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ERIC Number: ED562707
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2014
Pages: 12
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 12
Challenges When Using the Regression Discontinuity Design in Educational Evaluations: Lessons from the Transition to Algebra Study
Louie, Josephine; Rhoads, Christopher; Mark, June
Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness
Recent federal legislation, such as the "No Child Left Behind Act" of 2001 and the "Education Sciences Reform Act (ESRA)" of 2002, has insisted that educational evaluations use rigorous research designs with quantitative outcome measures. In particular, the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) at the U.S. Department of Education has promoted the use of "randomized controlled trials" (RCTs) as the preferred method for educational evaluations that seek to determine the causal effect of interventions. This paper describes a regression discontinuity (RD) study conducted to evaluate the impact of Transition to Algebra (TTA)--a supplemental algebra-readiness curriculum. The TTA curriculum was developed over a period of two years and then evaluated through a formal field test in two Massachusetts high schools in 2011-2012. Outcome data was collected from 85 students who had been properly assigned to the TTA intervention (the "core" treatment group); 9 students who were eligible for the intervention but had been randomly excluded (the "core RCT" comparison group); and 27 students who were ineligible for the TTA intervention due to high Grade 8 Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS8) scores (the "core RD" comparison group). Outcomes were measured using a modified version of the MCAS test, labeled MCASmod. The research team's experience offers lessons about the implementation of RD studies and the need to work closely with practitioner partners to carry out evaluation designs that address both stakeholder concerns and broader goals of generating rigorous evidence to learn what works in education. Tables and figures are appended.
Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness. 2040 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208. Tel: 202-495-0920; Fax: 202-640-4401; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Secondary Education; Grade 9; Junior High Schools; Middle Schools; High Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness (SREE)
Identifiers - Location: Massachusetts
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System