The mandated function of the Independent Review Panel (IRP) for the National Assessment of Title I is to advise on methodological and other issues that arise in carrying out the assessment. The IRP is to ensure that the assessment and studies adhere to the highest possible standards of quality with respect to research design, statistical analysis, and the dissemination of findings; and that the studies use valid and reliable measures to document program implementation and impacts. The IRP was appointed in November 2002 and is made up of researchers, education practitioners, parents, and members of other organizations involved with the implementation and operation of programs under Title I. A list of current IRP members and their affiliations is included in Appendix A.
The IRP first met in January 2003 and has been instrumental in shaping the direction of implementation and effectiveness studies under the National Assessment of Title I. At this meeting, the IRP noted that an evaluation of the impact of Title I funds on student achievement was not feasible because it would require random assignment of Title I funds to eligible districts and schools. Past evaluations of activities supported by Title I have provided little information on how to improve student achievement. The IRP recommended that Title I effectiveness studies focus on "what works" evaluations of well-defined interventions for improving achievement of high-poverty students in the critical areas of reading and mathematics. These evaluations would provide information on the effectiveness of specific interventions that could be adopted by schools to improve academic achievement. Additional information on IRP recommendations for effectiveness studies is included under "Future Reports" in Chapter III of this document.
The IRP has also provided essential advice on the conduct of implementation studies. At its first meeting, the panel agreed that the mandated national longitudinal study of Title I schools should be launched as soon as possible, and most members advised that it should focus on program implementation rather than the impact of federal funds for reasons described above. The IRP recommended that the National Longitudinal Study of No Child Left Behind include a survey of parents concerning the Title I school choice and supplemental educational services options in the law.
The IRP has met eight times over the past three years. Several meetings were held in the first year after the panel's appointment in November 2002: January 30-31, 2003; March 17-18, 2003; September 22, 2003; and November 9, 2003. There were also IRP meetings on November 21, 2004, on July 29, 2005, and on June 14-15 and October 15-16, 2006. The IRP has provided valuable advice on the design and implementation of the Title I studies as well as extensive comments on reports from the National Assessment.