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Institute of Education Sciences: Low-Cost, Short-Duration Evaluation of Education Interventions

Deadline: August 3, 2017

The program is designed to support rigorous evaluations of education interventions that state or local education agencies expect to produce meaningful improvements in student education outcomes within a short period (for example, within a single semester or academic year). The program will be carried out by research institutions and state or local education agencies working together as partners. The evaluations will use randomized controlled trials or regression discontinuity designs to determine the impact of interventions on student education outcomes, and will rely on administrative data or other sources of secondary data to provide measures of these student outcomes.

The Institute views Low-Cost Evaluation projects as a means to obtain rigorous evidence of impact that state and local education agencies can use in making timely decisions regarding the scaling-up or revision of education interventions. Such evidence may help state and local education agencies meet their new responsibilities under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in identifying evidence-based school improvement practices. Through this grant program, the Institute intends to support education agency decision-making on interventions they implement, contribute to a larger evidence base about education effectiveness, and learn more about the value of this type of evaluation and what it can contribute to the field.

Applicants may propose to evaluate interventions for students in prekindergarten, K-12, postsecondary, or adult education. At every level, the Institute is mainly interested in interventions that are expected to improve outcomes for students who are struggling or at risk of failure. The Institute is most interested in student academic outcomes and student social and behavioral competencies that support success in school and afterwards. The Institute supports research on a diverse set of student academic outcomes that fall under two categories. The first category includes academic outcomes that reflect learning and achievement in the core academic content areas (e.g., measures of understanding and achievement in pre-reading, reading, pre-writing, writing, English language proficiency, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). For postsecondary education, these outcomes apply only to students in developmental courses and bridge programs (e.g., summer programs between high school and college). The second category includes academic outcomes that reflect students’ successful progression through the education system (e.g., course and grade completion and retention in grades K through 12; high school graduation and dropout; postsecondary and adult education enrollment, progress, and completion). Social and behavioral competencies encompass a range of student social skills, attitudes, and behaviors (e.g., attendance and tardiness rates, disciplinary actions) that may be important to students’ academic and post-academic success.

Proposed research must be relevant to education in the United States and must address factors under the control of the U.S. education system (state or local). To help ensure such relevance, the Institute requires researchers to work within or with data from authentic education settings.

To ensure that findings from the Low-Cost Evaluation program are shared with all interested audiences, the Institute also requires all applicants to present a plan to disseminate project findings.

Amount: Grants of up to $250,000 will be made for a period of up to two years.

Eligibility: At a minimum, applications must include a research institution and a U.S. state or local education agency proposing to work together in partnership. Applicants that have the ability and capacity to conduct scientific research are eligible to apply as the research institution partner(s). These include, but are not limited to, non-profit and for-profit organizations and public and private agencies and institutions, such as colleges and universities, and research firms.

The U.S. education agency partners may include:

  • State education agencies such as education agencies, departments, boards and commissions that oversee early learning, elementary, secondary, postsecondary, and/or adult education. The term state education agencies includes U.S. territories’ education agencies and tribal education agencies.
  • Local education agencies which are primarily public school districts and may also include county or city agencies that have primary responsibility for prekindergarten or adult education.
  • Community college districts.
  • State and city postsecondary systems

The Institute encourages partnerships to include other organizations that can contribute to the successful outcome of the work such as other state or local agencies (e.g., juvenile justice, social services), community organizations, parent organizations, and teacher and staff organizations.

Link: https://ies.ed.gov/funding/

Note: Letters of Intent to apply are strongly encouraged and due by June 22, 2017.

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