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

Deadline: January 12, 2016

The Low-Cost Short Duration Evaluation of Education Interventions (Low-Cost Evaluation) grant 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 Low-Cost Evaluation program provides a new opportunity for researchers and practitioners to work together to conduct rigorous evaluation of education agency interventions (broadly defined as education practices, programs, and policies) within a short timeframe and using available data. 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.

Evaluations supported under this program are intended to meet What Works Clearinghouse standards without reservations for determining the effectiveness of interventions. Specifically, applicants must propose either randomized controlled trials (RCTs) or regression discontinuity designs (RDDs).

Low Cost Evaluation projects are expected to disseminate their results within the agency partner and to the practitioner community as well as the academic community. To this end, applicants are required to discuss the dissemination of their findings in their applications. At least one oral briefing and one written brief for education practitioners and policymakers are expected to be completed before the end of the grant.

In addition, applications must meet the following requirements:

Education outcomes: research must address outcomes that fall under two categories:

  1. Student academic outcomes including: 1) 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, math, and science). For postsecondary education, these outcomes apply only to students in developmental and bridge programs; and 2) academic outcomes that reflect students’ successful progression through the education system (e.g., course and grade completion and retention in grade K through 12; high school graduation and dropout; postsecondary enrollment, progress, and completion).
  2. Social and behavioral competencies: social skills, attitudes, and behaviors that may be important to students’ academic and post-academic success.

Authentic education settings: Projects 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). Authentic education settings include both in-school settings 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 state and local education agencies.

Education interventions: These 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: Partnership between research institutions and education agencies are required. Partnerships must include a Principal Investigator (PI) or Co-PI from each organization.

Products: Projects are intended to aid state and local education agencies in making decisions regarding their education interventions. Applicants should describe how they will disseminate their findings and their implications for agency decision-making. This dissemination must include an oral briefing to the education agency and the release of a written brief available free to the public.

Amount: Up to $250,000 will be awarded to four applicants.

Eligibility: At a minimum, applications must include a research institution and a U.S. state or local education agency proposing to work together. Applicants that have the capacity to conduct scientifically valid 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. 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; local education agencies which are primarily public school districts; community college districts; state and city postsecondary systems (if there is a state or city higher education agency that oversees the postsecondary system, they should be included as another agency partner in addition to the postsecondary system). Other partnerships are encouraged such as other state or local agencies (e.g., juvenile justice, social services), community organizations, parent organizations, and teacher and staff organizations.

Link: http://ies.ed.gov/funding/ncer_rfas/ncer_lcsd.asp

Note: A letter of intent is strongly encouraged and due by November 12, 2015.

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