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Evidence for ESSA Website is Live: New National Resource Ranks K-12 Reading and Math Programs According to Evidence

Baltimore, Maryland – Today the Center for Research and Reform in Education (CRRE) at Johns Hopkins University has released its much anticipated new website called Evidence for ESSA, a free web-based resource that provides easy access to information on programs that meet the evidence standards defined in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The website is designed for education leaders at the state, district and school levels, to provide information to state chiefs, superintendents, principals, teachers, parents, and anyone else interested in which programs meet the ESSA evidence standards.

The ESSA evidence standards matter. School improvement funding requires that programs meet one of the top three categories, and seven other competitive grants provide bonus points if applications promise to implement programs in the top three categories. Other ESSA provisions encourage using research-based programs and practices.

“ESSA has aroused a lot of interest in evidence, and it’s reasonable to assume that if evidence is readily available, education leaders will use it to make better decisions for their children,” said Dr. Robert Slavin, Director of CRRE.

The website reviews math and reading programs for grades K to 12 to determine which meet the strong, moderate, or promising levels of evidence defined in ESSA (additional subject areas will be added later). The site provides a one-page summary of each program, including a program description, brief research review, and practical information on costs, professional development, and technology requirements. It is easily searchable and searches can be refined for particular groups (such as African Americans, Hispanics, or English Learners), communities (urban, suburban, or rural), and program features (such as technology, cooperative learning, or tutoring). Evidence for ESSA directs users to the key studies that validate that a program meets a particular ESSA standard. No one has to take CRRE’s word for it. CRRE’s objective with the site is to help users through the information jungle to find the treasures they need.

“Everyone was asking what the ESSA evidence provisions meant and where programs meeting the standards could be found,” said Dr. Nancy Madden, a professor at CRRE. “We decided to make Evidence for ESSA so that educators can make wise and informed choices for students and so that teachers, parents, and community members can participate in a more informed way in conversations about what is best for students.”

In the future, users will be able to find out about “ambassador schools” using specific programs, which they may wish to contact or visit, and CRRE will add advice on implementation from program users and developers.

Evidence for ESSA is supported by a start-up grant from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. “Our goal is for educators to have ready access to reliable and useful information about the quality of evidence available to strengthen teaching and learning for young people across the country,” said Ilene Berman, a senior associate with the foundation’s Evidence-Based Practice Group.

CRRE considers Evidence for ESSA a complement to the What Works Clearinghouse and CRRE’s own Best Evidence Encyclopedia, both sites with reviews of education research though not specifically using ESSA evidence criteria.

In creating the site, CRRE was aided by a Technical Work Group composed of distinguished researchers and policy makers familiar with research review and evidence-based policy who consulted on review procedures and key decisions: Dr. Kent McGuire, Dr. Barbara Schneider, Dr. Jerry D’Agostino, Dr. Robin Jacob, and Dr. Olusola Adesope.

In order to ensure they were meeting a need, CRRE invited representatives of stakeholder groups to provide input and feedback throughout the development process. Members of the Stakeholder Advisory Group represent a diverse group of professionals involved in education at the leadership, grassroots, and policy levels, including Chiefs for Change, AASA: The School Superintendents Association, National Title I Association, National Association of Elementary School Principals, National Association of Secondary School Principals, National Education Association, National School Boards Association, National PTA, National Association of State Boards of Education, Association of Educational Service Agencies, National Rural Education Association, National Rural Education Advocacy Consortium, Results for America, America Forward, Alliance for Excellent Education, and American Youth Policy Forum.


Established in 2004, the Center for Research and Reform in Education at Johns Hopkins University strives to improve the quality of education for children in grades pre-K to 12 through high-quality research and evaluation studies and the dissemination of evidence-based research. The mission of Evidence for ESSA, CRRE’s newest project, is to provide clear and authoritative information on programs that meet the ESSA evidence standards and enable educators and communities to select effective educational tools to improve student success.

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