Special Report
Federal

IES to Evaluate Programs Launched Under Stimulus

By Debra Viadero — November 30, 2009 | Corrected: February 21, 2019 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Corrected: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Marguerite Roza’s affiliation. She is a research associate professor at the University of Washington.

Details are starting to emerge about a study planned by the U.S. Department of Education to determine what states are doing with their education money under the economic-stimulus law and whether the efforts being funded improve schooling.

“Most of the money is really for stabilization, but $10 billion is going to be for competitive grants,” John Q. Easton, the director of the department’s Institute of Education Sciences, told his advisory board at its Nov. 9 meeting. “I certainly don’t want to be here in three years and have somebody say, ‘What did we get for that $10 billion?’ ”

“We’ve got to be learning from this,” he added of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding. “It’s too huge an opportunity to lose.”

The $787 billion package includes some $100 billion to help bolster education. The first reports show that the biggest portion of such aid spent so far has gone to save or create jobs. (“Stimulus Data Trove Examined,” Nov. 11, 2009.)

The institute is the lead office on the research project, which will also involve the department’s office of policy, planning, and evaluation.

Sue Betka, the IES’ deputy director for administration and policy planning, said the institute plans to spend $35 million over the next two years to get the evaluation up and running. The study is expected to last at least five years, as researchers sort out whether the strategies states put in place using stimulus money are making a difference in the quality of education.

As it stands now, the research design calls for “a three-layer” approach, according to Mr. Easton. The first layer will look at how states are using the money; the second, at whether common strategies are emerging; and the third calls for embedding impact evaluations within those cross-cutting strategies to determine if they’re producing results.

To get the answers, the Education Department plans to conduct nationally representative surveys, as well as smaller, more frequent, and more focused polls, to help it “figure out midcourse corrections and give feedback to states on what’s happening in their states,” said Marsha Silverberg, the acting commissioner for knowledge utilization at the IES.

For some programs, such as the $4 billion state competition under the Race to the Top Fund, the department will survey every grant recipient. “We’re also trying to reduce the burden on states by trying to gather as much information as possible from the required reporting that states will have to do,” Ms. Silverberg said.

Randomized experiments and correlational studies are among the other kinds of research methods the department hopes to use in its evaluation.

Final details are not expected until early next year; data collection will begin by fall 2010. The department’s policy, planning, and evaluation office, meanwhile, has contracted with the Washington-based American Institutes for Research to conduct in-depth studies of the stimulus-fueled improvement efforts unfolding in a small set of low-performing schools.

Good Timing

The pace and the design of the work are winning high marks from some experts.

“If you wait until programs have already started, it’s virtually impossible to get reliable information on what their effect was,” said Eric A. Hanushek, a researcher at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and the president of the National Board for Education Sciences, which advises the IES.

The institute has recruited a group of scholars for advice on an evaluation strategy. They include: Dale Ballou, an associate professor of public policy and education at Vanderbilt University; Kevin Carey, the policy director of Education Sector, a Washington think tank; Tom Cook, a professor of sociology, psychology, education, and social policy at Northwestern University; and Ronald F. Ferguson, a senior lecturer in education and public policy and senior research associate at the Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy at Harvard University.

The others are: Adam Gamoran, a professor of sociology and educational policy studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison; Margaret E. Goertz, an education professor at the University of Pennsylvania; David Heistad, the executive director of research, evaluation, and assessment for the Minneapolis public schools; James J. Kemple, the executive director of the Research Alliance for New York City Schools; Susanna Loeb and Sean F. Reardon, both associate professors of education at Stanford University; and Marguerite Roza, a research associate professor at the University of Washington.

A version of this article appeared in the December 02, 2009 edition of Education Week as IES to Evaluate Programs Launched Under Stimulus


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Evaluating Equity to Drive District-Wide Action this School Year
Educational leaders are charged with ensuring all students receive equitable access to a high-quality education. Yet equity is more than an action. It is a lens through which we continuously review instructional practices and student
Content provided by BetterLesson
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Attendance Awareness Month: The Research Behind Effective Interventions
More than a year has passed since American schools were abruptly closed to halt the spread of COVID-19. Many children have been out of regular school for most, or even all, of that time. Some
Content provided by AllHere

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Federal Feds to Probe Whether Texas Ban on School Mask Mandates Violates Disability Rights Laws
The Education Department has already opened investigations in six other states that ban universal school mask requirements.
2 min read
A staff member holds the door open for kids on the first day of school at Goodwin Frazier Elementary School in New Braunfels, Texas on Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020.
A staff member holds the door open at Goodwin Frazier Elementary School in New Braunfels, Texas in 2020. This year, Texas has prohibited school districts from requiring all students to wear masks.
Mikala Compton/Herald-Zeitung via AP
Federal New Federal Team to Work on Puerto Rico School Improvement, Oversight
The Puerto Rico Education Sustainability Team will focus on creating better learning environments and improving financial management.
3 min read
Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona visits the Emilio Delgado School in Corozal on June 30, 2021 during a visit to Puerto Rico.
Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona visits the Emilio Delgado School in Corozal on June 30, 2021 during a visit to Puerto Rico.
Teresa Canino Rivera/GDA via AP
Federal Pandemic Tests Limits of Cardona's Collaborative Approach as Education Secretary
He's sought the image of a veteran educator among former peers, but COVID has forced him to take a tough stance toward some state leaders.
10 min read
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona and Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter speak to Mia Arias, 10, during their visit to P.S. 5 Port Morris, a Bronx elementary school, Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021 in New York.
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona and Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter speak to Mia Arias, 10, during a visit to P.S. 5 Port Morris, a Bronx elementary school, last month.
Brittainy Newman/AP
Federal White House Launches Hispanic Education Initiative Led by Miguel Cardona
President Joe Biden said his administration intends to address the "systemic causes" of educational disparities faced by Hispanic students.
2 min read
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona writes down and draws positive affirmations on poster board with students during his visit to P.S. 5 Port Morris, a Bronx elementary school, Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021 in New York.
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona visits students in New York City at P.S. 5 Port Morris, a Bronx elementary school in the Bronx last month.
Brittainy Newman/AP