The Institute of Education Sciences invites intervention providers to submit proposals for innovative interventions that could significantly improve student achievement in science.
The Institute of Education Sciences seeks interventions to significantly improve science outcomes for middle school students with low performance in science. Interventions may be digital, non-digital, or hybrid and designed for implementation at school or in out-of-school-time programs.
The Science Prize is one of two challenges that comprise the IES Learning Acceleration Challenges. Please visit the Math Prize page on Challenge.gov for more information regarding the other challenge. Luminary Labs is running these challenges with support from NWEA as the evaluation partner and from Abt Associates as a technical assistance partner.
Mastering foundational science competencies in middle school is crucial for future learning as well as to navigate an increasingly technological world. Even before 2020, many American students — particularly students with disabilities and other students historically underserved by educational systems — faced barriers to attaining these skills. Now, with three school years already impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for evidence-based interventions to improve student outcomes is greater than ever.
In 2019, over 33% of students in eighth grade — including 58% of Black students, 47% of Hispanic students, and 65% of students with disabilities — performed Below NAEP Basic in science. This achievement gap widens by the end of high school, with over 40% of all 12th graders performing Below NAEP Basic — including almost 70% of Black students, over half of Hispanic students, and 75% of students with disabilities. This highlights the need to intervene early to ensure all students can meet science benchmarks before graduation.
The challenge will be conducted in two phases.
Phase 1: Intervention design
In Phase 1, intervention providers will be invited to submit proposals for interventions to significantly improve science outcomes for middle school students with low performance in science. Interventions may be digital, non-digital, or hybrid and designed for implementation at school or in out-of-school-time programs. Refer to the rules section for more information on the intervention focus and eligible students. Existing federal grantees are eligible to apply but will need to disclose this in their submission. Please refer to the FAQs for more information.
All potential entrants will have access to technical assistance, such as guiding documents on key topics (e.g., randomized controlled trials and data collection), topic-specific webinars, and virtual office hours with subject matter experts.
Eligible submissions will be evaluated by a panel of judges. Up to five finalists will be selected to participate in Phase 2 and implement their proposed interventions in schools and out-of-school-time programs.
Key dates and milestones include:
Phase 1 submissions open: Thursday, August 4, 2022
Intervention providers are invited to submit proposals for interventions that could be implemented in schools between November 2022 and April 2023.
As part of their Phase 1 submissions, entrants will need to secure commitments from a sufficient number of partner schools and out-of-school-time programs participating, if applicable. A sufficient number of schools is that which will likely be able to detect a statistically significant positive effect of the intervention. See the resources section for more information on effect sizes. The number of schools and/or classes needed will depend on the design and implementation of the intervention. See the Guide to RCTs for Intervention Providers for more information.
To demonstrate these commitments, entrants will be required to submit signed letters from districts or charter/private school networks with their submissions. These letters will document their willingness to participate in the required activities, as outlined in the entrant’s implementation plan — including supporting random assignment, student-level and school-level data sharing, student completion of NWEA® MAP™ Growth science assessment in fall 2022 and spring 2023, and any staff training. Entrants will also need to provide acknowledgement from each participating school within the district or network. See how to enter for more information.
Eligible students at partner schools will need to complete the NWEA MAP Growth science assessment in fall 2022 (by November 1, 2022) and again in spring 2023 (by May 1, 2023). Entrants must use an assessment listed on the list of acceptable NWEA assessments.
Entrants that need help identifying schools and/or school systems that already implement NWEA MAP Growth assessments, should contact IES[email protected]. For more information, please refer to FAQ.
See the how to enter for more information on what is required for the Phase 1 submission.
Virtual information session: Wednesday, August 17, 2022 at 2:00 p.m. ET
Luminary Labs and IES hosted an informational webinar to share more about the Learning Acceleration Challenges. View the virtual information session recording.
Randomized controlled trials and cost analysis webinars: Late August 2022
Luminary Labs and IES hosted two webinars with subject matter experts to support potential entrants prepare their Phase 1 submissions:
Setting up a randomized controlled trial. View the setting up a randomized controlled trial webinar recording.
Cost analysis and implementation planning: View the cost analysis and implementation planning webinar recording.
Office hours: September 2022
Luminary Labs and IES hosted four virtual office hours with subject matter experts. These sessions were an opportunity to ask specific questions about topics such as random assignment, implementation planning, and data collection for the cost analysis:
Dr. Andrew McEachin, Director, Collaborative for Student Growth, NWEA. View the recording.
Dr. Sivan Tuchman, Founder, Datability. View the recording.
Dr. David Knight, Assistant Professor, Educational Foundations, Leadership & Policy, University of Washington. Recording will be available soon.
Dr. Kiera Brodsky Chase, Director, Instructional Design and Research, ConnectED. Recording will be available soon.
Please contact the challenge team at [email protected] to request accommodations at least seven calendar days before the event. All sessions will be conducted via Zoom throughout the open submission period. Information on how to sign up and submit questions will be published shortly.
A recording and transcript of office hours will be available after each event.
Submissions close: September 30, 2022
Phase 1 submissions close on Friday, September 30, 2022 at 5:59 p.m. ET.
Finalists announced: November 2022
A judging panel will assess submissions against the Phase 1 criteria. Up to five finalists will be selected for Phase 2. Each finalist will receive $25,000.
Phase 2: Implementation and evaluation
In Phase 2, finalists will implement their interventions at partner schools or out-of-school time programs under routine conditions (see definition). The duration of interventions may vary, but they must be implemented between November 2022 and April 2023. Participating students will take the NWEA MAP Growth science assessment prior to the implementation period (before November 1, 2022) and again at the end of the implementation period (before May 1, 2023) to measure student growth in science.
NWEA will use these results, the student-level and school-level data shared as part of the Data Sharing Agreement, and cost data submitted by the finalists to prepare evaluation reports that describe the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of each intervention. These evaluation reports, along with finalists’ Phase 2 submissions, will be reviewed by a panel of judges against the Phase 2 selection criteria.
Key dates and milestones include:
Implementation period starts: November 2022
Finalists will need to ensure all participating students have completed the fall NWEA MAP Growth math assessment by November 1, 2022.
Prior to implementation, finalists will also be required to sign the Data Sharing Agreement and work with NWEA to randomly assign students to ensure a causal evaluation of the intervention. Once assignments are made, finalists will start implementing their interventions at their partner schools.
Finalists will have access to monthly support from Abt Associates subject matter experts as they implement their interventions and collect necessary data to support the causal evaluation.
Implementation period ends: April 2023
Finalists will need to ensure all participating students have completed the spring NWEA MAP Growth science assessment by May 1, 2023. Finalists will also need to support schools in submitting school-level and student-level data, as described in the Data Sharing Agreement, by May 8, 2023. For more information about the Data Sharing Agreement, please refer to the FAQ.
Phase 2 submissions due: June 2023
Finalists will complete Phase 2 submissions, which will include data on cost per student as well as information about how they implemented their intervention and how they plan to sustain and scale their intervention beyond the challenge.
Winners announced: September 2023
The judging panel will use the NWEA evaluation reports and finalist Phase 2 submissions to assess finalists against the Phase 2 criteria.
The challenge will award between $150,000 to $250,000 to a first-prize winner and at least $75,000 to a runner-up, as well as a single $500,000 grand prize if an intervention meets specific student growth thresholds. See prizes more for information.