School districts throughout our nation continually invest substantial financial resources, time, energy and intellectual capital in their efforts to select and utilize interventions intended to produce positive outcomes for students and raise levels of achievement. In recent years, intervention investment decision-making has become increasingly impacted by a number of factors. These include:
- the proliferation of intervention options available to districts;
- the scarcity of funds to support these interventions; and
- the increased public policy demand for using evidence-based strategies to improve student learning.
This current state of affairs presents an important opportunity for school districts to more closely explore their intervention choices and to strengthen their capacity to effectively evaluate intervention impact on student learning.
This presentation is intended to serve as a launching point for a continuing dialog on the ways in which local school district grass root initiatives can be effectively designed to answer the fundamental question - How do we really know if we are getting an acceptable educational return on our intervention investments? The discussion begins with a presentation of the historical and current context for the pressing need to conduct locally designed and managed research on intervention investments. A fundamental question to be addressed in this discussion has to do with the extent to which there is precedent supporting a district’s need to move more aggressively in this direction. This is followed by a discussion about the resources and constraints requiring consideration in order to build and sustain district capacity to conduct “return on investment” research. Core issues including consensus building, time-management, the role of technology-based research tools, and the use of research designs are incorporated into this part of the discussion. Finally, considerations for moving ahead and helpful information resources are presented.