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

Deadline: March 7, 2019

The Low-Cost, Short-Duration Evaluation of Special Education Interventions (Low-Cost Special Education Evaluation) grant program supports rigorous evaluations of interventions that are expected to produce meaningful improvements in education outcomes for infants, toddlers, children, and youth with or at risk for a disability and be completed within two years. The program will be carried out by research institutions and state or local agencies working together as partners. Evaluations will use randomized controlled trials, regression discontinuity designs, or single-case experimental designs to determine the impact of interventions on education outcomes for infants, toddlers, children, and youth, and will rely on administrative data or other sources of secondary data to provide measures of these education outcomes. Low-Cost Evaluation projects are a means to obtain rigorous evidence of impact that state and local agencies can use in making decisions regarding the scaling-up or revision of interventions. Such evidence may help state and local agencies meet their new responsibilities under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in identifying evidence-based school improvement practices. The Institute also expects that Low-Cost Evaluation projects will 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 intended to improve a range of outcomes for children and youth with or at risk for a disability, including infants, toddlers, and children/students in preschool through Grade 12. The Institute is not specifying categories of interventions beyond those that can be evaluated in a short time frame and are important to the state and/or local agency. Note that the costs of interventions and their implementation are to be covered by the state and/or local agency; they will not be covered by this grant program.

Supported evaluations are intended to meet What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) standards without reservations (see WWC Standards Handbook at https://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/Handbooks). Evaluation designs must be either randomized controlled trials (RCTs), regression discontinuity designs (RDDs), or single-case experimental designs (SCDs). Within the first year of the project, the intervention must be implemented and the key 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 partner agency, 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):

  • Students With or At Risk for a Disability: Research must focus on children and youth with or at risk for a disability. Students without disabilities may be included in the sample (e.g., an inclusive classroom) if appropriate for the research questions.
  • Student Education Outcomes: Research must address education outcomes and include measures for these outcomes. The greatest interest is in student outcomes that support success in school and afterwards, including: academic and developmental outcomes, social and behavioral competencies, and functional skills. The Institute also supports research on employment and earnings outcomes when appropriate. See solicitation for a list of specific outcomes for each student age group (e.g., infants and toddlers, preschool students, and K-12 students).
  • Authentic Education Settings: Research must be relevant to education in the U.S. 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., early intervention and early childhood special education settings, preschool or infant/toddler/child care settings, natural settings for special education services, after-school programs, distance learning programs, online programs, alternative schools such as those in juvenile justice settings) and are under the control of state or local agencies.
  • Interventions: Interventions should be of high importance to the state or local agency partner and aimed at improving outcomes for infants, toddlers, children, or youth with or at risk for disabilities. Their implementation should be completed within the first project year.
  • Partnerships: Partnerships are required between research institutions and state or local agencies (i.e., education agencies and other agencies that manage early intervention services) but can also include community agencies and other organizations working with local or state agencies to provide services to children and youth with or at risk for disabilities (see solicitation for more details). The partnerships must include a Principal Investigator (PI) from each organization.
  • Dissemination: Projects are intended to aid agencies in making decisions regarding their interventions as well as to advance scientific knowledge and theory on learning, instruction, and education systems in order to provide solutions to the education problems in our nation. For example, there is 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 up to $250,000 and have a maximum duration of 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 infant and child care, early intervention services, or preschool.
  • Other state or local agencies, including state or local health agencies and state agencies that oversee child care or early intervention services.

Link: https://www.grants.gov/web/grants/view-opportunity.html?oppId=305447

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