ICF Education Research and Evaluation

Education Research + Evaluation

ICF International provides research and evaluation of education programs and strategies, from student achievement and dropout prevention to teacher recruitment and retention.



ICF goes well beyond basic research and evaluation, working with government agencies and nonprofits to build more effective education programs based on a solid foundation of reliable findings. We excel at helping educators transform research into action by distilling data and findings into pragmatic, evidence-based recommendations for teachers and administrators that can produce positive outcomes for students.

ICF’s research and evaluation work has addressed may of the most important issues in education, including student achievement, dropout prevention, underperforming schools, child care, literacy, health concerns, drug use, and teacher recruitment and retention. Our research and evaluation is tailor-made for each client’s questions and objectives. We use a range of proven research and evaluation methods, including:

  • Case studies
  • Surveys
  • Focus groups
  • Quasi-experimental studies
  • Randomized control trials

By combining proficiency in research and evaluation with skill in training and technical assistance, ICF provides clients with best practices from research literature, solid insights, and sensible applications they need to turn research into practice. The trusted relationships we’ve formed with experienced administrators and teachers in the field allow us to disseminate information and recommendations effectively.


Featured Resources

  • Child assessment—ICF has extensive experience in early childhood assessment, including psychometrics (norming, reliability, and validity), administration and training, and scoring. Our staff brings comprehensive knowledge of standardized and observational child assessments in language, literacy, math, socio-emotional areas, learning, and health. ICF uses these data for continuous program improvement through training and technical assistance.
  • Implementation evaluation—ICF’s purpose in evaluation research is not only to understand whether a practice works, but also how it works, why it works, and in what situations it works. Our analysts have developed innovative methods of measuring implementation fidelity, service dosage, and service quality through a mix of qualitative and quantitative approaches. As a result, ICF can provide practical and actionable answers to complex research questions.
  • Needs assessment—ICF partners with educators to understand their needs—including context and history—to build capacity and design responsive research, interventions, and products. Every ICF project is individually tailored to maximize client return on investment. Needs assessments across a number of clients may also identify common problems amenable to cost-effective solutions that serve many.
  • Quasi-experimental designs (QEDs)—ICF’s methodologists and analysts have proven experience in developing creative approaches to studying programs and practices. We have developed post-hoc comparison groups using propensity score matching techniques and have made extensive use of archival data to develop highly rigorous studies that also meet the practical needs of our clients.
  • Randomized controlled trials (RCTs)—ICF has completed numerous RCTs, widely considered the gold standard in research. Our experienced managers and analysts have a proven record of success in all aspects of the study process, including subject recruitment, buy-in for evaluation activities, human subject protections, data collection, and data analysis.
  • Research support—ICF has experience in all facets of the research process and specializes in building evaluation capacity among clients and partners. Through such varied activities as conducting grant reviews, developing data coordinating centers, developing research-to-practice dissemination strategies, and designing research conferences, ICF provides clients with a road map to engage in data-driven decision making.
  • Research synthesis—ICF is experienced not only in developing highly rigorous research projects, but in making the most of existing research. ICF analysts develop evidence standards and conduct reviews to identify best practices in dropout prevention and other education topics. ICF's team includes coders certified by the What Works Clearinghouse, as well as experts in the dissemination of best practices.
  • Communities in Schools (CIS)
  • State of Ohio
  • State of New Jersey
  • Texas Education Agency (TEA)
  • The White House
    • Office of National Drug Control Policy
  • U.S. Department of Education (ED)
    • Institute of Education Sciences (IES) 
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
    • Office of Head Start
    • Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE)
  • U.S. Navy
    • Commander, Navy Installations Command (CNIC)
  • West Virginia Community and Technical College System
  • Project

    New Jersey Math Science Partnership Evaluation

    ICF and its partners conducted the program evaluation of New Jersey’s Mathematics and Science Partnership program, assisting New Jersey’s Department of Education (ED) to increase the academic achievement of students in mathematics and science by enhancing the content knowledge and teaching skills of their classroom teachers. Ultimately the evaluation contributed to the U.S. Department of Education’s research on the impact of various professional development strategies on student achievement.

  • Project

    Evaluation of the High School Success Pilot Programs (HSSPP)

    ICF conducted a formative and summative evaluation of three discretionary grant programs focused on dropout prevention to assess their implementation, effectiveness, and cost-effectiveness. This work highlights ICF’s expertise in designing quasi-experimental studies using a mixed-methods approach to measure the impact of program activities on student and teacher outcomes.

  • Project

    Navy Child Placement/Resource and Referral Analysis

    ICF International was selected by the U.S. Navy to conduct an in-depth analysis of the child placement Resource and Referral and Central Waiting List services across worldwide Navy Child and Youth Programs (CYP). Navy CYP programs provide developmental child care and youth recreational programs and services for eligible children and youth ages 4 weeks to 18 years of age.

  • Project

    Beginning Teacher Induction Mentoring Program

    The ICF team employed a mixed-methods design to evaluate the Beginning Teacher Induction and Mentoring (BTIM) program, authorized and funded by the Texas Legislature in 2006 to increase retention of beginning teachers. ICF conducted both quantitative data collection and analyses (e.g., protégé, mentor, and administrator surveys, propensity score matching, and student outcomes) and qualitative data collection and analyses (i.e., case studies focusing on specific schools).

  • Project

    Head Start Research Conferences

    Since 2008, ICF International has planned and managed the 10th (2010) and 11th (2012) biennial Head Start national research conferences.

  • Project

    Navy Child and Youth Program Task Force

    ICF operated a Child and Youth Program (CYP) Task Force for the Commander, Navy Installations Command. The Task Force identified space requirements among child care facilities and programs, assessed implementation of the established management standards at CY programs and the need for additional child care availability, and developed a description of youth programming.

  • Project

    Head Start Training and Technical Assistance Center (HSTTAC) Contracts

    Under contract with the Office of Head Start, Administration for Children and Families, ICF provides training and technical assistance (TTA) support in 21 states across four federal regions to Head Start and Early Head Start grantees.

  • Project

    Five-Year Evaluation of Communities in Schools (CIS)

    The Atlantic Philanthropies funded CIS National and ICF to conduct a five-year, multi-site, mixed-method evaluation of Communities in School, a nationwide initiative that surrounds students with a community of support to empower them to stay in school and achieve in life.

  • Project

    Diplomas Now

    ICF is part of the evaluation team conducting a multi-year, school-level, randomized controlled trial study and implementation study of Diplomas Now— a U.S. Department of Education-funded school improvement intervention that is aimed at ensuring students graduate from high school prepared for college success. ICF is conducting approximately 20,000 baseline and end-of-year student surveys, online principal and teacher surveys, and case studies in 10-12 schools.

  • Project

    Drug Free Communities National Evaluation

    Since 2009, ICF has served as the national evaluator for the Drug Free Communities (DFC) Support Program, which is administered by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) in partnership with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). ICF is tasked with measuring the impact of 718 community coalitions in reducing substance use and related consequences.

  • Project

    Head Start, Early Head Start, Child Care Research Support

    ICF International assists the Office of Planning, Research & Evaluation (OPRE) in setting the direction for research across early childhood education (ECE) sectors.

Contact Info

info [at] icfi [dot] com

+1.703.934.3603 or +1.800.532.4783

9300 Lee Highway, Fairfax, VA 22031-1207 USA

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