In the Innovative Professional Development (iPD) Challenge, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is helping school districts redesign their teacher professional development systems to better support teachers in increasing student success. This Issue Focus introduces the iPD Challenge and presents some early findings from MDRC’s study of it.
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.
Design Options for an Evaluation of Head Start Coaching
Using a study of coaching in Head Start as an example, this report reviews potential experimental design options that get inside the “black box” of social interventions by estimating the effects of individual components. It concludes that factorial designs are usually most appropriate.
This report provides recommendations for an evaluation of coaching that may impact teacher and classroom practices in Head Start and other early childhood settings — including about the research questions; the design of the impact study, implementation research, and cost analysis; and logistical challenges for carrying out the design.
Educational Challenges and MDRC’s Research
MDRC hosted a recent colloquium to celebrate our 40th anniversary and the contributions of former Board Chair Robert Solow. This issue focus summarizes a panel presentation, featuring Frank Levy, Richard J. Murnane, Cecilia E. Rouse, and Ronald F. Ferguson, about current challenges in education and how MDRC’s research can help address them.
MDRC’s Portfolio in Early Childhood Education
Today, leaders from across the political spectrum are calling for new investments in early childhood education. But many important questions remain about how to make the most of the promise of preschool and related interventions. MDRC’s portfolio of research and demonstration projects is tackling some of the biggest ones.
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.