Areas of Expertise
Evidence-Based Education Research
AIR applies rigorous standards to the review and synthesis of research to determine what approaches to education are based on high quality evidence. Our staff help set standards for the quality of impact studies, through the What Works Clearinghouse and Doing What Works, as well as other federal, foundation, and state projects. AIR also develops tools for analyzing data across studies and manages complex reviews.
The Race to the Top (RTTT) initiative, part of the larger federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, provided an unprecedented amount of federal competitive grant funding to push educational systems toward innovation through the use of coherent and comprehensive reforms. AIR is conducting a mixed-method evaluation for the state of Hawaii, examining the extent to which the state’s RTTT program has been implemented as planned and is meeting its key benchmarks, especially for RTTT resource usage and participation. AIR evaluators are analyzing which changes in policy and professional practice have been associated with implementation as well as the resulting impact on student performance. The evaluation is providing timely, actionable information, supporting continuous improvement and enabling RTTT leaders, participants, and stakeholders to judge the value and worth of the initiative and its components.
This report answers two basic sets of questions about children's knowledge and skill acquisition during the kindergarten year. What gains are children making from the fall of the kindergarten year to the spring of the kindergarten year in their overall reading and mathematics knowledge and skills? What gains are children making in specific knowledge and skills (e.g., recognizing letters, recognizing numbers)?
Wisconsin Culturally Responsive Education for All (CREATE) Initiative - Training and Enhancement Initiative
The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction contracted with AIR to provide a comprehensive evaluation of its Culturally Responsive Education for All: Training and Enhancement (CREATE) initiative during its first three years of implementation. AIR employed a qualitative case study design to assess program implementation and to determine the effect participation in the CREATE initiative had on districts’ capacities to provide culturally responsive education and to implement policies and practices designed to close achievement gaps and reduce disproportionality in special education.
AIR, along with its partners, has conducted the evaluation of the Texas Statewide 21st Century Community Learning Centers since 2007. This federal initiative, authorized by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, provides out-of-school-time opportunities for academic enrichment to help students meet state and local performance standards in core academic subjects. In addition to providing a comprehensive description of the implementation of the program across the state, the evaluation includes an achievement analysis examining the impact of program participation on student achievement and behavior.
The Wisconsin Reading Excellence and Demonstration of Success (READS) initiative was launched by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction in 1999–2000 in an effort to positively affect student reading achievement and reduce the number of referrals to special education in READS-funded schools through the implementation of comprehensive reading programs. This four-year comprehensive evaluation of the READS initiative includes both qualitative case studies and longitudinal analysis of student demographic and achievement data and special education referral rates.
As an alternative to the specified sanctions under the 2002 reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, known as the No Child Left Behind Act, for school districts that were cited as being in corrective action, the state of New York negotiated an audit of the written, taught, and tested curriculum for its districts in need of improvement. The audits conducted by AIR consist of a mixed method evaluation, including analysis of extant student performance data; district policy documents; classroom observations; and interviews and focus groups with teachers, principals, students, parents, and district officials.