This paper provides a detailed discussion of the theory and practice of modern regression discontinuity. It describes how regression discontinuity analysis can provide valid and reliable estimates of general causal effects and of the specific effects of a particular treatment on outcomes for particular persons or groups.
This paper provides practical guidance for researchers who are designing studies that randomize groups to measure the impacts of educational interventions.
Lessons for Practitioners
This 12-page brief distills practical implementation lessons from four programs that help low-wage workers access and retain child care subsidies, public health insurance, the Earned Income Tax Credit, food stamps, and other related government benefits.
An Introduction to the Performance-Based Scholarship Demonstration
This policy brief describes a demonstration launched by MDRC in four states in 2008 to evaluate whether performance-based scholarships — paid contingent on attaining academic benchmarks — are an effective way to improve persistence and academic success among low-income college students. The demonstration builds on positive results from an earlier MDRC study in Louisiana.
What We Know, What We Don’t, and What’s Next
Studies of Reading First released in 2008 found no overall effect on student reading comprehension, and the program was eliminated in 2009. However, the research findings were more nuanced than was widely reported, and they offer lessons for policymakers making critical choices today about how the federal government can best support the teaching of reading to young children.
Empirical Guidance for Studies That Randomize Schools to Measure the Impacts of Educational Interventions
This paper examines how controlling statistically for baseline covariates (especially pretests) improves the precision of studies that randomize schools to measure the impacts of educational interventions on student achievement.
The Role of Informal Care in the Lives of Low-Income Women and Children
Drawing on ethnographic interviews, this policy brief describes the patchwork child care arrangements made by low-income parents and discusses implications for policies that would promote the dual objectives of child well-being and parental employment.
This paper illustrates how to design an experimental sample for measuring the effects of educational programs when whole schools are randomized to a program and control group. It addresses such issues as what number of schools should be randomized, how many students per school are needed, and what is the best mix of program and control schools.