About the Education, Technology, and Opportunity Initiative

Education is often described as a pathway to mobility, yet schools in the United States continue to fall short on key indicators of a quality education, and low-income students and students of color are disproportionately left behind. J-PAL North America’s Education, Technology, and Opportunity Initiative supports the design and implementation of randomized evaluations of education technology and innovative instructional programs. The goal of the initiative is to identify scalable strategies to improve learning outcomes in the United States, particularly for disadvantaged students.

What we do:

Evaluations Capacity Building Policy Outreach


J-PAL North America runs the Education, Technology, and Opportunity Initiative to support the development of rigorous evidence on promising approaches to improve educational outcomes through the use of technology in North America. J-PAL's Education Sector Co-Chair Phil Oreopoulos and J-PAL affiliate Peter Bergman are the Initiative Co-Chairs.

We run an Innovation Competition that provides direct support to education leaders interested in evaluating their program or policy. Through this competition, J-PAL’s Education, Technology, and Opportunity Initiative builds partnerships between policymakers, practitioners, and researchers to spur policy-relevant research on key issues related to leveraging technology to improve educational outcomes.

Implementing organizations partnered with a J-PAL affiliated researcher are eligible to apply for funding for pilot studies and full randomized evaluations through our bi-annual Request for Proposals. Read more about funded evaluations related to our work in education technology.

Capacity Building

Through our Innovation Competition, our Initiative seeks to build the capacity of local education leaders and decision-makers to implement rigorous evaluations of education technology products. We facilitate connections between education leaders and academic researchers to ensure that research generates policy-relevant insights to shape decision-making in K-12 and higher education contexts.

Policy Outreach

To further disseminate our research findings and ensure that academic research is accessible and relevant to wide audiences, we translate research findings into:

  • Review papers: J-PAL North America’s ed tech review paper explains the value of using randomized evaluations in education technology and outlines the current experimental evidence on the impacts of education technology. See our Evidence Review for a high-level summary of key takeaways. Read coverage of the review paper in U.S. News and World Report, The New York Times, and The Economist. Read a brief overview of the review paper on our blog. Support for the literature review was provided by the Spencer Foundation.
  • Media coverage: Read Phil Oreopoulos, Thomas Kane, and Britt Neuhaus’ recent piece in Education Week which makes the case for more rigorous evaluation of education technology products. Our Innovation Competition has also been highlighted in MIT News.
  • Presentations to key decision-makers and government partners


If you have further questions about the application process or would like to discuss a potential proposal, please email Initiative Manager Kim Dadisman at [email protected]