MDRC Receives Multiple Grants from the Federal Institute of Education Sciences


In June, the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) at the U.S. Department of Education announced several grants that it has made to MDRC and its partners:

P-TECH 9-14 Schools: An Impact, Implementation, and Cost Study: The P-TECH 9-14 high school model represents a contemporary vision for career and technical education. The unique school model provides students with an enriched curriculum to complete both a high school diploma and a cost-free associate’s degree in six years. The model also incorporates employment opportunities with an industry partner. This model of school has proliferated nationally. In New York City, the Department of Education, in partnership with the City University of New York, operates seven such schools. MDRC will conduct the first efficacy evaluation of the model. The model will include an impact evaluation, implementation, and cost study.  

Teaching and Learning 21st Century Skills in Community Colleges: A Study of the New World of Work Program: Twenty-first century skills (e.g., the ability to communicate, collaborate, and adapt) are increasingly viewed as critical for success in both postsecondary settings and the workforce, but there are few opportunities in academic institutions for students to develop these skills. In this project, researchers will adapt and refine an existing intervention called the New World of Work (NWoW), a course that aims to improve community college students’ 21st-century skills in a systematic way. The team, which includes Rajinder Gill from Shasta College, will pilot test the refined intervention in community college career and technical education courses.

Statistical Power When Adjusting for Multiple Hypothesis Tests: Methodology Expansions and Software Tools: A previous IES grant to MDRC produced a methodology for estimating power when accounting for multiplicity adjustments and investigated alternatives to standard practice for how power is defined in studies that adjust for multiplicity. The development, implementation, and validation of the methodology focused on multiplicity that results from estimating effects on multiple outcomes using a single research design and analysis plan — a multisite, blocked randomized controlled trial analyzed with block-specific intercepts and constant effects across blocks. With this new grant, MDRC will  (1) extend the methodology and recommendations for practice to other modeling assumptions, other study designs,  and perhaps other types of multiplicity (e.g., due to multiple subgroups); (2) publish user-friendly, open-source software for applied researchers; (3) produce an interactive web application that allows users to create plots of power, minimum detectable effect sizes or sample size requirements for studies with multiplicity; (4) host a webinar; and (5) publish a paper in a peer-reviewed journal. 

Assessing the Implementation, Impact & Variation of Career and Technical Education (CTE) Innovation: NYC as a Lab for Rigorous CTE Research: The study will estimate the causal impact of New York City’s career and technical education (CTE) programs on exposure to CTE-related activities, academic and technical outcomes, social competencies, secondary and postsecondary educational attainment, and transitions to the labor market. It will examine variation across more than 200 CTE programs in NYC, in order to identify specific program elements and contextual factors that are most likely to be associated with positive impacts. Findings from the study, particularly the identification of malleable factors associated with CTE program effectiveness, will inform CTE policy and practice for New York City, New York State, the federal government, and other states and school districts around the country. This project will be led by the Research Alliance for New York City Schools at NYU, in collaboration with MDRC, the University of Connecticut, and the NYU Institute for Education and Social Policy.

Strengthening School Readiness through Pre-K for All: A University-District Partnership: In 2014, New York City’s Department of Education (NYC DOE) launched Pre-K for All, a program to make high-quality pubic prekindergarten available to all four-year olds in the city. NYC DOE assigns each prekindergarten site to one of four tracks, each with its own focus: (1) Pre-K Explore, which has a math focus; (2) Pre-K Thrive, which focuses on child behavior and family engagement; (3) Pre-K Create, which has an arts focus; and (4) Pre-K Inspire, which allows sites to choose their own focus. NYC DOE provides professional development and some curriculum and materials specific to the first three tracks, while the fourth track, Inspire, receives more general professional development. The project will be led by principal investigators at NYU Steinhardt and the New York City Department of Education, in collaboration with NYU School of Medicine, MDRC, University of Michigan, and Westat.