Using Rigorous Designs to Determine wHether Programs work

Why Random Assignment?


Ever since its founding 40 years ago, MDRC has been known for its use of randomized controlled trials to measure the effects of social and educational policy initiatives. Widely accepted as the “gold standard” of evaluation designs, a randomized controlled trial yields the most robust and credible estimates of a program’s effects because it makes it possible to determine  counterfactual outcomes – that is, what would have happened in the absence of the program?

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Understanding How and Why Programs Work      

Integrating Implementation and Impact Research


While it’s critically important to find out whether a program or policy is making a difference, that knowledge is not enough. Understanding how and why programs work (or don’t work) is ultimately what policymakers and practitioners want to know. MDRC has been a leader in using high-quality implementation research — both quantitative and qualitative — to understand impact findings. 

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Leading the Field In Refining Methods

Cluster Random Assignment


If random assignment is the “gold standard” of program evaluation, what does a researcher do when the focus of an intervention is a group, rather than individuals — making assignment of individual participants to program and control groups impossible? For example, the groups may be organizations, like schools or hospitals or businesses, or they may be geographically defined, like neighborhoods or even cities.

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