Our Evidence-Based Standard


Our report helps school decision-makers feel confident when choosing an evidence-based program

BrainFutures is the first national organization to bring together notable experts across neuroscience, education, industry, healthcare, and government to develop a rubric for assessing school-based brain fitness interventions. Our aim is to give educational decision-makers access to both objective, scientifically validated analysis of interventions that meet quality standards for children and educators, and clear recommendations to ensure investments are cost effective.

Working with an advisory board of esteemed experts, we culled and reviewed school-based brain fitness interventions that specifically address executive function (EF). The team developed a rubric to classify the most promising EF interventions based on criteria chosen to meet academic and scientific rigor, and to distill a class of programs that would have higher chances of procuring funding under Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) guidelines.

We also interviewed education leaders at the state and local levels to identify which factors they consider when deciding to adopt a classroom-based program. While programs that pull students out of class for brain fitness training exist, and some of our promising programs can be implemented in a 1:1 setting, any featured program from our executive function school-based program report needed to be a classroom-based opportunity. This is because such programs can benefit children with EF deficits the most without stigmatizing them, since all students in a class participate in the intervention together.

“Children with poorer EFs benefit more from training; hence, training might provide them an opportunity to ‘catch up’ with their peers and not be left behind.” 11– Dr. Adel Diamond, Developmental Cognitive Neuroscientist

For our report, we evaluated over 40 programs using the below criteria:


  • Program can be used by students in at least one grade from K-12
  • Program can be implemented as a classroom-based intervention
  • Program has been used by “typically developing” students (i.e., not solely for those with ADHD and/or learning disabilities)
  • Program has research available that studies the specific program, not simply general research about the benefits of the type of intervention

Research & Implementation

  • Program has at least one randomized control trial (RCT) or quasi-experimental study in a peer-reviewed journal with 10+ sample size
  • Program has classroom-based implementation in at least one study
  • Program has executive function outcomes in at least one study
  • Program has typically developing students in at least one study


1Diamond A. (2012). Activities and Programs That Improve Children’s Executive Functions. Current directions in psychological science, 21(5), 335–341. https://doi.org/10.1177/0963721412453722