Funding Opportunities | Education Research Grant Programs

Program Announcement: Continuous Improvement in Education Research CFDA 84.305H

Program Officer:
Dr. James Benson
Telephone: (202) 245-8333

The Continuous Improvement Research in Education (Continuous Improvement) topic supports well-established partnerships between research institutions and state or local education agencies to address a specific education issue or problem that is of high importance to the education agency and has important implications for student education outcomes. The partnerships are to have worked together for at least one year. They are to implement, adapt, and revise an approach to addressing an education issue or solving an education problem.

The Institute recognizes that agencies must tailor their approaches to fit specific contexts. Continuous Improvement projects afford education agencies the opportunity to employ systematic strategies for revising and adapting approaches to address issues and problems of high importance so that they function optimally within local education systems to meet student needs. By collaborating with researchers, the Institute hopes that the education agency will increase its capacity to carry out research, development, and implementation. In addition to helping state and local education agencies address self-identified education issues within their specific environments, the Institute seeks to learn broader lessons about how policies, programs, interventions or practices can be adapted to address both local conditions and the difficulties that are faced during wide implementation. While these difficulties may differ by approach or student outcome, the Institute expects that projects under the Continuous Improvement topic will contribute to both general and problem-specific knowledge regarding successful implementation.

In Continuous Improvement projects, partnerships propose to use an existing approach (or approaches) that has a compelling theoretical and/or empirical rationale for improving student outcomes. The partnership will adapt and revise the approach by applying a continuous improvement strategy in order to improve implementation, intermediate outcomes, and student education outcomes. As part of the improvement process, the partnership will identify and implement systemic changes that need to be made in support of the success of the approach.

The approach your partnership proposes to implement can fall along a continuum that runs from a single intervention to a set of related policies, programs, interventions, and practices designed to address a problem or issue. The key requirement is that you propose an approach that has a compelling logic or underlying theory and that has evidence of improving student education outcomes. The Institute expects that the proposed approach may change substantially over the project as you adapt it to local conditions, but you should have something concrete that can be implemented early in the first year of the project.

The Institute recognizes that different methods are used for conducting continuous improvement research and does not require or endorse any specific method. However, the Institute recognizes that there are major themes running through the improvement literature and recommends that you address these when describing your method: implementation in the local context; relatively rapid changes in implementation, addressing organizational structures and processes and their relation to innovation; and reforming the system in which the approach is being implemented.

Projects under the Continuous Improvement topic will result in the following:

  • A description of the partnership as it developed over the course of the grant.

  • A description of the approach in use by the end of the project.

  • A description of the process of continuous improvement used to adapt/revise the approach and the measures used in that process.

  • Results from an ongoing comparison of student outcomes (along with school, classroom, and teacher outcomes as appropriate) in sites (e.g., schools/classrooms) where the approach is being adapted and revised, compared to sites that are not trying to implement the approach.

  • Recommendations for how the partnership could be maintained over the longer term.

  • Specific and general lessons from the revisions to the approach and changes made in the education system that improved the approach and its implementation.

  • Lessons learned from the joint development work performed by the partnership that could benefit other partnerships.