Education Research

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.

Featured Research

Better Methods for Learning What Works

“Educators need to know if widely used reading and math programs are really working for students. Our national studies seek to provide rigorous evidence
of the effectiveness of two longstanding and popular programs.” — Michael Vaden-Kiernan

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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Significant Work

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.

Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Southwest: The REL Southwest assists the states of Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas in using data and research evidence to address high-priority education needs. The project completes work through eight research alliances, which bring together educators, policymakers, researchers, and others to improve student outcomes.

Past Work

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.

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Resources

Afterschool

Image of publication cover Implementing Randomized Controlled Trial Studies in Afterschool Settings: The State of the Field
SEDL provided analytic and technical support to three large-scale randomized controlled trials (RCTs) assessing the effect of a promising literacy curriculum in afterschool settings on student academic achievement. This research brief is the first in a series intended to provide the field with insights culled from this collaborative effort.
Image of publication cover Key Issues and Strategies for Recruitment and Implementation in Large-Scale Randomized Controlled Trial Studies in Afterschool Settings
SEDL provided analytic and technical support to three large-scale randomized controlled trials (RCTs) assessing the effect of promising literacy curricula in afterschool settings on student academic achievement. This research brief is the second in a series intended to address some of the key challenges faced during the studies to provide insights to the research and practice community.
Image of publication cover The National Partnership for Quality Afterschool Learning Randomized Controlled Trial Studies of Promising Afterschool Programs: Summary of Findings
SEDL provided analytic and technical support to three large-scale randomized controlled trials (RCTs) assessing the effect of promising literacy curricula in afterschool settings on student academic achievement. This research brief, the last in a three-part series, presents an overview of the studies and a summary of the implementation and findings across the 2 years of funding.

Improving School Performance

Image of publication cover Teacher Resources and Student Achievement in High-Need Schools
With the growing federal, state, and local policy emphasis on teacher quality and student achievement, the Southwest Educational Development Laboratory (SEDL) investigated teacher resources and their relationship to student achievement in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas. The purpose of this study was to provide policymakers with information about the relationship between teacher salary, experience, and education, and the relationship between these teacher resources and student achievement, particularly in high-need schools.
Image of publication cover SEDL's Working Systemically Model: Final Report
From December 2000 through December 2005, the Southwest Educational Development Laboratory (SEDL) developed and refined a systemic model to improve student achievement in reading or mathematics in sites composed of low-performing districts and schools. This report describes the Working Systemically model developed under this contract, presenting analyses of data related to its impact in 12 sites distributed across SEDL's five-state region.
Image of publication cover REL Southwest Resources

This list provides an overview of the resources available from the Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Southwest. Resources include data inventories; reports, guides, and tools; research agendas; and workshops and technical assistance. 

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