The Education Endowment Foundation in the UK has published an evaluation of Research Leads Improving Students' Education (RISE). The program, which was developed and delivered by Huntington School in York, aimed to improve the math and English achievement of students in high school using a research-informed school improvement model.
Forty UK schools took part in the randomized controlled trial and were randomly allocated to either take part in RISE or to a control group which continued with business as usual. Schools participating in RISE appointed a senior teacher as a Research Lead who was responsible for promoting and supporting the use of research throughout the school.Support for Research Leads included an initial eight professional development sessions held over eight months, occasional follow-up meetings over two academic years, a customized email newsletter, a website with resources, a peer network, and school visits by the RISE team. The RISE team also provided a workshop for principals and annual workshops for English and math subject leads.
The evaluation examined the impact on students in two cohorts: in the first cohort (A) the school was only exposed to one year of RISE, while in the second cohort (B) the school experienced two years of the intervention. For both the one-year and two-year cohorts, children in RISE schools made a small amount of additional progress in math (effect size = +0.09 for cohort A and +0.04 for cohort B) and English (effect size = +0.05 for cohort A and +0.03 for cohort B) compared to children in the control-group schools. However, the differences were small and not significant, so the evaluation concludes that there is no evidence that participating in one or two years of the RISE program has a positive impact on student achievement.
In addition, the evaluation highlights the importance of schools' ability and motivation to make use of the research lead in shaping school improvement decisions and processes. For example, it suggests that implementation was stronger when principals gave clear and visible support for the project and research leads had additional dedicated time to undertake the role.