Advancing Evidence-Based Decision Making: A Tool-Kit on Recognizing and Conducting Opportunistic Experiments in the Family Self-Sufficiency and Stability Policy Area

Nov 2015 | US Administration for Children and Families, Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation

Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) are considered the gold standard for evaluating an intervention’s effectiveness. Through collaboration with a research team, state and local agencies can seize opportunities to introduce an RCT into the normal course of program operations without the high cost or disruption to normal operations sometimes associated with large-scale RCTs. This lower-cost, minimally disruptive approach—sometimes known as opportunistic experiments—uses random assignment not only as a fair way to allocate access to a program or service, but also to generate strong and timely evidence that can support policy and program decisions and improvements.

An opportunistic experiment (OE) is a type of RCT that studies the effects of an initiative, program change, or policy action that an agency or program plans or intends to implement. This tool-kit provides tips and resources to implement OEs in the policy area of family self-sufficiency and stability.

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