Levels of Evidence under ESSA

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) significantly shifts the federal education landscape. Under the new law, State Education Agencies (SEAs) have been granted new authority to re-think the design and implementation of their education systems. In doing so, ESSA encourages them to use “Evidence-Based” strategies, programs, interventions and practices in order to maximize impact.

ESSA requires the use of Evidence-Based research to support new educational initiatives. The resources below do an excellent job of detailing the following tiers of “Evidence-Based” research:

  1. Strong: At least 1 well-designed and well-implemented experimental study (i.e., randomized).
  2. Moderate: At least 1 well-designed and well-implemented quasi-experimental study (i.e., matched).
  3. Promising: At least 1 well-designed and well-implemented correlational study with statistical controls for selection bias.
  4. Under Evaluation: Demonstrates rationale based on high-quality research or positive evaluation that such activity, strategy, or intervention is likely to improve student outcomes.

The resources below help to further understand the different levels of Evidence-Based practices.

ESSA Evidence-Based Summary And Analysis


Non-Regulatory Guidance: Using Evidence To Strengthen Education Investments


Evidence Provisions of ESSA


ESSA and Evidence: Why It Matters


Aligning Evidence-based Clearinghouses with the ESSA Tiers of Evidence


The Northeast Comprehensive Center (NCC) is available to help SEAs deepen their understanding of ESSA, anticipate challenges and think through possible solutions, and to implement key components of the ESSA legislation. This includes areas such as state accountability systems, educator effectiveness, college and career readiness, school improvement and support, and the use of “Evidence-Based” research. Our support to SEAs includes:

  • Identifying school improvement and support practices that are Evidence-Based.
  • Facilitating the redesign of state requirements based on the provisions and opportunities that ESSA allows.
  • Providing technical assistance around strategies to assist subgroups that are in the achievement gap (e.g., English language learners, students with disabilities, etc.)
  • Facilitating stakeholder engagement to ensure that the SEAs receive meaningful feedback and suggestions from all stakeholders.
  • Identifying best practices that are being implemented in SEAs and LEAs across the country.

The NCC is committed to supporting SEAs not only to meet the requirements of ESSA, but to make the most of the opportunities the new law creates.

For assistance implementing ESSA, please contact us.

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