Year 6 Project Overview: Connecticut Evidence-Based Practices

In their ESSA plan, the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) has set forth goals for ensuring that low-performing schools use evidence-based interventions and practices to address priority needs. CSDE has asked the NCC to support them in identifying and disseminating evidence-based school improvement information and guidance to districts and schools.

While guidance exists on how to identify and catalog different levels of evidence-based practices (e.g., experimental, quasi-experimental, and correlational), it is not always within the ability of individual Local Education Agencies (LEAs) to undertake this analysis for the school improvement initiatives they feel best meet their needs.

For example, some of the factors that LEAs may want to consider when selecting evidence-based research include:

  • Attrition in the sample
  • The effect size (was the impact large enough to warrant replication?)
  • Cost in relation to outcomes
  • Similar populations (is study sample representative of Connecticut students?
  • Unintended consequences identified or other research that disputes the findings of the study in question

NCC will provide technical assistance to CSDE as it relates to implementing evidence-based research, including but not limited to: identifying evidence-based research comporting to the required ESSA evidence tiers, assisting in developing protocols and processes that LEAs can use to identify appropriate evidence-based practices, connecting CSDE personnel with State Education Agency (SEA) colleagues in the NCC region to share ideas and practices with respect to implementing evidence-based practices, and reviewing materials and protocols developed by CSDE to implement evidence-based research.

As a result of NCC’s assistance, CSDE will have: 1) produced a compendium of evidence-based practices to assist the state’s LEAs in identifying the most effective school turnaround practices and initiatives, 2) developed processes and protocols for LEAs to implement and identify evidence-based research that meets ESSA requirements, and 3) participated in an ongoing learning community with SEAs in the region.

Progress to Date

  • As part of the implementation of their ESSA plan, CSDE committed to developing evidence-based practice guides for the field. To support CSDE, NCC reviewed and prepared feedback on both the content and structure of the guides, particularly around ways the guides could best meet the needs of their intended audience (i.e., school-based planning teams in underperforming schools).
  • NCC facilitated a virtual exchange with states in the regionincluding Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New Yorkaround approaches to evidence-based practices. Participants shared and received feedback on successes, lessons learned, and challenges. NCC will continue to host similar opportunities as states move closer to implementation and as needs arise.
  • CSDE has released draft evidence-based practice guides for the field. The guides, which represents the state’s first best effort, was featured in a recent CCSSO “States Leading” ESSA newsletter and will serve as a resource for other states in the region.

Research, Resources and Collaborations

One resource the NCC has used with CSDE in this work is an analysis of evidence-based policies described in early ESSA plans by Results for America. In addition, the NCC has performed its own analysis of ESSA plans, including the second round of submissions, in gathering patterns and promising practices for use with CSDE.

The Ohio State Department of Education recently launched a web-portal called Empowered By Evidence. It provides helpful and easy to understand information on the ESSA evidence requirements and what they mean for schools and districts.

Contact Person

For more information, contact Jack Schwarz at

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