One of the key elements of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which took into full effect in the 2017-2018 school year, is a mandate for states to develop and implement an evidence-based plan for improving lowest-performing schools.
Evidence-based plan refers to leveraging specific practices that have demonstrated — through research — improved student outcomes. To implement evidence-based strategies, education leaders must research and select practices that are not only proven to be effective but also align with the unique needs and culture of their school.
American Institutes for Research (AIR) is one of the worlds’ largest behavioral and social science research and evaluation organizations with the goal of identifying the most effective ideas and approaches in many fields including education. One of the unique resources AIR offers is ESSA Action Guide, a tool for education leaders to ensure the evidence-based practices they select meet ESSA requirements and school needs.
The ESSA Guide offers the following three action steps:
- Understand your current situation. For example, identify specific student outcomes you want to improve and create an inventory of the school’s existing practices to understand what’s working and what’s not.
- Once you understand the gap between your desired outcomes and current practices, research potential evidence-based strategies you can implement to address your school’s needs. Some of the online tools you can use for this step include:
- Once you’ve identified appropriate evidence-based strategies, consider your unique constraints when making the final selection. For example, are there adequate resources available to enact a given practice? Does the practice align with school culture and values?
It’s important to note that implementing evidence-based practices is not a bullet-proof strategy. One reason has to do with repeatability of results associated with a given practice. According to an Education Week article, “in the most comprehensive attempt to date to reproduce social science research (including education research), a team of dozens of researchers repeated 100 published social science experiments. In the analysis… more than 60 percent of the experiments showed weaker results.”
Students pursuing the Online Doctorate in Education Leadership (EdD) at William Woods University will take EDU 760 – Program Evaluation & Strategic Plan. This course examines concepts, methods and approaches in the field of evaluation research. Students will be exposed to the theoretical and methodological diversity inherent in current evaluation practices and learn how to manage growth, change and organizational improvement through the evaluation of educational programming.