This page refers to a “nimble” trial conducted alongside a wider scale-up evaluation of the Embedding Formative Assessment (EFA) programme. The results from this short trial were used to inform the recruitment strategy for scaling of the EFA programme. To read about the wider scale-up evaluation of EFA, click here.
Embedding formative assessment (EFA) is a professional development programme which aims to improve pupil outcomes by embedding the use of formative assessment strategies across a school. The EFA scale-up evaluation is delivering between September 2021 and July 2023. In addition to the scale-up evaluation, the EEF commissioned BIT to undertake a mailer RCT to test whether certain marketing messages can encourage the adoption of an evidence-based programme by school leaders. This two-arm trial aimed to explore whether testimony or evidence-based marketing material resulted in differential expressions of interest (EOIs) and sales of EFA. The study sample included 2000 schools that were randomly assigned into two treatment groups
These groups received a letter and a supplemental programme description for EFA that was either constructed using solely testimonial (from a previous case study) or evidence-based support (from the previous EEF-funded evaluation). The aim of this study was to enable recommendations about how to improve design of school recruitment materials, as well as to make a contribution to the wider knowledge about the adoption of evidence-based practices at scale.
- The study found no statistically significant difference in response rates between testimony- versus evidence-based marketing of the EFA programme. Numerical differences indicate that evidence-based marketing materials may have been better at encouraging interest from school leaders. Overall EOIs following marketing materials were low, at 1.6%.
- No evidence was found for a difference in rate of sales between evidence- and testimony-based marketing materials. Sales in response to marketing materials were low, with two sales per trial arm.
- The sample used was atypically “cold”, with the trial conducted after a long period of COVID-19 related school closures, which may account for the overall EOI rate.
- The trial demonstrates a fairly low cost and relatively easy to implement trial that can be used to support scale-up of other programmes.