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How Do ESSA Plans Stack Up on Using Evidence in School Improvement?

By Alyson Klein — January 11, 2018 2 min read
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The Every Student Succeeds Act allows states and districts to come up with their own interventions for struggling schools, with the caveat that improvement strategies have to some sort of evidence to back them up.

So how strong are state ESSA plans when it comes to school improvement? It’s a mixed bag, concludes a report released Friday by the Evidence in Education Lab at Results for America, a non-profit organization that studies school improvement.

The good: Almost every state—46 out of the 51, including the District of Columbia—included at least some one “promising practice” for building and using evidence in their plans. Eleven states were stand-outs in this area: Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, and Tennessee.

Nine states—Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, and Tennessee—pledged to distribute federal school improvement dollars at least in part on the strength of school and districts’ plans to use evidence-based interventions.

Eight states—Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, and Tennessee—had strong proposals for monitoring and evaluating the implementation of school improvement plans.

And seven states—Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, New Mexico, and Rhode Island—had meaty plans for lending districts a hand in choosing evidence-based interventions for foundering schools.

The not-so-good: Just three states had strong plans for using evidence to decide when to step in and offer struggling districts additional help, according to the report. And only nine states put a premium on evidence and continuous improvement in designing district applications for school improvement funding.

This is Results for America’s second look at evidence and improvement in ESSA plans. Check out their first examination here.

For another take on this issue, check out a review released in December by Bellwether Education Partners, a consulting organization. Bellwether’s report states, “mostly produced plans that are vague and noncommittal about how they will support low-performing schools.”

Read the new Results for America report here.

Want to learn more about the Every Student Succeeds Act? Here’s some useful information: