Dr. James Benson
For FY 2014, the Institute created the Continuous Improvement Research in Education topic as the second topic within the Partnerships and Collaborations Focused on Problems of Practice or Policy program (84.305H).
Under the Continuous Improvement Research in Education (Continuous Improvement) topic, the Institute will support well-established partnerships among research institutions and State or local education agencies to address a specific education issue or problem of high importance to the education agency. The partnership will select an existing approach (or approaches) to the issue/problem that has some promise of evidence for improving student outcomes. The partnership will adapt and revise the approach by applying continuous improvement strategies in order to improve implementation, intermediate outcomes, and student outcomes. In addition, the partnership will identify and implement systemic changes that may need to be made in support of the success of the approach.
The approach to be implement can fall along a continuum that runs from a single intervention to a set of related strategies designed to address a problem or issue. The approach should have a compelling logic or underlying theory and some evidence of promise or efficacy. Support will not be provided for the development of totally new approaches (this type of work is supported under the Development and Innovation goal of the Education Research Grants program: 84.305A).
The Institute is very interested in projects that address three education issues: (1) school safety: (2) social skills, attitudes, and behaviors (sometimes called social-psychological, social-emotional, or psychological/behavioral skills) that contribute to student academic success: and (3) and implementation of the Common Core State Standards in English and mathematics. However, applications proposing research on other education issues will not be penalized in the review and selection process.
In addition to helping State and local education agencies address self-identified education issues, the Institute seeks to learn broader lessons about how approaches 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 topic-specific knowledge regarding successful implementation.
Under the Continuous Improvement topic, the Institute does not require the project to examine the causal evidence of the impact of the approach, but it does require the project to look for evidence of the promise of the approach to have the hypothesized impact. Specifically, by the end of a Continuous Improvement project, the Institute expects the grantee to provide the following: