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McREL’s Education Technology Evaluations

Schools and districts are looking for ed-tech products that personalize learning, better engage students, and improve outcomes—and they need evidence that these products make a difference for students before they buy.

McREL bridges the gaps between educators, researchers, and developers. With a broad range of quantitative and qualitative evaluation methods at our disposal, including many that can be accomplished remotely, we can help stakeholders document what’s at stake, what works, and how successful (or not) an intervention has been.

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Ed-tech evaluations and ESSA evidence tiers explained

Can you show your prospective clients that your ed-tech product has demonstrated outcomes that meet one of ESSA’s four tiers of evidence? The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requires that K–12 schools and districts in the United States use evidence-based activities, strategies, and interventions. Schools are looking for educational technology solutions that meet these rigorous standards, and we can design a study that satisfies one of the four tiers of acceptable evidence.

Tier 1 | Strong Evidence

Tier 2 | Moderate Evidence

Tier 3 | Promising Evidence

Tier 4 | Demonstrates a Rationale

Free Brief | Ed-Tech Evaluations

We’ll analyze your ed-tech product to see how well it really performs, giving you valuable answers to questions educators will ask:

  • Does your ed-tech product work in the classroom the way you expect? Does it improve K–12 teaching and learning outcomes? Which students benefit the most from this technology?

  • Does your product have the evidence base needed to meet federal ESSA requirements?

  • Is your product easy for teachers and students to use? Is the training and support you give your clients/users sufficient to ensure quality use?

  • How well does your product match up with local and national academic standards?

Customized, collaborative, high-quality research

What makes McREL different from other research organizations? Our focus on your product, your needs, and your vision. We have the same level of expertise as the largest research companies in the world, but we’re a smaller shop that focuses solely on education and delivers boutique-style service, collaboration, and customization. We’ll listen to your specific needs and goals, and deliver customized studies that meet your specified timeline, budget, and vision. It’s a level of care and service you’ll be hard-pressed to find anywhere else.

Our researchers and evaluators can prepare studies, reports, and technical briefs, as well as provide technical assistance and consulting on logic models and theories of action; impact research; large-scale studies of federal and state programs; research syntheses and meta-analyses; causal-comparative studies; quasi-experimental studies; rigorous, randomized control trials; and case studies.

What our clients are saying

Discovery Education worked with McREL’s experts to align its popular Spotlight on Strategies digital content to McREL’s research-based six-phase model for learning. This alignment helps educators quickly choose appropriate classroom tactics for helping students acquire and recall information.

“By aligning McREL’s research on learning to our content, we’ve created an innovative tool educators can use to support the success of all their students.” Discovery Program


The publishers of a vocabulary-building program called VocabularySpellingCity thought they had a hit on their hands, but without data how could they be sure? They partnered with McREL on a small-scale but rigorously designed study that showed a clear advantage for students who used the program in addition to studying traditional word lists. Students loved using it because succeeding was fun, and their test scores followed suit.

“McREL’s analysis boosted our confidence. The program works, the kids love using it, and it produces results fast.”VocabularySpellingCity


Learning A–Z is an education technology company that contracted McREL to conduct an efficacy study of its Raz-Plus product, which is designed to strengthen student literacy through personalized online instruction. Smaller-scale studies of Raz-Plus showed promising findings. We conducted a large-scale study with a rigorous research design across multiple schools to find that Raz-Plus meets STRONG Evidence by ESSA Standards.

“McREL was a responsive, knowledgeable partner that assisted us with research planning, study implementation, and reporting the results.”
Learning A–Z


Science4Us turned to McREL to determine if its online program for early elementary science instruction improved student engagement, motivation, and achievement, and if the program’s professional development increased teachers’ confidence in teaching science. McREL’s study found that Science4Us helped students make statistically significant improvements on content knowledge, and motivated teachers to adjust their instructional practice.

“McREL helped us narrow and focus our questions so we would get to what we most needed to know.”Science For Us