The Every Student Succeeds Act gives states greater responsibility for choosing strategies to improve underperforming schools. For over a decade, MDRC has rigorously evaluated school improvement strategies, collecting evidence that can help states determine which strategies are likely to work. This Issue Focus describes four of MDRC’s most recent studies.
The Importance of Evidence
In this essay, adapted from remarks made to the Growth Philanthropy Network/Social Impact Exchange 2014 Conference on Scaling Impact, MDRC President Gordon Berlin explains why developing reliable evidence of effectiveness is critical when expanding programs to a large scale.
Using an alternative to classical statistics, this paper reanalyzes results from three published studies of interventions to increase employment and reduce welfare dependency. The analysis formally incorporates prior beliefs about the interventions, characterizing the results in terms of the distribution of possible effects, and generally confirms the earlier published findings.
This paper illustrates how to design an experimental sample for measuring the effects of educational programs when whole schools are randomized to a program and control group. It addresses such issues as what number of schools should be randomized, how many students per school are needed, and what is the best mix of program and control schools.