Westat to Evaluate Key Education Initiatives

Westat will provide evaluation support to several new education programs to help clients learn the effectiveness of these novel strategies and provide analysis on any needed course correction. Here we spotlight upcoming projects for the U.S. Department of Education (ED) that aim to give greater insight into how to improve outcomes for all students as we move through the pandemic.

“These new ED programs provide interesting, innovative ideas, and our task will be to assess what’s working, what’s not, and what has potential to help students, teachers, and administrators facing so many unexpected challenges,” notes Patty Troppe, Ph.D., a Westat Vice President.

Evaluating Policies, Programs, and Strategies to Support English Learners. English learners (ELs) are a substantial, diverse, and growing segment of students in the United States. The COVID-19 pandemic and online learning was a setback for many students, and ELs were especially vulnerable as they are more likely to be affected by poverty, limited broadband access, and challenges participating in mainstream classes. Westat and its partners will assist the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) in producing rigorous and policy-relevant evidence on what works for ELs. Specifically, our work is intended to inform policy decisions about EL reclassification criteria—that is, the level of English language proficiency and other criteria needed for a student to end EL services. Our team will measure how reclassification affects ELs’ instructional opportunities, experiences, achievement, and attainment. We will recruit and consult with external experts on a technical working group, create a study design and analysis plan, recruit states and districts, collect and analyze administrative and survey data, and produce an evaluation report.

Evaluating Programs and Strategies to Accelerate School Improvement. Westat will support MDRC in conducting evaluations of programs and strategies designed to improve school performance and student outcomes. These evaluations are sponsored by the National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance within IES. Initially, we will prepare for and launch an impact evaluation of innovative education technology products to supplement math instruction in low-performing schools. Westat will provide input into the study design, recruitment plan, survey instruments, and analysis plan and also will help to recruit study sites.

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