Evaluation of Preschool Special Education Practices (EPSEP)

Prepared for
U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences

Provider Opportunity: Notice of Request for Proposals for Providers of Integrated Curricula and Targeted Instructional Supports for Children in Inclusive Preschool Classrooms to Participate in an Impact Evaluation
Proposal Deadline Extended to March 26, 2018

Download the Request for ProposalsAttachments A-D, and Q & A

Mathematica Policy Research and its partners, Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute and the University of Florida, invites providers of integrated curricula (used to supplement the general preschool curriculum) and targeted instructional supports for children in inclusive preschool classrooms to submit proposals to participate in a small-scale impact evaluation sponsored by the National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance within the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), U.S. Department of Education. Inclusive preschool classrooms are those in which children with disabilities are served alongside those without identified disabilities, and the majority of the class comprises children without identified disabilities. The Evaluation of Preschool Special Education Practices will assess the impact of combining two types of supports:

  • Content-specific curriculum refers to a supplement to a core curriculum that has instruction designed to enhance children’s outcomes in language skills, literacy, and/or social-emotional/behavioral development, and is appropriate for all children in inclusive preschool classrooms (with and without disabilities). The content-specific curriculum need not address all three outcome areas and does not replace the existing general curriculum.
  • Targeted instructional supports are intentional and intensive instructional strategies[1] that teachers[2] use to support learning for children with disabilities and promote their engagement with and learning from the content-specific curriculum. Targeted instructional supports are integrated with, and take place within the context of, the content-specific curriculum.

The purpose of the evaluation is to conduct a small-scale efficacy study in public schools to test whether the two components of the intervention program can be implemented together with fidelity in inclusive classrooms and can work with a broad range of disabilities. The efficacy study will provide initial evidence of impacts on outcomes both for children who receive Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) services and for those who do not receive IDEA services. Based on the results of the efficacy study, IES may sponsor a large-scale effectiveness trial as part of a subsequent evaluation.

This Request for Proposals (RFP) invites providers (including researchers, publishers, and other organizations involved in developing the supports described above) to apply to provide training and implementation support to approximately 13 treatment schools (and 20 inclusive preschool classrooms in those schools) in three U.S. school districts selected by Mathematica. The planned period of implementation will begin with initial training in summer 2019, followed by ongoing support throughout the 2019–2020 school year. Providers may propose an additional year of training and ongoing support in 2020–2021, if appropriate for their intervention program’s theory of action (for example, if offerors expect that a year of experience is needed for teachers to achieve acceptable implementation fidelity).

All training and other materials for the supports must already exist and must have been previously implemented in a school setting; no funding will be provided for curriculum, technology, or other substantial program development. However, to ensure that the supports meet the needs of the evaluation, Mathematica will allow for modest customization or adjustment of training materials and fidelity measures.

The selected provider will be responsible for providing training and ongoing support to school personnel during the implementation period. Mathematica will be responsible for the evaluation design, recruitment and random assignment of schools, data collection, and analysis and reporting of the impacts of the selected supports.

Providers are encouraged to form a consortium with other organizations or providers/developers to respond to the RFP requirements if their supports do not cover both the curriculum and the targeted aspects described above. Providers that form a consortium must demonstrate that the proposed team will apply an integrated, consistent approach to implementing the proposed classroom and targeted instructional supports.

Candidate providers must have experience providing training and implementation support to educators, as well as the capacity to provide this training and support for the current efficacy study and to increase capacity, if needed, to implement a potential large-scale effectiveness study. Proposals will be evaluated on the quality of the proposed content-specific curriculum and targeted instructional supports (including the training and support activities and materials), associated evidence of efficacy, and staff experience and capacity. Up to four providers will be selected to provide written responses to questions and conduct an in-person oral presentation in Washington, DC. Mathematica, in consultation with IES and an expert review panel, will then select the supports for inclusion in the evaluation through a firm fixed-price subcontract between the selected provider of the supports and Mathematica.

RFP and Attachments

Request for Proposals

Attachment A

Attachment B

Attachments C and D

Key Dates and RFP Information

Updated February 8, 2018: Deadline has been extended for proposals to March 26, 2018.

Updated January 11, 2018: The RFP was released online on January 11, 2018, at https://www.mathematica-mpr.com/our-publications-and-findings/projects/evaluation-of-preschool-special-education-practices. Please contact EPSEPcompetition@mathematica-mpr.com with any questions about the RFP.

RFP release date: January 11, 2018

Proposals due: March 26, 2018

In-person finalist presentations: May 2018

Expected subcontract award: Late June 2018


[1] Intentional refers to identifying the skill that will be taught and planning when and how it will be taught during ongoing classroom activities. Intensive refers to providing sufficient learning opportunities both within and across ongoing classroom activities on the skill being taught to address the child’s pace and phase of learning.

[2] By teachers we mean the classroom staff with primary responsibility for instruction in classrooms. These staff may include both certified teachers and paraprofessionals.