An earlier post in this series discussed considerations for reporting and interpreting cross-site impact variation and for designing studies to investigate such cross-site variation. This post discusses how those ideas were applied to address two broad questions in the Mother and Infant Home Visiting Program Evaluation.
Part I of this two-part post discussed MDRC’s work with practitioners to construct valid and reliable measures of implementation fidelity to an early childhood curriculum. Part II examines how those data can reveal associations between levels of fidelity and gains in children’s academic skills.
Lessons from the Grameen America Evaluation
In any study, there is a tension between research and program needs. This program’s group-based microloan model presented particular challenges for random assignment. Reflections in Methodology looks at how the research design was adapted to allow a fair test of the program’s effectiveness without hampering its ability to operate.
As an alternative to random assignment, a regression discontinuity design takes advantage of situations where program eligibility is determined by whether a score exceeds a threshold. With careful attention to assumptions, analysis, and interpretation, this quasi-experimental design can provide rigorous estimates of program effects. Reflections on Methodology outlines some considerations.
Schools use individual screening tests to identify students at risk of falling behind in their reading levels. Could predictive analytics, incorporating multiple composite and subsection scores from a series of tests over time, do a better job of identifying at-risk students? Reflections on Methodology gives an example of this approach.
Lessons from the Grameen America Formative Evaluation
Random assignment is prized for its rigor, but it’s not always feasible to carry out. This Reflections in Methodology post outlines other strong options for studying the effects of a program and illustrates the application of some key considerations in a specific context.
This paper explores the use of instrumental variables analysis with a multisite randomized trial to estimate the effect of a mediating variable on an outcome.
Despite the growing popularity of the use of regression discontinuity analysis, there is only a limited amount of accessible information to guide researchers in the implementation of this research design. This paper provides an overview of the approach and, in easy-to-understand language, offers best practices and general guidance for practitioners.
Using an alternative to classical statistics, this paper reanalyzes results from three published studies of interventions to increase employment and reduce welfare dependency. The analysis formally incorporates prior beliefs about the interventions, characterizing the results in terms of the distribution of possible effects, and generally confirms the earlier published findings.
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.