Research builds evidence about what works. SEDL conducts rigorous research studies to assess to what degree education policies, programs, and practices are effective and under what conditions. We then translate the findings into strategies and tools that educators can use in a variety of situations. Through this work, we strive to advance evidence and enable educators and policymakers to make informed decisions regarding significant problems in education.
Our specializations include the following:
- Randomized controlled trials
- Large-scale data collection
- Implementation science
- Core and supplemental reading and math curricula
Better Methods for Learning What Works
of the effectiveness of two longstanding and popular programs.” — Michael Vaden-Kiernan, Director of Research and Evaluation, SEDL
Which reading program should we adopt? Which math program will raise student achievement? Research can point the way. However, randomized controlled trials (RCTs), the gold standard in research, can be difficult to conduct in school settings and limited in their findings. Researchers at SEDL and the University of Wisconsin-Madison are using innovative methods to overcome these hurdles. The team is conducting national RCTs of two elementary school programs: McGraw-Hill Education’s Everyday Mathematics® and SRA Imagine It! Today's Open Court. The effectiveness studies are evaluating how the programs affect student achievement over 2 school years. Our researchers partnered with a range of experts to develop an innovative study design that aligns the two RCTs and combines their samples, enhancing the ability of the studies to detect effects under real conditions. A complementary implementation study will enable researchers to explain how teachers adopt core curricula and how fidelity to the programs may affect results.
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Everyday Mathematics® and SRA Imagine It! Today's Open Court Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT): SEDL and the University of Wisconsin-Madison are conducting a national, large-scale randomized controlled trial assessing the effectiveness of McGraw-Hill Education’s Everyday Mathematics and SRA Imagine It! Today's Open Court, a math and a reading program for elementary school. The study, which will involve more than 40 schools across multiple districts, uses a multisite cluster randomized trial design to examine whether the programs affect achievement outcomes for K–5 students over 2 school years and whether those outcomes vary significantly across students, schools, and districts.
Louisiana Striving Readers RCT: SEDL, in partnership with the Louisiana Department of Education, conducted a 1-year randomized controlled trial of the Voyager Passport Reading Journeys supplemental program for struggling adolescents readers. The study involved 10 middle schools in 4 parishes and assessed whether students using the program demonstrated greater gains in reading outcomes and under what conditions.
Madison Parish Early Reading First: Funded by the U.S. Department of Education, this 3-year project evaluated the implementation and impact of the Bright Futures Early Reading First project on outcomes for children, teachers, classrooms, and families in Madison Parish, Louisiana. The literacy intervention included implementing DLM: Early Childhood Express and Open Court Reading preK curriculum and involved more than 250 3- and 4-year-old children in almost 20 classrooms in the Madison Parish Public Schools PreK Program and the Delta Community Action Association Head Start. SEDL conducted a quasi-experimental study design to measure and analyze gains in children's reading outcomes, teacher literacy knowledge, classroom quality, and parental involvement. Significant gains were found for children’s receptive vocabulary, letter recognition, and print awareness skills, and instructors showed significant increases in their knowledge of literacy and language instruction.
National Partnership for Quality Afterschool Learning RCTs: SEDL's National Partnership for Quality Afterschool Learning oversaw three randomized controlled trials that evaluated the benefits of promising afterschool interventions on student achievement. The 2-year studies assessed the impacts of READ 180, Voyager, and Success for All curricula in large-scale field trials involving a single school district, several regional districts, and a statewide sample of students attending afterschool programs. SEDL provided reviews and assistance with grantees' study designs, evaluation plans, RCT procedures, and analytic plans.
Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Survey Design: Funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, this multiyear project involved developing a national study design to gather periodic information on the Migrant and Seasonal Head Start (MSHS) programs and participating families. The project was led by the CDM Group, Inc., and partners included Abt Associates, Inc.; the National Center for Latino Child and Family Research; Social Dynamics, LLC; and the Catholic University of America. SEDL had a staff person on the design team, which selected appropriate measures and developed plans for MSHS sampling, worked closely with the MSHS programs, and collected and analyzed data.
National Staff Development Council Standards Assessment Inventory Revisions and Secondary Data Analyses: This project built on SEDL's previous work conducting reliability and validity studies to further develop the Standards Assessment Inventory (SAI) for the National Staff Development Council (now Learning Forward). The study involved conducting multilevel factor analyses on large multistate data sets and using the findings from those analyses to assess the predictive validity of the SAI in regard to student academic achievement.
Teacher Resources and Student Achievement in High-Need Schools Investigation: As part of SEDL's completed 5-year regional educational laboratory contract, staff conducted a series of three policy research studies that addressed the relationship between educational resource allocation and student achievement. The studies assessed the benefits of using state databases from Texas and the surrounding states to document the relationship between teacher resources, including teacher salaries, education, and experience, on student achievement. SEDL designed and developed three studies to assess the relationship using large secondary state and federal data from more than 1,500 districts and provided the findings to policymakers and stakeholders through policy briefs and regional and state policy forums.
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