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U.S. Department of Education: Low-Cost, Short-Duration Evaluation of Education Interventions

Deadline: March 7, 2019

The Low-Cost, Short-Duration Evaluation of Education Interventions (Low-Cost Evaluation) grant program will 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). These evaluations are to be conducted for $250,000 or less and completed within two years. 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.

Low-Cost Evaluation projects are a means to obtain rigorous evidence of impact that state and local education agencies can use in making 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. Low-Cost Evaluation projects are expected to contribute to a larger evidence base about education effectiveness and demonstrate the feasibility and value of this type of evaluation.

Applicants may propose to evaluate interventions for students in prekindergarten, K-12, postsecondary, or adult education. At every level, the main interest is in interventions that are expected to improve outcomes for students who are struggling or at risk of failure. Note that the costs of interventions and their implementation are to be covered by the state and/or local education agency; they will not be covered by this grant program.

Supported evaluations are intended to meet What Works Clearinghouse standards without reservations (see WWC Standards Handbook at https://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/Handbooks). Evaluation designs must be either randomized controlled trials (RCTs) or regression discontinuity designs (RDDs). Within the first year of the project, the intervention must be implemented and the key student education outcomes should be obtained through administrative data systems or other secondary data sources. Project researchers should acquire the data no later than the first quarter of the second year. In the remainder of the second year, project researchers should complete the analysis, provide results to their agency partner, and begin broader dissemination. Because of this schedule, Low-Cost Evaluation projects should not evaluate interventions that extend beyond one academic year or that rely on outcome measures that are not readily available.

Applications must meet specific requirements for the following subheadings (see solicitation for more details):

  • Student education outcomes: Research must address student education outcomes, including measures of student academic outcomes. The Institute also supports research on student social and behavioral competencies that support success in school and afterwards and employment and earnings outcomes when appropriate.
  • Authentic education settings: 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). Researchers must work within or with data from authentic education settings. For prekindergarten through postsecondary education, authentic education settings include both in-school settings (including prekindergarten centers) and formal programs that take place after school or out of school (e.g., after-school programs, distance learning programs, online programs) under the control of schools, state education agencies (SEAs), and/or local education agencies (LEAs). For postsecondary education, authentic education settings include 2-year and 4-year colleges and universities, and career and technical education centers that have education programs leading to occupational certificates, associate’s degrees, and/or bachelor’s degrees. For adult education, authentic education settings include those where eligible providers offer one or more of the following: Adult Basic Education (ABE), Adult Secondary Education (ASE), Adult English language acquisition programs, and programs that integrate adult literacy with education in other areas (e.g., family literacy, civics education, occupational training).
  • Educational interventions: Proposed interventions should be of high importance to the education agency partner and aimed at improving student education outcomes. Their implementation should be completed within the first project year.
  • Partnerships: Proposed programs must have partnerships between research institutions and state or local education agencies. The partnerships must include a Principal Investigator (PI) from each organization.
  • Dissemination: Results are expected to be available to a wide range of audiences. For example, the Institute has a public access policy (see https://ies.ed.gov/funding/researchaccess.asp) that requires all grantees to submit their peer-reviewed scholarly publications to the ERIC (Education Resources Information Center) and that requires grantees to share final research data from causal inference studies no later than the time of publication in a peer-reviewed scholarly publication.

Amount: Grants range from $50,000-$250,000 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, nonprofit and for-profit organizations and public and private agencies and institutions, such as colleges, 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://www.grants.gov/web/grants/view-opportunity.html?oppId=305419

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