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What's the Plan for Examining Whether Investing in Innovation Worked?

The Obama administration's signature Investing in Innovation program, which helped districts scale up promising practices, was supposed to be all about helping pinpoint evidence-based strategies that would actually move the needle on student achievement.

But how well did i3 itself work? Should Congress keep the i3 program going after the Obama administration has left office?

Some of those questions may be answered, at least in part, in a forthcoming broad look at the i3 program that is getting a shout-out in tomorrow's federal register. (Specifically, the administration is looking for wonky feedback on some of the mechanics of its evaluation plan.)

This isn't the only close look at the i3 programs that's slated to come down the pike. Each individual i3 grantee was required to finance its own individual evaluation—that was part of the agreement for participating in the program.

The goal of the national evaluation, which is outlined in further detail here, is to look across all of the i3 grantees and figure out what the big takeaways are for the program as a whole. This national evaluation will closely examine the strength of the actual evidence of program effectiveness produced by each i3 grantee and come up with some overall lessons for the preK through 12 field. Researchers will look primarily at the first cohort of the program, which was financed through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, aka the stimulus.

As with Race to the Top, the answers will come out pretty late in the game. The administration has pushed for round after round of i3 and even fought for the programs survival. But we won't really begin to get a good sense of the programs' effectiveness until 2015.

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