Current Work

OUR WORK IS NOT ONE-SIZE-FITS-ALL. RFA approaches each project with a customized strategy; we are deeply attuned to our partners’ information needs and we work closely with them to ensure that our deliverables and deadlines are useful and timely. Above all, we strive to ensure that our work is accessible, actionable, and contributes valuable information to our clients and to the larger field. Below is a brief description of each of our current projects.

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An Evaluation of Children’s Literacy Initiative’s Blueprint for Early Literacy

Research for Action is working with the Children’s Literacy Initiative to evaluate the impact of Blueprint for Early Literacy (Blueprint), a pre-kindergarten literacy curriculum supplement, on quality of instruction, teacher knowledge, and pre-K student language…

Comprehensive School Safety Initiative: Discipline in School Contexts

This 18-month, mixed-methods, exploratory study, conducted in partnership with the Consortium for Policy Research in Education, will have three phases: 1) Qualitative inquiry across K-8 schools in Philadelphia; 2) Latent class analysis to identify “profiles”…

Community Schools Progress Report

Research for Action (RFA) is working in partnership with the Philadelphia Mayor’s Office of Education to establish and maintain a Community Schools Progress Report to be utilized as Philadelphia rolls out its Community Schools initiative.…

Early Literacy Instruction and Pre-K Curriculum in Philadelphia

This study is a two-year initiative to provide early childhood programs in Philadelphia information about what is working in their classrooms to support children’s early literacy and language development.  The research explores the links between…

Examining Gaps Between State Child Care Subsidy Reimbursement Rates and the Cost of Quality Early Education

Early education providers who serve predominantly low-income communities rely heavily on state child care subsidy reimbursements to sustain their operations. With reimbursement rates frozen since 2007, many have struggled to compensate and retain staff, invest…

Evaluating the Reimagine Learning Initiative for New Profit, Inc.

RFA is conducting a formative evaluation of New Profit’s Reimagine Learning initiative, which was developed to support schools and communities in creating learning environments that serve the needs of all students by providing supports for…

Examining Credit Transfer from Juvenile Justice Facilities to the School District of Philadelphia

As juveniles transition out of disciplinary facilities, it’s critically important to ensure that they receive credit for any school work they’ve completed.  RFA recently received support from the Pennsylvania Department of Education to examine the…

Evaluating Women in Natural Sciences for the Academy of Natural Sciences

RFA is serving as the evaluator for the Academy of Natural Sciences (ANS) Women in Natural Sciences (WINS) project. Since its inception in 1982, WINS has introduced more than 770 Philadelphia girls to careers in…

Evaluating the Philadelphia Academies’ All-Academy High School Model

Research for Action is partnering with Philadelphia Academies, Inc. (PAI) to evaluate the All-Academy model in two Philadelphia public high schools. PAI has served as a high school, postsecondary, and career readiness resource for nearly…

Improving Early Literacy: An Evaluation of Early Reading Matters

RFA is studying the effectiveness of the Early Reading Matters program. This initiative, which is operating in eight NYC public schools, is designed to provide professional development for teachers to improve the quality of early…

Providing Technical Assistance on ELL Policy to the Pennsylvania Department of Education: A Project of the Mid-Atlantic REL

RFA is conducting an analysis of English Language Learner policy and practice in Pennsylvania. Our work will consist of a statewide policy scan and multiple district-level case studies of best practice.

Providing Policy Guidance and Support to Increase Student Success in Higher Education

RFA is partnering with postsecondary institutions in five states to improve the state policy context and conditions necessary to improve student retention and graduation.  This two-year project includes state-level policy scans, as well as assessments…

Examining a Math Intervention in Philadelphia Schools: An RCT in Partnership with RAND

RFA is partnering with RAND to conduct an RCT on a math intervention in nine Philadelphia high schools. The math intervention, ALEKS, is a web-based intelligent tutoring system being used in 20 Algebra I classrooms…

STEM Training for Philadelphia Teachers: An Evaluation Funded by the National Science Foundation

RFA serves as the external evaluator for the GRASP-Teacher Partnership in Robotics Education (TPRE) project funded by the National Science Foundation. TPRE provides 6th-8th grade Philadelphia teachers a six-week summer engineering and robotics research experience…

Integrative Arts Programs in Philadelphia: An Examination of Philadelphia’s Mural Arts Program in Four Public Schools

RFA serves as the evaluator of an arts integration initiative launched by Philadelphia’s nationally-renowned Mural Arts Program. This two-year, mixed-methods study will identify successes, challenges and lessons learned as this initiative is implemented in four…

An Evaluation of Delaware’s Teacher Evaluation System

RFA is evaluating Delaware’s teacher evaluation system, known as the Delaware Performance Appraisal System (DPAS-II). RFA’s mixed-methods study consists of examinations of the system’s implementation and related outcomes. Data is drawn from a statewide survey…

When the Maker Movement Meets STEAM: Evaluating Maker Jawn in Philadelphia’s Free Library

RFA is evaluating the Free Library of Philadelphia’s intergenerational STEAM initiative. This program provides creative spaces for community members in libraries in underserved neighborhoods of North Philadelphia.

The Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program: Effects on Traditional and Incarcerated Students

RFA is conducting a preliminary evaluation of the Inside-Out Prison Exchange program, housed at Temple University. For over a decade, Inside-Out has been training university faculty to teach courses within adult correctional facilities across the…

The Education Justice Network

The Education Justice Network (EJN) is a consortium of nationally-recognized research, advocacy and policy scholars and organizations. EJN seeks to improve children’s access to high-quality education by advancing evidence-based reform models that provide alternatives to…

Artwell’s HeartBeat Program: An Evaluation of an Elementary School Music Education Initiative

RFA serves as the evaluator for this program that provides weekly music education programming to K-5 students in Philadelphia public schools.

Expanding the Knowledge Base on State-Level Postsecondary Outcomes-Based Funding

RFA is conducting a comprehensive analysis of state-level postsecondary Outcomes-Based Funding policy in three states. This mixed-methods evaluation includes a policy analysis to develop a nuanced picture of the parameters of OBF in each state;…

The Philadelphia Education Research Consortium (PERC)

The Philadelphia Education Research Consortium—or PERC—was launched in August 2014 as an innovative partnership designed to provide research and analyses on some of the city’s most pressing education issues. This partnership was forged among the…

Career and Technical Training in Juvenile Justice Facilities: Increasing the Capacity of a Statewide Network to Make Evidence-Based Decisions

RFA is engaged in a partnership with the Pennsylvania Academic Career and Technical Training Alliance (PACTT) to support its efforts to develop a data collection system for PACTT facilities. PACTT is a voluntary network of…

Providing Technical Assistance to the New Jersey Department of Education

The Mid-Atlantic Comprehensive Center (MACC) is a federally-funded organization housed at WestEd that provides technical assistance to states as they work to improve and reform public schools. As a MACC partner, RFA works with the…

Examining Extended Learning Opportunities in New Hampshire: A Statewide Evaluation

RFA is conducting a two-year, mixed-methods study of New Hampshire’s extended learning opportunities (ELO) initiative. Funded by the Nellie Mae Educational Foundation, this study focuses on assessing the implementation and effectiveness of ELO on college…

After-School Arts Programming in the Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs of America: A Mixed-Methods Evaluation

RFA has partnered with McClanahan and Associates, Inc. to conduct a five-year mixed-methods evaluation of after-school arts programming in Boys & Girls Clubs funded by the Wallace Foundation. Our work provides actionable, formative feedback to…

Using Common Assignments to Strengthen Teaching and Learning

The Common Assignment Study (CAS) is a three-year effort being led by the Colorado Education Initiative and the Fund for Transforming Education in Kentucky, with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The initiative…

Examining Reforms in Postsecondary Student Placement Policies

For several years, RFA has been examining how postsecondary systems and institutions have reformed their approach to student placement in first-year classes. Until recently it was common practice to place students based on a cut…

Examining Assessment and Placement Exam Reforms in Community Colleges

Given the barrier that developmental education can present in students' timely progress to degree completion, RFA is examining assessment and placement reform efforts across five states--California, Florida, North Carolina, Texas, and Virginia--and the implementation of…

Tracking the Implementation and Success of Academically-Oriented After-School Programs: 21st Century Grants

The 21st Century grant program of the U.S. Department of Education supports the creation of community learning centers that provide academic enrichment opportunities during non-school hours for students who attend high-poverty and low-performing schools. RFA…

Amplifying Success Through Intermediaries: An Evaluation of the Role of New Profit, Inc. in Supporting National College Access and Success Organizations

RFA is conducting a multi-year evaluation of New Profit’s federal Social Innovation Fund grant. Through it, New Profit serves as an intermediary for six national college access and success organizations, including: YouthBuild; Single Stop; Year…

Evaluating Project L.I.F.T.: A Cross-Sector Effort to Close the Achievement Gap

In 2012, RFA began a five-year, mixed methods study of Project L.I.F.T. (Leadership and Investment for Transformation), a philanthropic initiative designed to close the achievement gap in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District (CMS). Focusing on the…

After-School Science Programming in West Virginia: An Evaluation Funded by the National Science Foundation

Since 2011, The National Science Foundation-funded project, SCI TALKS: Supporting Community Initiatives for Teaching, Learning and Knowing Science, has provided 247 at-risk West Virginia youth with innovative, engaging and meaningful after-school science taught by elementary…

The Pennsylvania Clearinghouse for Education Research: Translating Research and Analysis for Education Policymakers

The Pennsylvania Clearinghouse for Education Research–or PACER–is designed to inform state education policy discussions through rigorous, objective research; regular policy briefs; and research-based commentaries in leading media outlets statewide.

Examining the Implementation, Scale Up, and Sustainability of Teacher-Developed Formative Assessment Tools Aligned to the CCSS: A National Study

For the past several years, RFA has conducted a national, multi-site examination of the implementation and effectiveness of teacher-developed formative assessment tools aligned to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Funded by the Bill and…

Publications of General Interest

RFA occasionally publishes work on varied topics of general interest that do not fall under one project or area of focus.