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Development Grant Awarded to Empirical Education

The U.S. Department of Education awarded Empirical Education a research grant to develop web-based software tools to support school administrators in conducting their own program evaluations. The two-and-a-half year project was awarded through the Small Business Innovative Research program administered and funded by the Institute of Education Sciences in the U.S. Department of Education. The proposal received excellent reviews in this competitive program. One reviewer remarked: “This software system is in the spirit of NCLB and IES to make curriculum, professional development, and other policy decisions based on rigorous research. This would be an improvement over other systems that districts and schools use that mostly generate tables.” While current data-driven decision making systems provide tabular information or comparisons in terms of bar graphs, the software to be developed—an enhancement of our current MeasureResults™ program—helps school personnel create appropriate research designs following a decision process. It then provides access to a web-based service that uses sophisticated statistical software to test whether there is a difference in the results for a new program compared to the school‘s existing programs. The reviewer added that the web-based system instantiates a “very good idea to provide [a] user-friendly and cost-effective software system to districts and schools to insert data for evaluating their own programs.” Another reviewer agreed, noting that: “The theory behind the tool is sound and would provide analyses appropriate to the questions being asked.” The reviewer also remarked that “…this would be a highly valuable tool. It is likely that the tool would be widely disseminated and utilized.” The company will begin deploying early versions of the software in school systems this coming fall.