The U.S. Department of Education’s Institute for Education Sciences recently recognized Abt Associates for the quality of its technical assistance to local evaluators of 16 programs funded by the Striving Readers Grant Program. Each evaluation funded under Striving Readers—a discretionary grant program focused on improving the reading achievement of middle and high school-age students—was shown to meet the highest standards of scientific evidence, as defined by IES’ What Works Clearinghouse, an achievement that only 6% of studies reviewed have realized.
“The What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) is funded by IES to critically assess the quality of research evidence in education, and only 411 studies out of 6705 studies have met its evidence standards, according to its website,” explained Dr. Beth Boulay, senior associate at Abt Associates and project lead. “This recognition reflects not only our efforts but also the hard work of the local evaluators and their commitment to high quality research.”
The Striving Readers Program was funded by the U.S. Department of Education (ED) in response to the high dropout rates and poor reading levels among the nation’s students. The Department, recognizing the urgent need for credible evidence of effective strategies for addressing the literacy crisis, awarded eight Striving Readers grants to select school districts in 2006 and eight more grants to six states in 2009. To ensure that the instructional strategies implemented by the grantees were rigorously evaluated, using the highest quality scientific research methods, ED retained Abt Associates.
Abt provided technical assistance to local researchers in 14 states for a period of six years. The states offering the literacy interventions included Illinois (2), Kentucky (2), Tennessee, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon, California, Massachusetts, Louisiana, Michigan, New York, Washington, Wisconsin, and Virginia.
“Our WWC-certified reviewers determined that the [Striving Readers] studies met WWC’s standards for at least one outcome, and IES officials stated that this ‘demonstrated the quality of the technical assistance provided by Abt throughout the contract,’” said Boulay. She added that IES also reported that Abt “conducted thorough and technically sound reviews of the final reports of both cohorts of Striving Readers grantees” and [Abt’s] progress summaries of the evaluations were “exceptionally helpful.”
“Not only did we guarantee that the research resulted in top quality evidence on which policy decisions can be made, Abt ensured Americans the best return on their evaluation tax dollars and helped build the capacity of the research community,” said Boulay. “We’re very proud of our work and that of the local evaluators.”
Reports of the final impact studies for Striving Readers Projects (FY 2006 Cohort) can be found at http://www2.ed.gov/programs/strivingreaders/performance.html. For evaluations of Striving Readers Projects (FY 2009 Cohort), please visit http://www2.ed.gov/programs/strivingreaders/2009cohortprojectprofiles.pdf.
About Abt Associates
Abt Associates is a mission-driven, global leader in research and program implementation in the fields of health, social and environmental policy, and international development. Known for its rigorous approach to solving complex challenges, Abt Associates is regularly ranked as one of the top 20 global research firms and one of the top 40 international development innovators. The company has multiple offices in the U.S. and program offices in nearly 40 countries. www.abtassociates.com