Kimberley Sprague, Ed.M.
The Low-Cost, Short-Duration Evaluation of Special Education Interventions (Low-Cost Evaluation) grant program is designed to support rigorous evaluations of special education interventions (broadly defined as practices, programs, and policies) that state or local education agencies expect to produce meaningful improvements in education outcomes for infants, toddlers, children, and youth with or at risk for disability within a short period (for example, within a single semester or academic year). These evaluations are to be conducted for $250,000 or less and completed within 2 years. The program will be carried out by research institutions and state or local education agencies working together as partners. The evaluations will use randomized controlled trials, regression discontinuity designs, or single-case experimental designs to determine the impact of special education interventions on child/student education outcomes. These evaluations will rely on administrative data or other sources of secondary data to provide measures of student outcomes. Evaluation results are to be disseminated throughout the education agency and to the public before the end of the grant.
Applicants may propose to evaluate interventions intended to improve a range of outcomes for children with or at risk for disability, including infants, toddlers, and children/students in preschool through Grade 12. The Institute is not specifying categories of interventions beyond those that can be evaluated prospectively, in a timely fashion, and are of high importance to the education agency. Note that the costs of interventions and their implementation are to be covered by the state and/or local education agency; they will not be covered by this grant program.
The Institute views Low-Cost Evaluation projects as a means to obtain rigorous evidence of impact that state and district education agencies can use in making timely decisions regarding the scaling up or revision of special education interventions. The Institute recognizes Low-Cost Evaluation projects are to fill a specific niche in the evaluation process and are not applicable to all types of interventions (e.g., multi-year interventions), situations (e.g., where the necessary data is not available from a secondary source), or other priority research needs (e.g., collecting implementation data on a program/intervention rather than on its impact). Through this grant program, the Institute intends to support education agency decision making on specific interventions and to learn more about the value of this type of evaluation.