At IMPAQ, we believe that “an investment in knowledge pays the best interest,” - that ultimately improving the lives of youth and their families requires increasing access to, and enhancing the quality of, education.
To that end, IMPAQ has brought together leading experts in education and evaluation methods to conduct research that improves the effectiveness of K-20 educational programs, and the educational attainment of the students they serve.
IMPAQ’s Education Division is collaborating with private foundations, the Department of Education, school districts and other government agencies to conduct rigorous research and evaluation of programs, policies, and practices in education. Specific focus areas include, but are not limited to, the following:
Systemic Reforms & Technical Assistance
Today, state and local education agencies are playing a key role in shaping education reforms. Many of these reforms call for innovative, comprehensive and multi-faceted approaches to improving the quality of education and student achievement. For example, working with the U.S. Department of Education, IMPAQ is conducting a national evaluation of the Comprehensive Technical Assistance Centers that are designed to help state education agencies build their capacity to implement state-level initiatives that improve education outcomes for all students, close achievement gaps and improve the quality of instruction. Our experts also provided monitoring support and evaluation of 21st Century Community Learning Centers, designed to provide academic enrichment programs during non-school hours for students who attend high poverty and low-performing schools.
IMPAQ is dedicated to providing educators with the tools they need by studying how professional development can lead to improved teaching practices. We are also examining the success of interventions designed to improve teacher effectiveness in a wide range of content areas. For example, through a validation study funded by the Department of Education’s Investing in Innovation program, our experts are investigating the impact of Reading Apprenticeship, a teacher professional development model on student achievement in literacy. Our staff also led two experimental evaluations of professional development programs designed to support teachers of English language learners: Quality Teaching for English Learners (QTEL) for middle school teachers, and Pacific Communities with High Performance in Literacy Development (Pacific CHILD).
School performance is a complex phenomenon, shaped by a wide variety of factors intrinsic to students and their external environment. In addition to content knowledge and academic proficiencies, students must develop sets of behavior, skills, attitudes and strategies that are crucial to academic performance in their classes, but that may not be reflected in their scores on cognitive tests. IMPAQ is at the forefront of research in non-cognitive factors by participating in studies that help schools understand their use of practices aimed at fostering non-cognitive factors. Through a project to review the existing interventions aimed at building an academic mindset central to student ownership of learning, IMPAQ’s Education Division conducted a literature scan and interviewed experts and practitioners who have studied, developed and implemented these interventions. We are also conducting a landscape study of socio-emotional and affective interventions and assessments in higher education and the workforce.
Early Childhood Education
The years before a child reaches kindergarten are among the most critical in influencing his or her longterm developmental path. With the movement towards a national consensus on the need for universal pre-kindergarten services, educators are striving to provide high quality support and services to improve opportunities and outcomes, engage parents in their child’s early learning and development, and improve the early education workforce in order to prepare young children to succeed later in school. IMPAQ’s current work with the National Survey of Early Care and Education, led by NORC at the University of Chicago, is a reflection of our commitment to build knowledge in this field. We are supporting this project by providing outreach, analyzing data on the child care workforce and child care provider characteristics and developing public-release data files. We also conducted an experimental evaluation of the Program for Infant Toddler Care, a caregiver training program, to examine its impact on child care quality, early language skills, and cognitive and socio-emotional development.
Many evidence-based programs, practices and strategies have been designed to help increase student academic performance, improve safety, decrease behavioral problems and establish a positive school culture. Today IMPAQ is working with government officials and organizations to evaluate programs established to prevent youth violence and bullying – such as Howard County Maryland’s community based youth bullying program, which is the first of its kind in the country. In Hawaii, we are evaluating the Pono Choices program, a culturally responsive school-based program designed to prevent teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.
Frustrated by the status of education progress, some policy makers have suggested that competition, privatization and other elements of a market economy will improve public schools. These reforms may include expanding school choice using vouchers or charter schools, or reforming how teachers are paid. We understand the obstacles many parents face when trying to determine the best options for school enrollment for their children. Our Education team organized an exploratory study to identify promising strategies for providing parents with high-quality information that will help them make effective school choices; our team also examined the feasibility and design of an impact evaluation focused on this topic. We also conducted a feasibility study for the national evaluation of the Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF) program.
Education experts believe that technology has the potential to support personalized instruction, boost student engagement, and enhance students’ critical thinking skills. However, the process of introducing and scaling up new technologies in schools, - managing students’ use of the devices and - integrating the use of new technology into curricular goals remains challenging. In contributing to these efforts, IMPAQ examined how Cosmos Chaos, a computer game developed by Pacific Resources for Education and Learning, could be effectively implemented in after-school programs in one San Diego school district. Another project involved a five-year evaluation that examined how the Berkeley Unified School District integrated technology into teaching and learning, including addressing the needs of students with disabilities in fully inclusive classrooms.
Large Scale Data Collection & Information Management Systems
IMPAQ’s Survey Division and Technology Solutions Division have extensive capabilities in large-scale data collection and information management systems. Examples include:
- Two multi-modal surveys of 5,200 nationally representative teachers, principals and administrators to examine the usage, sustainability and scalability of the Literacy Design Collaborative and Math Design Collaborative initiatives.
- A review of Howard County Public Schools’ data system for 50,000 students by mapping high priority systems, determining the completeness, accuracy and efficiency of the data, and recommending improvement to ensure procedural transparency, accountability, confidentiality and strategic data use.
In addition to these focus areas, IMPAQ education researchers bring in a wide range of content and methodological expertise in special education, gender equity, higher education (including community colleges), school to career transition, youth development, adult literacy and education, education finance, afterschool programs, rural education, foreign languages, and international education. As a part of our continued growth, in 2013, IMPAQ expanded its capacities through the acquisition of Berkeley Policy Associates (BPA), a public policy research company based in Oakland, California.