Researchers play a critical role in the evaluation of programs across the country that are using technology in early learning initiatives. The small proportion of programs that submitted evidence of impact for our survey highlights a growing need for researchers to assess the impact that these programs are having. Funding is also needed to support the programs and their subsequent evaluation. This work is not only vital in order to improve existing programs and document successful ones, but also to be able to scale up those effective programs for more impact.
One type of award that is available to support this work is Researcher-Practitioner Partnerships in Education Research through the Institute of Education Sciences. Another funding source to support work in the STEM disciplines is Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings (Division of Research on Learning) through the National Science Foundation.
As our survey found, the majority of programs rely on support through philanthropy or the federal government. Programs use their money to support staff, purchase technology conduct outreach, and distribute resources directly to families. A few programs told us that they use funding to train staff on how to evaluate their program, and some of the larger programs said they were investing funds in expansion by conducting pilots in other locations.