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There is a growing understanding that there are some inherent limitations in using p-values to guide decisions about programs and policies. Bayesian methods are emerging as the primary alternative to p-values and offer a number of advantages...

This report examines families’ access to early care and education using a definition of access that examines whether parents, with reasonable effort and affordability, can enroll their child in care that supports child development and meets parents’ needs.


This manual is designed to provide you with guidelines for planning and implementing a program evaluation. Each of the chapters addresses specific steps in the evaluation process and provides guidance on how to tailor an evaluation...

Social service program stakeholders need timely evidence to inform ongoing program decisions. Rapid learning methods, defined here as a set of approaches designed to quickly and/or iteratively test program improvements and evaluate program implementation or impact, can help inform such decisions. However, stakeholders may be unsure which rapid learning methods are most appropriate for a program’s specific challenges and how to best apply the methods. Additionally, they may be unsure how to cultivate a culture of continuous, iterative learning.

Bayesian methods are emerging as the primary alternative to the conventional frequentist approach to statistical inference. This brief provides an overview of the Bayesian perspective and highlights potential advantages of Bayesian inference over frequentist inference. In light of the increasing value and viability of Bayesian methods to contemporary...

This literature review attempts to identify lessons that ACF and its grantees may be able to apply to evaluations of community-change work from both the conceptual literature on measuring community-level change as well as from the empirical approach specific community-level initiatives have taken to evaluating their efforts.  To draw out these lessons, this review begins by providing an overview of the methodological challenges community-level initiatives pose for assessing causal impacts. It then highlights some key lessons gleaned from recent evaluations of community-level change efforts.

Federally funded systematic reviews of research evidence play a central role in efforts to base policy decisions on evidence. Historically, evidence reviews have reserved the highest ratings of quality for studies that employ experimental designs, namely randomized control trials (RCTs). However, RCTs are not appropriate for evaluating all intervention programs. To develop an evidence base for those programs, evaluators may need to use non-experimental study designs.

This brief has two main goals:

  • Describe the features of a well-designed and implemented subgroup analysis that uses a multiple regression framework.
  • Provide an overview of recent methodological developments and alternative approaches to conducting subgroup analyses.

The brief builds on a 2009 meeting of experts Visit disclaimer page convened by the Administration for Children and Families’ Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation and a corresponding 2012 publication in a special issue of Prevention Science Visit disclaimer page (MacKinnon, Supplee, Kelly, & Barofsky, 2012).

RCE may help Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) awardees test program changes quickly and rigorously. The purpose of this brief is to introduce MIECHV awardees to RCE and its potential use in their programs.

For nearly 100 years, the null hypothesis significance testing (NHST) framework has been used to determine which findings are meaningful (Fisher 1925; Neyman and Pearson 1933). Under this framework, findings deemed meaningful are called “statistically significant.”  But the meaning of statistical significance is often...