Estimating unbiased treatment effects in education using a regression discontinuity design

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Abstract

The ability of regression discontinuity (RD) designs to provide an unbiased treatment effect while overcoming the ethical concerns plagued by Random Control Trials (RCTs) make it a valuable and useful approach in education evaluation. RD is the only explicitly recognized quasi-experimental approach identified by the Institute of Education Statistics to meet the prerequisites of a causal relationship. Unfortunately, the statistical complexity of the RD design has limited its application in education research. This article provides a less technical introduction to RD for education researchers and practitioners. Using visual analysis to aide conceptual understanding, the article walks readers through the essential steps of a Sharp RD design using hypothetical, but realistic, district intervention data and provides additional resources for further exploration.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPractical Assessment, Research and Evaluation
Volume19
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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