ESSA Update

At the end of the tour, the Department released non-regulatory guidance, “Using Evidence to Strengthen Education Investments,” to help stakeholders make more effective education investments by leveraging relevant, rigorous evidence to improve outcomes for students under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).  The first part of the document describes steps for using evidence as part of a larger decision-making process, which also includes identifying local needs, engaging stakeholders, and continuous improvement.  The second part of the document provides clear guidance on the definition of “evidence-based” in ESSA, including recommendations on how to identify the level of evidence for various interventions.

Also, the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) — the independent research and statistics arm of the Department — launched a new web site for the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC).  This site features 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 site also allows users to download “practice guides” with evidence-based recommendations for improving teaching and learning and search thousands of studies reviewed against the WWC’s rigorous standards.

Then, today, the Department released non-regulatory guidance to help states, districts, and schools provide effective services to improve the English language proficiency and academic achievement of English Learners (ELs) through Title III of the ESSA.  This guidance is an effort to ensure that students who are English learners receive the high-quality services they need to be college and career ready.  Among other topics, the guidance touches upon: use of Title III funds to serve ELs; design and delivery of language instruction educational programs — which include educators of ELs; information on parent, family, and community engagement; information on distinct populations of ELs, including early learners, former ELs, immigrant students, and ELs who are also students with disabilities; and publications and resources for administrators and educators who work with ELs.