Educators must often adapt interventions over time because what works for one student may not work for another and what works now for one student may not work in the future for the same student. Adaptive interventions provide education practitioners with a prespecified, systematic, and replicable way of doing this through a sequence of decision rules for whether, how, and when to modify interventions. The sequential, multiple assignment, randomized trial (SMART) is one type of multistage, experimental design that can help education researchers build high-quality adaptive interventions.
Despite the critical role adaptive interventions can play in various domains of education, research about adaptive interventions and the use of SMART designs to develop effective adaptive interventions in education is in its infancy. To help the field move forward in this area, the National Center for Special Education Research (NCSER) and the National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance (NCEE) commissioned a paper by leading experts in adaptive interventions and SMART designs. This paper aims to provide information on building and evaluating high-quality adaptive interventions and review the components of SMART designs, discuss the key features of the SMART, and introduce common research questions for which SMARTs may be appropriate.