Your Guide to the ESSA Education Law’s Evidence-Based Mandate

Robin Duffy
Robin Duffy
11 Oct 17
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When using federal funds to purchase educational materials, school districts must comply with federal regulations.   In December 2015, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) replaced No Child Left Behind (NCLB). This latest revision of the federal education legislation requires school districts that receive federal funds to utilize “evidence-based” approaches that have demonstrated statistically significant positive effects on student outcomes. 

ESSA identifies four levels of evidence: strong, moderate, promising, and evidence that demonstrates a rationale. These levels define study criteria rather than correlate to the strength of student outcomes.

As a researcher here at Pearson, this ESSA mandate validates the type of research we’ve been doing since 2001 for our PreKindergarten-Grade 12 programs.  We have been executing “evidence-based” research for more than 15 years conducting scientific research to support program development and demonstrate program efficacy.  In addition to answering the question, “To what extent did student achievement increase by using our programs?”, we also continue to seek answers to questions like:

  • To what extent was our program implemented with fidelity?
  • How can we isolate the effect of our program?
  • To what extent did student achievement increase for different types of learners?  

Our website, www.pearsonschool.com/evidencebased,  provides educators with an easy way to see how our programs align to ESSA’s evidence requirements.  Our research is ongoing, so additional programs and studies will be added as they are completed.

In addition, we’ve also created one-page “Evidence Explained” summaries for all programs meeting ESSA’s top three categories.  You can find them under “Research Study” on the right hand column of the chart.

NCLB, ESSA…it isn’t certain as to what the next wave of federal education legislation will look like. What is certain is that we will continue to measure our programs through scientific studies and trials to evaluate how well they impact learning and meet the needs of users of all abilities and achievement levels.

-Robin Duffy
Director, Academic & Product Research
US Learning Services

Visit our ESSA page to find recent examples that demonstrate the scale, scope and rigor of our summative research.

For additional inquiries about program efficacy please feel free to contact us at research_studies@pearson.com.

If you, your school or district is interested in sharing the results of using a Pearson program, please e-mail research_studies@pearson.com.

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