Optimal Disseminates Research Methodologies at U.S. Department of Education (ED) Conference

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Washington, DC - June 2007 – As part of its analytic support to ED’s National Center for Special Education Research (NCSER), a center of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), Optimal Solutions Group (Optimal) researchers recruited nationally recognized university experts to author five papers and convened these experts to participate in the annual IES Research Conference.  The papers, on the application of particular methodologies in special education research, were as a result of a one month recruitment and selection process initiated by Optimal.  Under the direction of NCSER, Optimal researchers managed the conceptual development of the papers to enable the special education research community to take advantage of cutting-edge analytical methodologies. The papers supported the Conference goal of disseminating the results of IES-supported research activities and provided an opportunity for researchers to interact with and hear from prominent practitioners and policymakers.

As part of the conference held on June 7-8 in Washington, D.C., Optimal’s researchers and national experts participated in two NCSER panels on special education research methodology.  They initiated discussion on core methodological issues in special education and special education research applications of regression discontinuity, power analysis, single case design, and models accounting for contextual effects. These special education research panels represent one of the first formal discussions about applying advanced quantitative techniques to the unique challenges of research involving students with special needs.

The special education research panels included the following expert presenters and papers:

  • Dr. Mary Brownell, University of Florida, “Improving Our Understanding of Contextual Influences in Special Education” – co-authored by Michelle Blair, Optimal research associate;
  • Dr. Donald Compton, Vanderbilt University, “Core Methodological Issues: Modeling Growth in Children with Disabilities;”
  • Dr. Charles Greenwood, University of Kansas, “The Regression Discontinuity Design: Approach to Special Education Intervention Research;”
  • Dr. Larry Hedges, Northwestern University, “Power Analysis in Special Education Research;” and
  • Dr. Rob Horner, University of Oregon, “Toward Comprehensive Analysis of Single-Case Designs.”

Optimal’s Dr. Larry Dolan served as moderator at one of the special education sessions.

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Optimal Solutions Group, LLC is a nonpartisan, public policy research consulting firm in the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area. Optimal is committed to supplying insightful program evaluation, cost-benefit and effectiveness analyses, custom econometric modeling, and market analyses for decision makers in both the public and private sectors.

Primary capabilities include:

  • Program Evaluation
  • Survey Design & Research
  • Software Services
  • Statistical Analysis
  • Expert Witness Reports & Testimony
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Disparity Studies
  • GIS Mapping Services

Policy areas of expertise include:

  • Economic Development
  • Education
  • Criminal Justice
  • Housing
  • Social Services
  • Transportation
  • Workforce Development


Optimal serves numerous government and commercial clients, including federal and state agencies, community-based organizations, business associations, and law firms. 

For more information, please contact:
Dr. Mark Turner at 301.918.7301, mturner@optimalsolutionsgroup.com
Tracye Turner at 301.918.7302, tturner@optimalsolutionsgroup.com.