The U.S. Department of Education today released new guidance, Using Evidence to Strengthen Education Investments, to support evidence-based decision-making by states, districts, schools, educators, and partners. This non-regulatory guidance is intended to help stakeholders make more effective education investments by leveraging rigorous, relevant evidence to improve outcomes for kids under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
“We have made major progress during this Administration in directing investments in education to evidence-based strategies,” U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. said. “Relevant, rigorous evidence must be an essential part of a strong framework for decision-making. We hope this guidance will help decision makers as they consider, choose, implement, and refine their strategies to support students.”
The guidance is being released in conjunction with King’s “Opportunity Across America” back-to-school bus tour stop in New Orleans, Louisiana, where he will visit Cohen College Prep, which receives funding from the Department’s Investing in Innovation (i3) program. The program provides funding for evidence-based tools and strategies that deliver improved results for students.
The first part of the guidance describes key steps for using evidence as a part of a larger decision-making process, which also includes a focus on identifying local needs, engaging stakeholders, and continuous improvement. The second part of the document provides guidance on the definition of “evidence-based” in ESSA, including recommendations on how to identify the level of evidence for various interventions.
This guidance builds on years of work by the Department to promote evidence-based programs and policies that began in the first years of the Administration through programs like the i3 program, which has leveraged over a billion dollars of federal funding to identify, develop, and scale up effective education strategies.
Also, this week, the Institute of Education Sciences—the independent research and statistics arm of the Department—launched a new website for the What Works Clearinghouse. The new website includes an enhanced “Find What Works” tool that allows educators and policymakers to find programs and interventions that evidence shows have had a positive impact on student outcomes. The new website also allows users to download practice guides with evidence-based recommendations for improving teaching and learning, and search thousands of studies that have been reviewed against the Clearinghouse’s rigorous standards.
The “Find What Works” tool, along with existing Department technical assistance resources such as the Regional Education Laboratories and Comprehensive Centers, can help states and districts use this guidance to make evidence-based decisions.
This guidance is the latest in a series of guidance documents that the Department is releasing on the new provisions in ESSA. In the coming weeks and months, the Department will release additional guidance for early learners; preparing, training, and recruiting high-quality teachers and principals; English learners; and student support and academic enrichment. In addition to issuing guidance on these topics, the Department is reviewing public comments and feedback to determine what, if any, additional guidance is a priority for implementation of the law.
As part of this year’s “Opportunity Across America” back-to-school bus tour, King and other Department officials are holding events touting the Administration’s key initiatives over the last eight years, highlighting the progress made to expand opportunity across the nation and the groundwork laid for continued momentum. In addition to bus stops in Monroe, Baton Rouge and New Orleans, Louisiana, the tour included visits to the District of Columbia, Tennessee, Virginia, Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi. Follow the bus tour on social media at #OpportunityTour.