Ed-Tech Companies Can Compete in Research Challenge to Replicate High-Impact Studies

Associate Editor

Ed-tech companies are among the organizations invited to participate in an upcoming competition for research grants that the Institute of Education Sciences will soon kick off with a request for applications.

The IES will fund research to replicate specific studies that have shown “strong evidence of impact.”

Sixteen projects in reading and math are candidates for the “systematic replication RFA,” in which researchers will see whether they can reproduce the impact outcome under different circumstances.

The full rationale for the challenge was described by Mark Schneider, the director of IES, in a message on the IES website. He said a central goal of IES’ mission “to identify what works, for whom, under what conditions” is often derailed because many of these projects “were carried out in a single location and/or tested using a relatively small number of settings, teachers, and learners.”

The research proposals chosen for the challenge will involve interventions in venues “that systematically vary in student demographics, geographic locations, implementation, or technology,” he wrote.

“There may be face-to-face interventions … that could be replicated via other technologies, and we welcome such replications, as appropriate,” according to Schneider’s introduction to the description with the list of proposed interventions.

“I would very much like to see tech companies increase their footprint in our portfolio of investments,” said Schneider, in an emailed response to questions about the upcoming research. He emphasized that this is a research competition, and historically tech companies have partnered with university-based researchers or those from consulting companies such as RTI, SRI, or AIR to increase their chances of success.

Of the eligible research for replication, nine studies were funded under the IES’ National Center on Education Research and seven under the organization’s National Center for Special Education Research.

Among the contenders are studies that involved materials from Voyager Sopris Learning, ST Math from the MIND Research Institute and SRA Early Interventions in Reading from McGraw-Hill. Most of the interventions do not have a technology partner as part of the original research.

The RFA will be released “shortly,” and Schneider said the deadline will be near the end of August. A successful proposal will be “a strong and exciting project that can help better identify” for whom a specific intervention under study works, he said.

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