DIR, through an ED-IES contract, supported the development of a new video series explaining how schools, districts, states, and their research partners can use a cost-effective approach, known as “opportunistic experiments,” to test the effectiveness of programs.

DIR is pleased to announce that today (November 28, 2016) the REL Program released a new video series on “How to Learn What’s Working in Your Setting”. This video series was developed by DIR’s partner, Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., funded through our Analytic Technical Assistance and Development (ATA&D) contract with the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) in the U.S. Department of Education. DIR, with Dr. Russell Jackson, DIR’s president and CEO as project director, leads the team providing support to Regional Educational Labs and other National Center for Education Evaluation (NCEE) contractors for IES. The IES Newsflash, announcing release of this new video series, is available below. The video series may be found on the IES Research Methods YouTube Channel using the following links:

1. Embedding Evaluations in Everyday Activities
2. Why Use Experiments to Evaluate Programs?
3. Recognizing Opportunities for Rigorous Evaluation

 

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New Video Series from the REL Program on How to Learn What’s Working in Your Setting

The Regional Educational Laboratories Program has released a new video series that explains how schools, districts, states, and their research partners can use a cost-effective approach, known as “opportunistic experiments,” to test the effectiveness of programs. Under the right circumstances, this type of research study can generate evidence for informing your education decisions.

What is an Opportunistic Experiment? An opportunity to randomly assign participants to an intervention when one or more of the following conditions exist:
• Excess demand (for example, over-enrollment in a district program or school)
• Limited resources (for example, a lack of resources to implement a new program in all schools at once)
• Pilot tests (for example, a need to test a new program at a few schools before using it in all schools)

There are four videos in the series:
1. Embedding Evaluations in Everyday Activities (1 minute) – This introductory video gives an overview of the video series.
2. Why Use Experiments to Evaluate Programs? (6 minutes) – Describes why you might want to use experiments to evaluate your programs and policies. It shows why experiments are valuable tools for learning what works.
3. Recognizing Opportunities for Rigorous Evaluation (8 minutes) – Describes key characteristics of opportunistic experiments and provides examples and suggestions of situations where you may be able to conduct such experiments.
4. Addressing Challenges and Concerns about Opportunistic Experiments (coming soon!) – Will outline considerations that may reduce concerns about using experiments to learn what works.

For More Information: This video series is based on two guides to opportunistic experiments—a guide designed for district and school leaders and a guide designed for researchers.

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The Regional Educational Laboratories (RELs) build the capacity of educators to use data and research to improve student outcomes. Each REL responds to needs identified in its region and makes learning opportunities and other resources available to educators throughout the United States. The REL program is a part of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) in the U.S. Department of Education. To receive regular updates on REL work, including events and reports, follow IES on Facebook and Twitter. To provide feedback on this or other REL work, email Contact.IES@ed.gov

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The Institute of Education Sciences, a part of the U.S. Department of Education, is the nation’s leading source for rigorous, independent education research, evaluation and statistics.

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