District Administration April 2018 - 3

SPONSORED CONTENT

Kristopher John
Vice President
Curriculum Associates

ESSA and what it means for district administrators
Research evidence is critical to how state and local
education agencies use federal funding to select interventions
The Every Student Succeeds Act raises the bar of what
qualifies as an evidence-based educational activity.
Below is a discussion of what that means with practical
guidance for district leaders.
Talk about "evidence-based interventions" under the
Every Student Succeeds Act.
One of the significant differences between No Child
Left Behind and the Every Student Succeeds Act is
the "evidence-based" requirements for programs.
Under ESSA, "evidence-based" is a critical factor for
how state and local education agencies use federal
funding to purchase interventions for students. ESSA
also introduces levels of evidence (with higher levels
considered "stronger" evidence). However, the levels
speak more to the methodology used to do research than
the quality of evidence. For example, it is possible to
perform what is methodologically a randomized control
study (ESSA Level 1) and still not have it be highly
relevant or of high quality.
What are the implications for each level?
The federal government recommends that any
interventions at least be informed by prior research and
theory of action in the field. For example, in the teaching
of reading, there's plenty of research evidence that says
taking a phonics-based approach to reading instruction
is effective. If I use a theory of action and established
practices in the development of my program, that doesn't
prove that my program works better than any other
program. It just means I used these informed methods to
develop it. That would be Level 4. Where it gets a little
more interesting is establishing "correlational evidence
with controls" or Level 3. Level 3 is not as controlled as
Level 2 or 1, but it's considered "promising" and opens up
access to the more limited funding sources. For example,

Title I schools choosing an intervention must have Level
3 evidence or above.
How should district administrators define successful
research to meet ESSA requirements?
Show the evidence. If a program provider claims to have
research evidence, you want to see it. Ideally, it should
be published. Then dig into the evidence itself. That's
essential. Some programs have evidence that is more than
10 years old. In education, a lot of things have changed in
the past 10 years. Standards keep changing. Many states
have been through two rounds of evolving standards in
the past 10 years. Also, ask yourself if the evidence is
relevant to your students. For example, if a school has a
high population of English language learners, you probably
want to make sure that the research included a similar
population and that the programs that you're selecting
work for that population.
Should district administrators be swayed by statistical
significance in any research if it doesn't have practical
relevance as well?
In education research, there is a lot of focus on statistical
significance. When evaluating the evidence for a program,
you want to know how much practical relevance it has. If
you're interested in getting students reading, you do not
want an intervention that had a statistically significant
impact but ultimately amounted to a minimal change in
students' reading performance. You might want to see that
a reading program leads to a significantly higher number
of students hitting reading proficiency on state tests.

For more information on this topic, visit curriculumassociates.com/ESSA-DA to download Curriculum Associates'
recently published white paper on how to evaluate evidence and how to look for practical significance.
View, comment, share this story online at DAmag.me/essada


http://www.curriculumassociates.com/ESSA-DA http://www.DAmag.me/essada

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of District Administration April 2018

District Administration April 2018 - Cover1
District Administration April 2018 - Cover2
District Administration April 2018 - 1
District Administration April 2018 - 2
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