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Evaluation Review

Randall Juras
INTRODUCTION: When cluster randomized trials are used to evaluate school-based nutritional interventions such as school lunch programs, design-stage estimates of the required sample size must take into account the correlation in outcomes among individuals within each cluster (e.g., classrooms, schools, or districts). Estimates of the necessary parameters have been carefully developed for educational interventions, but for nutritional interventions the literature is thin. METHODS: Using data from two large multi-school, multi-district impact evaluations conducted in the United States, this article calculates estimates of the design parameters required for sizing school-based nutritional studies...
November 20, 2016: Evaluation Review
Ben Kelcey, Zuchao Shen, Jessaca Spybrook
OBJECTIVE: Over the past two decades, the lack of reliable empirical evidence concerning the effectiveness of educational interventions has motivated a new wave of research in education in sub-Saharan Africa (and across most of the world) that focuses on impact evaluation through rigorous research designs such as experiments. Often these experiments draw on the random assignment of entire clusters, such as schools, to accommodate the multilevel structure of schooling and the theory of action underlying many school-based interventions...
October 26, 2016: Evaluation Review
John Deke
BACKGROUND: Cluster randomized controlled trials (CRCTs) often require a large number of clusters in order to detect small effects with high probability. However, there are contexts where it may be possible to design a CRCT with a much smaller number of clusters (10 or fewer) and still detect meaningful effects. OBJECTIVES: The objective is to offer recommendations for best practices in design and analysis for small CRCTs. RESEARCH DESIGN: I use simulations to examine alternative design and analysis approaches...
October 25, 2016: Evaluation Review
Jeffrey C Valentine, Sandra Jo Wilson, David Rindskopf, Timothy S Lau, Emily E Tanner-Smith, Martha Yeide, Robin LaSota, Lisa Foster
For a variety of reasons, researchers and evidence-based clearinghouses synthesizing the results of multiple studies often have very few studies that are eligible for any given research question. This situation is less than optimal for meta-analysis as it is usually practiced, that is, by employing inverse variance weights, which allows more informative studies to contribute relatively more to the analysis. This article outlines the choices available for synthesis when there are few studies to synthesize. As background, we review the synthesis practices used in several projects done at the behest of governmental agencies and private foundations...
October 25, 2016: Evaluation Review
Richard Dorsett, Richard Hendra, Philip K Robins
BACKGROUND: Even a well-designed randomized control trial (RCT) study can produce ambiguous results. This article highlights a case in which full-sample results from a large-scale RCT in the United Kingdom differ from results for a subsample of survey respondents. OBJECTIVES: Our objective is to ascertain the source of the discrepancy in inferences across data sources and, in doing so, to highlight important threats to the reliability of the causal conclusions derived from even the strongest research designs...
October 25, 2016: Evaluation Review
Andrew P Jaciw, Li Lin, Boya Ma
BACKGROUND: Prior research has investigated design parameters for assessing average program impacts on achievement outcomes with cluster randomized trials (CRTs). Less is known about parameters important for assessing differential impacts. OBJECTIVES: This article develops a statistical framework for designing CRTs to assess differences in impact among student subgroups and presents initial estimates of critical parameters. RESEARCH DESIGN: Effect sizes and minimum detectable effect sizes for average and differential impacts are calculated before and after conditioning on effects of covariates using results from several CRTs...
October 18, 2016: Evaluation Review
Andrew P Jaciw
BACKGROUND: Past studies have examined factors associated with reductions in bias in comparison group studies (CGSs). The companion work to this article extends the framework to investigate the accuracy of generalized inferences from CGS. OBJECTIVES: This article empirically examines levels of bias in CGS-based impact estimates when used for generalization, and reductions in bias resulting from covariate adjustment. It assesses potential for bias reduction against criteria from past studies...
October 12, 2016: Evaluation Review
Geoffrey Phelps, Benjamin Kelcey, Nathan Jones, Shuangshuang Liu
Mathematics professional development is widely offered, typically with the goal of improving teachers' content knowledge, the quality of teaching, and ultimately students' achievement. Recently, new assessments focused on mathematical knowledge for teaching (MKT) have been developed to assist in the evaluation and improvement of mathematics professional development. This study presents empirical estimates of average program change in MKT and its variation with the goal of supporting the design of experimental trials that are adequately powered to detect a specified program effect...
October 3, 2016: Evaluation Review
T'Pring R Westbrook, Sarah A Avellar, Neil Seftor
BACKGROUND: The federal government's emphasis on supporting the implementation of evidence-based programs has fueled a need to conduct and assess rigorous evaluations of programs. Through partnerships with researchers, policy makers, and practitioners, evidence reviews-projects that identify, assess, and summarize existing research in a given area-play an important role in supporting the quality of these evaluations and how the findings are used. These reviews encourage the use of sound scientific principles to identify, select, and implement evidence-based programs...
September 30, 2016: Evaluation Review
Nianbo Dong, Wendy M Reinke, Keith C Herman, Catherine P Bradshaw, Desiree W Murray
BACKGROUND: There is a need for greater guidance regarding design parameters and empirical benchmarks for social and behavioral outcomes to inform assumptions in the design and interpretation of cluster randomized trials (CRTs). OBJECTIVES: We calculated the empirical reference values on critical research design parameters associated with statistical power for children's social and behavioral outcomes, including effect sizes, intraclass correlations (ICCs), and proportions of variance explained by a covariate at different levels (R (2))...
September 30, 2016: Evaluation Review
John Deke, Hanley Chiang
BACKGROUND: To limit the influence of attrition bias in assessments of intervention effectiveness, several federal evidence reviews have established a standard for acceptable levels of sample attrition in randomized controlled trials. These evidence reviews include the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC), the Home Visiting Evidence of Effectiveness Review, and the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Evidence Review. We believe the WWC attrition standard may constitute the first use of model-based, empirically supported bounds on attrition bias in the context of a federally sponsored systematic evidence review...
September 26, 2016: Evaluation Review
Suthinee Supanantaroek, Robert Lensink, Nina Hansen
BACKGROUND: Saving plays a crucial role in the process of economic growth. However, one main reason why poor people often do not save is that they lack financial knowledge. Improving the savings culture of children through financial education is a promising way to develop savings attitudes and behavior early in life. OBJECTIVES: This study is one of the first that examines the effects of social and financial education training and a children's club developed by Aflatoun on savings attitudes and behavior among primary school children in Uganda, besides Berry, Karlan, and Pradhan...
September 7, 2016: Evaluation Review
Neil Seftor
BACKGROUND: In 2002, the U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences (IES) established the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) at the confluence of a push to improve education research quality, a shift toward evidence-based decision-making, and an expansion of systematic reviews. In addition to providing decision makers with evidence to inform their choices, a systematic review sets expectations regarding study quality and execution for research on program efficacy. In this article, we examine education research through the filter of a long running systematic review to assess research quality over time and the role of the systematic review in producing evidence...
September 7, 2016: Evaluation Review
Tamara M Haegerich, Corinne David-Ferdon, Rita K Noonan, Brian J Manns, Holly C Billie
Injury and violence prevention strategies have greater potential for impact when they are based on scientific evidence. Systematic reviews of the scientific evidence can contribute key information about which policies and programs might have the greatest impact when implemented. However, systematic reviews have limitations, such as lack of implementation guidance and contextual information, that can limit the application of knowledge. "Technical packages," developed by knowledge brokers such as the federal government, nonprofit agencies, and academic institutions, have the potential to be an efficient mechanism for making information from systematic reviews actionable...
September 7, 2016: Evaluation Review
Natalie Rebelo Da Silva, Hazel Zaranyika, Laurenz Langer, Nicola Randall, Evans Muchiri, Ruth Stewart
BACKGROUND: Conducting a systematic review in social policy is a resource-intensive process in terms of time and funds. It is thus important to understand the scope of the evidence base of a topic area prior to conducting a synthesis of primary research in order to maximize these resources. One approach to conserving resources is to map out the available evidence prior to undertaking a traditional synthesis. A few examples of this approach exist in the form of gap maps, overviews of reviews, and systematic maps supported by social policy and systematic review agencies alike...
September 6, 2016: Evaluation Review
Diane Paulsell, Jaime Thomas, Shannon Monahan, Neil S Seftor
BACKGROUND: Systematic reviews sponsored by federal departments or agencies play an increasingly important role in disseminating information about evidence-based programs and have become a trusted source of information for administrators and practitioners seeking evidence-based programs to implement. These users vary in their knowledge of evaluation methods and their ability to interpret systematic review findings. They must consider factors beyond program effectiveness when selecting an intervention, such as the relevance of the intervention to their target population, community context, and service delivery system; readiness for replication and scale-up; and the ability of their service delivery system or agency to implement the intervention...
September 2, 2016: Evaluation Review
Sarah A Avellar, Jaime Thomas, Rebecca Kleinman, Emily Sama-Miller, Sara E Woodruff, Rebecca Coughlin, T'Pring R Westbrook
BACKGROUND: Systematic reviews-which identify, assess, and summarize existing research-are usually designed to determine whether research shows that an intervention has evidence of effectiveness, rather than whether an intervention will work under different circumstances. The reviews typically focus on the internal validity of the research and do not consistently incorporate information on external validity into their conclusions. OBJECTIVES: In this article, we focus on how systematic reviews address external validity...
August 31, 2016: Evaluation Review
Robin Jacob, Marie-Andree Somers, Pei Zhu, Howard Bloom
OBJECTIVE: In this article, we examine whether a well-executed comparative interrupted time series (CITS) design can produce valid inferences about the effectiveness of a school-level intervention. This article also explores the trade-off between bias reduction and precision loss across different methods of selecting comparison groups for the CITS design and assesses whether choosing matched comparison schools based only on preintervention test scores is sufficient to produce internally valid impact estimates...
August 23, 2016: Evaluation Review
Alexandra Bonardi, Christine J Clifford, Nira Hadar
BACKGROUND: This review describes the methods used for a systematic review of oral health intervention literature in a target population (people with intellectual and developmental disability (I/DD)), which spans a broad range of interventions and study types, conducted with specialized software. OBJECTIVE: The aim of this article is to demonstrate the review strategy, using the free, online systematic review data repository (SRDR) tool, for oral health interventions aimed at reducing disparities between people with I/DD and the general population...
August 19, 2016: Evaluation Review
Brian Goesling, Sarah Oberlander, Lisa Trivits
BACKGROUND: Systematic reviews help policy makers and practitioners make sense of research findings in a particular program, policy, or practice area by synthesizing evidence across multiple studies. However, the link between review findings and practical decision-making is rarely one-to-one. Policy makers and practitioners may use systematic review findings to help guide their decisions, but they may also rely on other information sources or personal judgment. OBJECTIVES: To describe a recent effort by the U...
August 19, 2016: Evaluation Review
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