The Institute of Education Sciences (IES), the research arm of the U.S. Department of Education, released its updated website today, and it is pretty spectacular: http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc
IES sponsors and conducts research that provides evidence for education policies and practices. Their new website makes it easier for policy makers to find evidence-based policies, which is especially helpful given the new flexibility that states and districts have under ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act).
You can now look up research for programs that have been tested for improving educational outcomes in various subjects (Math, Literacy, & Science), for student populations (English Learners, Students with Disabilities), and various age groups. You can also cross-filter to find programs related to multiple groups (Math achievement for Students with Disabilities in High School, for example). The evidence also shows how many studies were conducted, how many students were involved in the study, and the size of the effect.
My only critique would be the lack of evidence for some types of programs, but that’s a content-based issue, not related to the website’s format. So, if you want a program that improves Teacher Excellence, you’ll only find one that has shown positive effects, which may or may not be applicable to your district. But, the upside to this is that researchers and policy makers can more readily see where the gaps in evidence lie and start working to fill them in.
What’s Different about ESSA?
The Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) created the starting point for equity-based education reforms. It established categorical aid programs for specific subgroups that were at-risk of low academic achievement. “Title I” comes from this act- it created programs to improve education for low-income students. No Child Left Behind (NCLB) was a reauthorization of ESEA which gave more power to the federal government to ensure that all students received an equitable education and that standardized testing was the vehicle to assess high-standards for schools.
In 2015, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) again reauthorized ESEA and changed much of the language and policies of NCLB. At its foundation, the law gave a lot of decision-making power back to the states. Although state’s still need to have high-standards, test their students, and intervene in low-performing schools, the state’s themselves will have the power to determine the “how”.
This table below provides the key differences between NCLB and ESSA and was compiled from several sources (listed at the bottom) which provide a great deal more detail and specifics for those interested in learning more.