By Donna Magee

When the U.S. Deparment of Education introduced the i3 (Investment in Innovation) grant program, there was a shift in the research expectations and terminology related to professional development providers and educational impact. Now we hear references to “scientifically-based research” less often and more often hear “evidence-based.” The i3 grant applications outline three different levels of evidence for practice, strategy, and/or programs: strong evidence, moderate evidence, and reasonable hypotheses. Basically, these levels identify the strength of the research for the practice.

There are a number of indicators that are used to assess the strength of the research and where a provider’s strategies or practices fall on this evidence-based matrix. These indicators include internal and external validity; prior research studies supporting the effectiveness or efficacy of the practice, strategy, or program; the practice, strategy, or program in prior research; participants and settings in prior research; the significance of effect; and the magnitude of effect.

Many people are interested in the research we have to support aha! Process’s work. Since 2000, aha! Process has been involved in researching the educational impact of its school improvement efforts on student achievement. A number of reports, summaries, and an external review can be found on our website by following this link. The reports conducted by Dr. Bill Swan, professor emeritus at the University of Georgia, as well as the external review and research summary found on the website, all constitute moderate evidence of the impact of the school improvement strategies, according to QuarterSource, Inc. These meet the indicators of prior studies, as well as the significance of effect and the magnitude of effect.

Updates to the Ridgeroad Middle Charter School report that continue to validate the impact of the model have been added. An additional report of aha! Process’s work that is being done in Lowndes County, Mississippi, is forthcoming.

We hope this information is helpful. If you’d like more information, email us at

-Donna Magee is vice president of educational programs at aha! Process.