluated interventions, on the other hand it refers to the comportment or attitude of policy makers and people from the educational practice (working on the basis of 'evidence based education').