In December 2015, the United States Congress passed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) that reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA). ESSA was designed to support and grow local innovations by increasing flexibility and control of the state and local educational agencies on how students learn and achieve.

ESSA emphasizes the use of evidence-based activities, strategies, and interventions (collectively referred to as "interventions”). The term "evidence-based” in ESSA (20 U.S.C. § 8101) is defined as an activity, strategy, or intervention that demonstrates (or provides high-quality research to demonstrate) a significant effect on improving student outcomes or other relevant outcomes.  

ESSA further defines "evidence-based” intervention categories into four levels:

  • Strong evidence from at least one well-designed and well-implemented experimental study;

  • Moderate evidence from at least one well-designed and well-implemented quasi-experimental study; or

  • Promising evidence from at least one well-designed and well-implemented correlational study with statistical controls for selection bias; or

  • Demonstrates a rationale based on high-quality research findings or positive evaluation that such activity, strategy, or intervention is likely to improve student outcomes or other relevant outcomes; and includes ongoing efforts to examine the effects of such activity, strategy, or intervention.

This guide contains links to tools and resources to make it easier for schools and educators to understand, identify and implement evidence-based interventions.

Resources on ESSA

Finding Evidence-based Interventions

Additional Resources