Supporting the Use of Evidence in Education

The following post was written by America Forward Government Affairs Director Nicole Truhe

The America Forward Coalition strongly advocated for a bipartisan law that would support our network’s efforts to ensure that all children, whatever their background, receive a first-class education. When the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) became law in December 2015, it included many of the priorities of the Coalition that help to achieve this goal. Among them was language throughout the law that emphasized evidence, innovation, and rewarding results.

Throughout the law, evidence provisions encourage, and in some places require, the use of proven programs and practices. For the first time in history, the law defines evidence standards for Strong, Moderate, and Promising programs. With states now navigating through the implementation of ESSA, important resources and support are needed to help education agencies effectively execute on these new opportunities. The question many are asking about this focus on evidence is: But what specific programs meet these definitions?

Recently, the Center for Research and Reform in Education (CRRE) at Johns Hopkins University formally launched a new, searchable website with easy-to-use information on programs that meet the ESSA evidence standards. The free site, Evidence for ESSA , currently contains information on K-12 reading and math programs and interventions that fall into the evidence standards included in the law with the goal of adding additional topics over time.

In order to ensure that what was being developed would meet the needs of the field, CRRE put together a Stakeholder Advisory Group (SAG) consisting mostly of organizations representing a diverse group of education leaders at all levels as well as a few representing professionals in education policy and evidence. America Forward is proud to be a member of the SAG and as such, we have been providing input and feedback throughout the creation and development of the site.

Our goal for participating in the SAG was to ensure that the content was accurate and that the site was user-friendly—and we feel that has been achieved! In just a few intuitive clicks through the site, you will see ranked tiles of programs side by side according to strength of evidence, within categories such as secondary math, struggling readers, or English learners. You can filter your search based on factors such as urban/rural, ethnic groups, English learners, or program features. You can then look at program descriptions with information including costs, staffing and technology needs, and other requirements, as well as information on groups studied.

The site is not just informational but will also provide contact information for “ambassador schools” that use a particular program and are willing to answer questions, as well as tips from current users and providers in the coming months. This peer-to-peer interaction and learning we feel is critical to the success of the use and effective execution of evidence in education.

We truly believe that this tool will help advance the use of evidence in education through the application of the evidence provisions of ESSA. The evidence provisions of ESSA may seem daunting, but this website will help state and local education agencies find programs that meet their needs and have been proven to increase student achievement, which is the real end goal for all of us.

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