New Evidence on What Works in Education

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Abt Associates releases evaluation report from the $1.3 billion Investing in Innovation Education program

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Abt’s i3 evaluation helps ensure the government’s investment in educational interventions generates high-quality evidence to inform education policy decisions and show what works in education.

What works in education? Tiered evidence is a route to identifying a broader set of proven and effective interventions for educators. Between 2010 and 2016, the Investing in Innovation (i3) Fund made awards to local educational agencies and nonprofit organizations to incentivize and create strong evidence on promising strategies in education. A new report by Abt Associates for the Institute of Education Sciences at the U.S. Department of Education offers a summary of findings across i3 grantees.

Tiered Evidence: Good Stewardship of Limited Resources for Greater Impact

The report summarizes the findings from the 67 i3 evaluations that were completed by May 2017. These evaluated programs represent a variety of educational interventions for children in grades K – 12.

Recognizing that sound evidence to inform education policies and decision-making is difficult to obtain, the U.S. Department of Education awarded more than $1 billion to grantees to scale-up, validate, or develop evidence-based education programs. Funding for each level of grant was based on prior evidence, as results suggested which programs might be ready for further scale-up.

To maximize the investment, each grantee was required to fund an independent evaluation to document the implementation and outcomes of the projects. Abt led this evaluation project and also provided one-on-one technical assistance to all i3 evaluators. The new report highlights the extent to which the program met its goal of contributing to the evidence base on effective educational interventions.

Highlights from the Summary Report Include:

  • Overall, the i3 program successfully incentivized and supported grantees to conduct strong implementation and impact evaluations and build evidence for the field.
  • The i3 program produced a body of evidence on whether or not a range of interventions were effective at improving student outcomes.
  • i3 funded four interventions with strong prior evidence to try aggressive scaling—three of four met their scaling goals and two showed positive findings.
  • i3 funded 15 interventions with some prior evidence to test the effectiveness of the intervention at a broader scale—six showed positive findings that make them potentially ready for wider scaling.
  • i3 funded 48 untested interventions to produce initial rigorous evidence—four produced positive findings that make them potentially ready for further development and evaluation.

“Abt’s i3 evaluation helps ensure the government’s investment in educational interventions generates high-quality evidence to inform education policy decisions and show what works in education,” said Mary Joel Holin, Abt division vice president, social and economic policy. “The i3 evaluation also boosted the field’s capacity to design and conduct rigorous education research.”

View a copy of the full report at https://ies.ed.gov/ncee/pubs/20184013/.

About Abt Associates
Abt Associates is an engine for social impact, dedicated to moving people from vulnerability to security. Harnessing the power of data and our experts’ grounded insights, we provide research, consulting and technical services globally in the areas of health, environmental and social policy, technology and international development. http://www.abtassociates.com

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