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Low-Cost, Short-Duration Evaluation of Education Interventions


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FY Awards

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Dr. Allen Ruby
(202) 245-8145


The Low-Cost, Short-Duration Evaluation of Education Interventions (Low-Cost Evaluation) grant program (ALS 84.305L) was competed from FY 2016 – FY 2018. It was designed to support rigorous evaluations of education interventions (broadly defined as practices, programs, and policies) that state or local education agencies expect to produce meaningful improvements in student education outcomes within a short period (for example, within a single semester or academic year). These evaluations were to be conducted for $250,000 or less and completed within 2 years. The program was carried out by research institutions and state or local education agencies working together as partners. The evaluations used randomized controlled trials or regression discontinuity designs to determine the impact of interventions on student education outcomes and relied on administrative data or other sources of secondary data to provide measures of these student outcomes. Evaluation results were to be disseminated to the education agency and the public before the end of the grant.

Applicants proposed to evaluate interventions for students in prekindergarten, primary and secondary, postsecondary, or adult education. IES was mainly interested in interventions expected to improve outcomes for students who were struggling or at risk of failure. IES did not specify categories of interventions beyond that an intervention was implemented by a state or local education agency and of high importance to that agency, and that the intervention could be evaluated in a timely fashion. The costs of interventions and their implementation were to be covered by the state and/or local education agency. They were not covered by this grant program.

Low-Cost Evaluation projects filled a specific niche in the evaluation process and were not applicable to all types of interventions (e.g., multi-year interventions) or situations (e.g., where the necessary data was not available from a secondary source). Through this grant program, IES intended to support better education agency decision making on specific interventions and to learn more about the value of this type of evaluation and what it can and cannot accomplish.