Over the last seven years, the Obama Administration and the Department of Education have pioneered efforts that encourage grantees and practitioners to use evidence of what works in education in ways that can improve student outcomes. A focus on evidence and data also can be a powerful tool to advance equity.
For example, under our new federal education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), states will establish new accountability systems that will include indicators of success that reflect a broad picture of how schools are serving all children, and not just in academics. States could decide to look at information about students’ socioemotional growth, for instance, and whether schools are helping children develop skills like resilience and the ability to effectively collaborate with peers. States also could examine data and trends related to chronic absenteeism, and ensure schools are intervening when students are missing too much class time. Educators could analyze students’ academic achievement and better target supports that may help struggling students to master certain skills or become proficient in English. The use of robust information can be leveraged by teachers, local educational agencies, and states to advance equity and excellence throughout our education system.
Both the Administration and the Department have made evidence-based grant programs, such as Investing in Innovation (i3) and First in the World (FITW), a priority and have significantly scaled up the use of evidence-based grant-making. In close partnership with the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), grantees and researchers are working together to draw from—and expand—the body of high-quality research about promising practices and proven strategies in education so that schools, districts, and states can leverage this information in their decision making.
The 2017 budget would support states and local educational agencies both with their use of data and evidence on what works—from research studies and evaluations. For example, funds for IES would be used to improve data-informed decision making at all levels by increasing resources dedicated to research awards that build the evidence base for what works in education.
The priority projects outlined in the budget also would increase data transparency. A great example of this work is the College Scorecard, which was launched in September 2015. The College Scorecard provides students, parents, and the public with unprecedented amounts of information about college costs, financial aid, and graduation rates at colleges and universities—all in one place.
Finally, the budget would strengthen the ways in which the Department shares research and information so that everyone—from educators and students, to policymakers and administrators, to schools and communities—can have greater access to the data and research they need, in digestible formats, to inform everyday decisions.
Here is a quick snapshot of how the 2017 budget invests in evidence and data, across three priority areas:
Increasing Equity and Excellence in Education:
- $180 million for the Education Innovation and Research program, an increase of $60 million, or 50 percent, for the successor to the Investing in Innovation (i3) program to expand support for evidence-based initiatives to develop, validate, and scale up effective education interventions that will help states and local educational agencies to meet requirements under federal law.
- $44.3 million for IDEA Technical Assistance and Dissemination, an increase of $10 million, to substantially increase the Administration’s investment in model demonstration projects to build the evidence-base for promising practices in critical areas such as interventions for students with autism who require intensive services and support.
Providing Support for Teachers and School Leaders:
- $100 million for the reauthorized Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED) program, an increase of $6 million over the comparable 2016 level, to expand support for state and local efforts to improve teacher and principal effectiveness and help ensure that all students have equitable access to effective teachers and principals. The program would make grants primarily to institutions of higher education and national nonprofit organizations for projects that provide evidence-based professional development activities and prepare teachers and principals from nontraditional preparation and certification routes to serve in high-need local educational agencies.
Expanding Access, Affordability, and Completion in Higher Education:
- $100 million for the First in the World program for competitive awards to support the development, validation, and scale-up of innovative, promising, and evidence-based strategies to improve postsecondary completion rates for high-needs students, as well as rigorous evaluations to test the effectiveness of these strategies when implemented in varied settings and contexts. The Obama Administration plans to set aside up to $30 million to support the implementation of projects at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs).
- $30 million for the HBCU and MSI Innovation for Completion Fund, a new competitive grant program to foster innovative, evidence-based, student-centered strategies and interventions to increase the number of low-income students and students of color completing degree programs.
- Of the $900 million included for TRIO in the budget, up to $20 million would be used to support a new TRIO Demonstration initiative designed to give existing grantees the opportunity to compete for increased funding to implement and evaluate additional, evidence‑based, college access and success strategies, and support dissemination of strategies that prove to be effective at scale to all TRIO grantees.
The budget also includes support for InformED, an initiative launched in 2016, that builds on the success of the new College Scorecard by making the Department’s data and research across the education spectrum more available—and actionable—for internal users and the public. The 2017 budget includes $15 million to support InformED to build new infrastructure to manage the collection, quality, release, and analysis of data in innovative and effective ways.
For more information about the 2017 budget, visit our webpage.
Tiffany Taber is Chief of Staff for Communications Development in the Office of Communications and Outreach at the U.S. Department of Education.