Figuring Out What Works

As we’ve previously discussed, the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) presents an important opportunity for states to design education systems that meet the needs of students in their communities. But states can only take advantage of that opportunity by choosing policies and programs that support student success. How can education leaders determine what those are?

A new report from Chiefs for Change and Results for America can help state and district leaders to answer that question. “Evidence-Building Opportunities Under ESSA: How States Can and Should Generate Evidence to Drive Better Outcomes for Students” both lays out what ESSA requires when it comes to “evidence-based” policies and programs and provides recommendations for how states can build evidence. These recommendations include adopting internal policies, building local capacity and establishing partnerships.

Additionally, the report highlights several state-level best practices in this area:

  • Tennessee has created in an internal research team—now called the Office of Research and Strategy—tasked with evaluating the effectiveness of statewide initiatives. It also designs and executes studies to accompany the rollout of pilot programs and provides real-time data to decisionmakers.
  • Nevada’s Partnership Network is facilitating data collection and collaboration between 30 high-needs schools in the state. Participating schools are engaging in a community of practice with one another, and data on the success of their programs are being shared throughout the state.
  • Ohio has partnered with Proving Ground, an initiative of the Center for Education Policy at Harvard University, to create a research partnership with two districts in the state.

The report is an important read for state and district leaders, as well as anyone interested in what ESSA implementation looks like on the ground. You can read it here.

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