Evaluation Studies of the National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance
A New Generation of Rigorous Evaluations
Knowing which programs are effective and ineffective provides concrete guidance for school superintendents, principals, and teachers who need information to make sound decisions that will improve instruction and raise student achievement. NCEE's evaluation division designs evaluation studies to produce rigorous scientific evidence on the effectiveness of education programs and practices. In particular, the NCEE focuses on conducting rigorous impact studies of promising educational programs and practices that are supported through federal funds.
The evaluation studies that are supported by the NCEE use methodologies that can provide scientific evidence to answer questions of effectiveness. Evaluations funded by the Center answers one of three questions:
- What is the impact of the federal program on the intended outcomes? This question examines whether the federal funds have had a significant impact on key outcomes such as student achievement. Evaluation studies that address this question compare the student outcomes of schools receiving federal funds versus those who are not receiving federal funds.
- Is the program model effective? Several of the Department's programs support specific program models such as charter schools, family literacy, or after-school programs. For this question, the evaluation study addresses the impact of this program model in the diverse array of conditions and settings under which the model is implemented.
- Is a specific intervention (or class of interventions) effective? For some of the Department's largest programs in elementary and secondary education, state and local education agencies have the flexibility to use federal funds to support the educational intervention(s) that they believe will improve student achievement. In many cases, several states and districts have adopted a specific intervention (e.g., Success for All). For this question, the evaluation study assesses the effectiveness of a particular intervention (or class of interventions) that has been widely adopted or is viewed as promising.
To date, NCEE has launched over 30 studies using evaluation designs that will produce unbiased estimates of program impact. The evaluations cover a wide range of topics and populations including: early literacy, mathematics; teacher quality; choice; English language learning; educational technology; after- school programs; drug and violence prevention; adult education; and mentoring.