Plus Alpha staff members have over a century of combined experience working to improve educational systems through research and analysis and providing consultative technical assistance.
Project ExcEL (Excellence for English Language Learners) is a UCLA Center X Northeast Region project funded through the Office of Innovation and Improvement, Investing in Innovation (i3) development grant. Plus Alpha is the external evaluator. The impact evaluation features a quasi-experimental design that uses state-wide data to create a matched comparison group and an interrupted-time-series analysis with comparison to meet WWC standards. The year 1 evaluation report contains findings and recommendations based on the implementation study and details regarding the impact study methodology and baseline equivalence testing.
The Office of Innovation and Improvement funds the Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED) Building Effective Evidence project. Plus Alpha staff lead the analytic technical assistance, supporting 13 SEED grantees providing teacher professional development and their evaluators as they conduct large-scale, experimental and quasi-experimental studies that meet WWC standards. In addition to the core analytic technical assistance, Plus Alpha also creates new evaluation resources to promote and support rigorous evaluations of teacher effectiveness and coordinates annual conferences.
The Leadership Development Committee Chair of the National Career Pathways Network (NCPN) contacted Plus Alpha to request a webinar series as part of the NCPN’s Leadership Development Academy professional development program. The resulting efforts focused on how Career & Technical Education (CTE) leaders can use readily available accountability data to conduct program improvement cycles and conduct Return on Investment (ROI) analyses. The webinar features a step-by-step process with tools for each step to help CTE leaders use their data for program improvement.
Plus Alpha staff used a method of clustering demographically-similar schools based on school-level data from all Virginia public schools to aid in state-led school improvement efforts. We conducted the study in collaboration with the Virginia Department of Education Office of School Improvement and resulted in the Statistical Peer Groups: Creating Demographically Similar Peer Groups of Schools to Aid School Improvement Efforts presentation. Following the release of findings from the statistical peer groups work, the Virginia School Board Association’s Task Force on Schools in Challenging Environments held the Practices of Promise for Schools in Challenging Environments Summit on December 11, 2014. Dr. Shelley Loving-Rider, Assistant Superintendent of the Division of Student Assessment & School Improvement at the Virginia Department of Education, presented on Plus Alpha’s Statistical Peer Groups work during the Summit. The video and presentation are both available.
Plus Alpha worked closely with the Project ExcEL (Excellence for English Language Learners) developer, UCLA’s Center X Northeast, to design a Fidelity of Implementation study flexible enough to follow the development of the (Office of Innovation and Improvement, Investing in Innovation-funded) project while specific enough to detail the implementation of the project. This fidelity of implementation study ensures that future large-scale rollouts of Project ExcEL can be implemented with fidelity to the original intervention as developed. Further details regarding Project ExcEL are available in the appendix of the project report.
Team Kids is a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering children through youth-led school- and community-based service programs. Plus Alpha staff have partnered with the founder and research staff to create a research base for their program, including developing a logic model, aligning data collection tools and protocols to key components and outcomes, and creating a Fidelity Index to ensure Team Kids grows their model nationally with fidelity of implementation.
The United States Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences commissioned the development of a series of three topical research compendia of federally-funded education research projects designed to present information in a structured, accessible, and usable manner. Plus Alpha designed these compendia in partnership with Westat: A Compendium of Education Technology Research, A Compendium of Math and Science Research, and A Compendium of Social-Behavioral Research. The compendia are structured into sections and chapters relevant to educational practitioners, policymakers, and leaders and feature extensive indices and appendices as well.
Plus Alpha worked with HCM Strategists to design and conduct an NCLB/ESEA state waiver policy scan as a guide to the state waiver policy landscape. Plus Alpha conducted a thorough review and analysis of 43 state waivers and an in-depth analysis of school performance in two states. HCM Strategists used the resulting Plus Alpha report to inform partners and aid internal decision making.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation contracted with Plus Alpha to conduct a policy scan of states selected by the foundation to discern state policy environment factors relevant to college readiness. Plus Alpha interviewed 16 state policy insiders and reviewed and coded state education policy papers and state legislation. Gates Foundation staff used the policy scan to aid internal decision making and strategic planning around college readiness.