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Evaluation Studies of the National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance

Evaluation of Investing in Innovation (i3)

Contractor: Abt Associates, Inc.

Background/Research Questions

The Investing in Innovation (i3) Fund provides grants to entities with a record of improving student achievement (local educational agencies (LEAs) and nonprofits in partnership with LEAs or a consortium of schools) in order to expand the implementation of, and investment in, evidence-based practices, strategies, and programs to significantly improve student achievement or student growth, as well as to help close achievement gaps, decrease dropout rates, increase high school graduation rates, and increase college enrollment and completion rates.

The i3 program supports three types of grants that are differentiated by level of prior evidence supporting the intervention, the scope of the proposed scale up, and the level of funding to be provided. Scale-up and Validation grants require prior evidence of effectiveness, while Development grants support innovative strategies.

Grantees receiving funds under this program are required to conduct an independent evaluation of their project and must agree, along with their independent evaluator, to cooperate with evaluation technical assistance provided by the Department and its contractor. The purpose of this technical assistance is to maximize the strength of the impact studies and the quality of their implementation data and performance feedback.

The key questions that the contract will address are:

  • To what extent are the i3 independent local evaluations well-designed and well-implemented?
  • What are the results of the i3 implementation and impact evaluations?

Design:

The contractor provides regular, proactive technical assistance to all i3 independent local evaluators. The technical assistance is facilitated by a one-on-one relationship with a technical assistance provider.

In addition to providing technical assistance, the contractor will characterize whether or not the evaluations meet the standards for a well-designed and well-implemented study and provide a report for the program office each year about the number of grantees meeting the i3 evaluation-related GPRA measures. The contractor will also summarize the results of the i3 evaluations.

Cost/Duration: Contract for FY 2010 and FY 2011 grantees: $13,630,826 over 122 months (September 2010–December 2020)
Contract for FY 2012 grantees: $3,351,317 over 6 years (December 2012–December 2018)
Contract for FY 2013 grantees: $4,523,502 over 74 months (December 2013–February 2020)
Contract for FY 2014-FY 2016 grantees: $6,522,063 over 7 years (December 2014–December 2021)

Current Status

The contractor is providing technical assistance to all five active cohorts and the FY 2010 grantees that received extensions to continue evaluation activities. Annual data collection on the independent evaluations began in 2015. The first report is expected in 2017 and will focus primarily on findings for the first cohort (FY 2010).