​​Applying Rigorous Research and Data to Improve Education Outcomes

Federal, state, and local education agencies depend on the availability of reliable data to understand how their policies and programs impact student educational outcomes.

Policymakers need to understand the key levers of student success and how education policies affect practice. Educators need stronger tools to measure program quality and more reliable data systems to evaluate programs and improve program implementation across diverse contexts.

In response, education agencies are prioritizing the use of rigorous research methods and the development of integrated longitudinal data systems that link administrative and program data across government agencies. These advances in research and data are being used to improve education policy and practice, particularly for disadvantaged students and families.

IMPAQ helps federal, state and local education agencies improve their education policies and practices through rigorous research, improved data use, and technical assistance, focusing on the following areas:

  • Strengthening early childhood programs and ensuring children’s school readiness
  • Improving high school graduation rates and success in college and careers
  • Preparing, identifying, and retaining effective teachers and school leaders
  • Turning around low-performing schools
  • Promoting educational equity and supporting special populations
  • Preparing students for careers in math, science, and technology
  • Promoting healthy social, emotional and behavioral development 

Timely & Responsive to Your Changing Needs

IMPAQ works closely with clients to provide high quality research, evaluation, and technical assistance services. Teams of IMPAQ experts specialize in an array of education topic areas and methodologies, applying their deep expertise to inform policy and practice and improve research rigor and program implementation.

When needed, IMPAQ can quickly pull together teams with expertise including design, development, implementation, survey operations, and technology expertise to strengthen education-focused projects.

Click on any of the links below to learn more about our experience with education policies and programs.

Research and Evaluation

IMPAQ brings significant experience in the research and evaluation of federal, state, and local education programs, providing results that inform education policy and practice, through:

  • Economic analyses,
  • Impact studies,
  • Surveys,
  • Interviews,
  • Focus groups, and
  • Collecting, maintaining, and analyzing program and administrative data.
National Evaluation of the Comprehensive Technical Assistance Centers

For the Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences, IMPAQ is conducting a 5-year national evaluation of 22 Comprehensive Technical Assistance Centers. The Centers help state education agencies build their capacity to implement state-level initiatives and support district- and school-level initiatives that improve education outcomes for all students, close achievement gaps, and improve instruction quality. IMPAQ is examining the design, implementation, and outcomes of the Centers’ work through site visits, interviews, and surveys of Center and state education agency staff, analysis of activity data, document review, observations, and project profiles.

Improving Math Identity for Underrepresented Populations: An Implementation and Impact Study of After-School Math PLUS

IMPAQ International was awarded an Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to study the development of math identity through an innovative after-school curriculum called After School Math Plus (ASM+). Math identity refers to students’ beliefs, attitudes, emotions, and dispositions about mathematics and their resulting motivation and approach to learning and using mathematics knowledge. Research shows that math identity plays a crucial role in the decision to participate in math education, and is a greater predictor of participation in math than achievement or enrollment in advanced courses. IMPAQ will study the impact of ASM+ through a rigorous randomized controlled trial of 30 after-school sites in South Carolina serving predominately low-income and minority students. Using an implementation study, IMPAQ will collect data to assess program implementation and understand the experiences of group leaders and students in the ASM+ program and at comparison sites.

Click here to view more of our research and evaluation projects specific to education.

Capacity Building

IMPAQ’s capacity building program focuses on providing individuals, governments, international organizations, and non-governmental organizations with an understanding of the obstacles that inhibit them from meeting their development goals, while helping them achieve measurable and sustainable processes for overcoming those obstacles. IMPAQ collaborates with clients on a range of activities, including:

  • Research,
  • Policy recommendations,
  • Frameworks and processes to address gaps, and
  • Dashboards.
Washington’s STEM Alliance Engagement and Education Dashboard Project

IMPAQ is conducting work in education policy, evaluation, and data science for Washington STEM, a non-profit in Washington State interested in increasing the number of workers needed to fill critical job shortages in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). The work focuses on improvements in STEM preparation in early learning; K-12 school and out-of-school programs; post-secondary education; and employer-sponsored programs and training. To date, this work has involved engaging a Governor-appointed STEM Alliance in the development of key policy recommendations to the Washington legislature for improving STEM education and training in the state. The IMPAQ team has worked with state stakeholders and the Governor’s STEM Alliance to develop and publish a state-wide evaluation framework to address STEM gaps, align work, and measure outcomes, along with a web-based dashboard for monitoring and reporting STEM talent supply and demand.

Networked Improvement Communities

IMPAQ is prioritizing the use of networked improvement communities (NIC) and partnerships to strengthen educational policies and improve student outcomes. NIC’s and other forms of research partnerships recognize that problems of practice are complex, multi-faceted, difficult to define, and extend beyond the school and classroom. IMPAQ researchers are bringing practitioners and policymakers together around a common set of priorities to develop and carry out a common set of research priorities.

Capacity Building Project to Advance Research on Girls’ Math Identity

Funded by the NSF, IMPAQ is collaborating with FHI 360 and the New York Academy of Sciences on a 3-year capacity building project to support the groundwork necessary to advance research on girls’ math identity. Through this effort, IMPAQ seeks to improve STEM learning for girls and expand their participation in STEM education and future STEM-related careers. The focus is on girls in fourth through eighth grades, critical transition years from elementary school to middle school and then to high school. Specific objectives are to:

  1. Increase understanding of and knowledge about girls' math identity;
  2. Develop a NIC of researchers and practitioners that focuses on girls' math identity; and
  3. Identify necessary next steps for advancing STEM teaching and learning.

Technical Assistance

IMPAQ provides technical assistance and support to education programs and demonstration projects. Past project have included:

  • Supporting grantees in program design and start-up;
  • Improving implementation of research and evaluation activities;
  • Developing data collection systems; and
  • Improving procedures for more efficient program delivery.
International and Foreign Language Education Evaluation Support

The IMPAQ team provided technical evaluation assistance to the Department of Education, Office of Postsecondary Education for International and Foreign Language Education (IFLE) applicants and grantees through development of improved performance measures and other evaluation guidance materials. This project had two main objectives: 1) improve the effectiveness of IFLE’s programs, and 2) increase transparency and accountability. Tasks included:

  • Performing literature searches of research, evaluation studies, and other publications related to IFLE programs;
  • Development of a searchable database of relevant publications for the IFLE office;
  • Overseeing the development of office-wide and program-specific logic models;
  • Development of outcome measures, analysis of existing performance data; and
  • Recommendations for developing a comprehensive program evaluation strategy.
Social Return on Investment Analyses for Georgia's Race to the Top

IMPAQ conducted a Social Return on Investment (SROI) analysis for the Georgia Governor’s Office of Student Achievement. From May 2014 to June 2015, IMPAQ studied the value of changes brought about by four programs funded by Georgia’s Race to the Top grant that focused on supporting high school students’ transitions to career and college through innovative STEM learning. SROI analyses are similar to cost-benefit analyses; however, they value the entire range of project outcomes and are designed to assist in decision-making regarding the social impacts of change. The SROI approach focuses on understanding what has changed, what matters about those changes, and the social value of those changes. The programs’ greatest effects on social value were found to be through estimated impact on post-secondary educational attainment and employment outcomes, especially for at risk students. At the conclusion of the study, IMPAQ held a workshop with the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement to build their capacity to use SROI in future program evaluations.

Helping Identify Schools That "Beat The Odds"

IMPAQ researchers, in cooperation with the Regional Educational Laboratory – Midwest, worked with the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) to identify schools that “beat the odds (BTO),” or performed better than expected given their demographic characteristics. The team started by synthesizing findings from hundreds of research studies to identify the organizational factors that may be related to school turnaround and sustained high performance. Using this information, IMPAQ researchers developed and validated a survey to help MDE and, in the future, other states or districts, examine practices associated with high performance. They also conducted a study that examined how various statistical models influenced the selection of BTO schools. MDE plans to use the survey and study results to improve the BTO school identification process and transfer key practices of BTO schools to lower performing schools.

Click here to view more of our technical assistance projects specific to education.

Survey Research

IMPAQ’s Survey Research Division offers a full range of survey and data collection services. Using the IMPAQ in-house survey center facilitates close collaboration between research staff and survey experts, which ensures that IMPAQ surveys meet the highest professional standards. In addition, IMPAQ has developed sophisticated IT and data processing systems, which enable researchers to clean, organize, and analyze large sets of survey, program, and administrative data.

National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE)

IMPAQ is a subcontractor to the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago for the administration and analysis of a national survey of supply and demand for early care and education. This survey is sponsored by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Administration for Children and Families. The NSECE includes a household survey, a child care provider survey, and a survey of the child care workforce. The IMPAQ team supported administration of the child care provider survey through outreach to child care providers and advocacy organizations nationwide. Researchers developed outreach materials and contacted child care organizations in every state and nationally to obtain their support for the survey. In addition, the team conducted preliminary analysis of data on characteristics of center-based and home-based providers, focusing on indicators associated with child care quality, and developed public-release variables along with the accompanying technical documentation.

Literacy and Math Design Collaborative: Scale Up and Sustainability Project

IMPAQ provided web-based data collection support to two Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation-funded projects for Research for Action and University of California, Los Angeles’ Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing. These surveys examined the usage, sustainability, and scalability of the Literacy Design Collaborative and Math Design Collaborative initiatives and included a national sample of approximately 5,200 teachers, principals, and administrators. IMPAQ services were many and included:

  • Questionnaire design;
  • Questionnaire pilot testing for Office of Management and Budget and Institutional Review Board submission;
  • Complex sampling design for large-scale surveys;
  • Instrument programming;
  • Multi-mode interviewing;
  • Survey data analysis; and
  • Production and dissemination of reports.

Click here to view more of our survey research projects specific to education.

Health and Behavioral Interventions

Health and behavioral choices can significantly affect an education program’s ability to achieve its goals. IMPAQ’s health and behavioral interventions work helps improves the capacity of the federal government, foundations, non-profits, states, districts, and schools to affect academic outcomes by better understanding the impact of their interventions.

Impact Evaluation of Pono Choices Teen Pregnancy and Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) Prevention Program

This randomized controlled trial impact evaluation of the University of Hawaii's (UH) Pono Choices program is funded by DHHS’s Office of Adolescent Health. IMPAQ is the external evaluator of UH Manoa's 4-year Pono Choices program, a culturally responsive teen pregnancy and STI prevention program that seeks to provide the knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, and skills necessary for young Hawaiian adolescents to reduce their risk of STIs and pregnancy by incorporating medically accurate information, character education, and Hawaiian cultural values. The evaluation includes a process study to measure the fidelity of the intervention and assess its implementation and an outcome study to produce valid estimates through a randomized controlled trial of the intervention’s impact.

Social-Emotional & Affective Intervention & Assessment Landscape in Higher Education

Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, this project aims to study the landscape of research and practice on non-cognitive factors (also known as social-emotional and affective factors) in higher education and employment. It examines the research base to determine:

  • Which factors are most important for college success and career readiness;
  • Which interventions are being used to develop these factors; and
  • How the factors are assessed.

The project also aims to identify gaps in the field and develop actionable recommendations for the foundation's work in social-emotional and affective factors. In collaboration with scholars from Harvard University and Boston College, IMPAQ is designing and administering three surveys of higher education institutions and workforce employers; conducting follow-up interviews; analyzing the data; and participating in reporting and dissemination efforts.

Learn More

Complete our contact form or call us at (443) 259-5500 to discuss how IMPAQ can help you better understand and improve your education programs.