New Year, New Insights: Working Together to Make a Difference for Students

Jan 16, 2020

Young school children


As we step into the new year, Mathematica is proud to announce new partnerships with the U.S. Department of Education. On these projects, we will work together to evaluate education programs and produce insights that strengthen teaching and learning.

The Value of Wraparound Services

Promise Neighborhoods and Full-Service Community Schools. Place-based initiatives coordinate services in local communities to improve children’s educational outcomes and family well-being. The U.S. Department of Education’s growing investment in these initiatives includes Promise Neighborhoods and Full-Service Community Schools grants to more than 50 neighborhoods and 140 schools across the country. Despite this growth, evidence of effectiveness is sparse. This study will explore whether these place-based interventions can improve educational outcomes.

Read more about our place-based work.

21st Century Community Learning Centers. With 2019 appropriations of $1.2 billion, this program is the only federal source of funds for after-school and summer learning services. The program, which focuses on children in low-performing schools, provides a variety of services including homework help, academic enrichment, physical activity, college and career readiness activities, and youth leadership opportunities. This study will evaluate a promising strategy to inform the 21st Century program’s continuous improvement efforts. In addition to evaluating a promising strategy, the evaluation will collect data on program implementation from a sample of centers.

Connecting Research to Practice

Supporting Evidence Building and Use. Useful evidence in education is technically rigorous, carefully documented, clearly communicated, and relevant to educators’ concerns. To encourage the field to produce and disseminate useful evidence, IES has articulated a set of “next-generation” principles for high quality studies: the Standards for Excellence in Education Research (SEER Principles). Mathematica will work with IES to produce technical papers, toolkits, and learning opportunities that help researchers put the SEER Principles into practice.

Read more about our work in strengthening research evidence and use.

What Works Clearinghouse Practice Guides. IES develops practice guides to help educators know which teaching methods and practices have been tested and shown to work. We are working with Instructional Research Group and IES to develop a guide on how educators can assist students struggling with reading and another on assisting students struggling with math. These guides provide evidence-based recommendations and clear action steps that elementary and middle school teachers can use in their classrooms. This project builds on our other work with IES on the What Works Clearinghouse.

Regional Comprehensive Center. The U.S. Department of Education’s Comprehensive Center Program supports states and school districts in designing and implementing evidence-based policies, practices, programs, and interventions. This network of centers works closely with the Regional Educational Laboratories to coordinate services to stakeholders. We are partnering with WestEd on the Region 2 Comprehensive Center that works with state, regional, and local stakeholders in New York, Connecticut, and Rhode Island to raise the quality of instruction and close student achievement gaps. Mathematica both serves as the external evaluator and supports the continuous improvement of technical assistance services provided by the Region 2 Comprehensive Center.

Support for Teachers

Teacher Residency Programs and Professional Development. Improving teacher effectiveness is a key policy goal at the local, state, and federal levels. Teacher residency programs are based on the idea that new teachers will be best prepared if they complete an extended residency with an experienced and trained mentor, along with coursework integrated with the residency. A new study will assess the feasibility of random assignment evaluations of (1) teacher residency programs and (2) promising teacher professional development strategies. It will then move forward with one of these evaluations to shed light on promising approaches for improving teacher effectiveness.

Read more about our work in preparing teachers to be effective.

Read more about our work to help our education partners find out what can be done, how to make it happen, and where to go next.