ESSA-Aligned Solutions

On December 10, 2015, President Barack Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which replaced the No Child Left Behind Act and reauthorized the 50-year-old Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the nation’s national education law and longstanding commitment to equal opportunity for all students.

ESSA offers state education agencies the opportunity to use evidence to support school improvement and better outcomes for all students. This evidence-based approach encourages state and district leaders to consider multiple tiers of evidence and examine the strength of evidence when making decisions about which solutions to purchase or implement.

ESSA's definition of “evidence-based” includes four levels of evidence. The type of evidence described has generally been produced through formal studies and research. The strength of the study is used to classify the level of evidence.

ESSA Evidence

StrongModerate Promising Demonstrates a RationaleDownload the Data Sheet
Professional Development

LETRS: Provides educators with an in-depth understanding of the science of reading instruction, and gives them the background and knowledge to teach language and literacy skills to every student

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Strong Moderate Promising Demonstrates a RationaleDownload the Data Sheet

LANGUAGE! Live: Comprehensive, blended ELA solution for struggling readers in grades 5–12

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Passport: Research-based strategic reading intervention for K–5 students reading below grade level

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Step Up to Writing: Writing instruction designed for learners of all levels and types in grades K–12

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Passport Reading Journeys (PRJ): Engaging, research-based intervention for adolescent students

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TimeWarp Plus: Engaging, hands-on adventure-based literacy intervention for students in grades K–9.

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Read Well: Research-based K–3 ELA solution that builds critical reading skills

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REWARDS: Short-term reading and writing intervention for students in grades 4–12.

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LANGUAGE! Fourth Edition: Intensive, intervention ELA solution for grades 4–12

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Sound Partners: Explicit, balanced, phonics-based tutoring instruction program for early reading skills

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Stepping Stones to Literacy: Research-based program for early learners who have been identified as at risk for reading failure

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StrongModerate Promising Demonstrates a RationaleDownload the Data Sheet

TransMath: Math intervention for middle and high school students lacking foundational skills to enter algebra

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Vmath: Targeted math intervention for students in grades 2–8 to help them master critical math concepts and skills.

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Understanding ESSA Evidence

Within the law, evidence-based solutions are described as programs showing evidence of producing positive academic student outcomes. Specifically, the type of evidence backed by formal research and studies. ESSA criteria define four tiers of evidence: Strong, Moderate, Promising and Demonstrates a Rationale.

Guide to Understanding ESSAWhile collecting and reviewing evidence, it is important to understand the different types of evidence and how to assess the quality of each. Each evidence type has the potential to contribute to a consumer’s decision regarding the use of a specific intervention. We created a resource guide, Evidence-Based Claims: A Helpful Guide to Understanding ESSA, to help distill this information.

The chart below identifies four different types of evidence—anecdotal, descriptive, correlational, causal—and highlights strengths and considerations of each evidence type. Also, below is a Voyager Sopris Learning webinar video clip, which may be helpful.

Evidence TypeStrengthsConsiderations and Limitations


May provide an indication of the context in which the intervention may be expected to be effective.

May identify aspects from user experience that may enhance or reduce effectiveness.

May help identify interventions that are promising enough to warrant more research.

Cannot provide strong support for claims based on subjective impressions.


May help identify interventions that are promising enough to warrant more rigorous research.

Does not include a comparison group so impossible to know what would have happened without the intervention.

Cannot alone provide strong support for claims about effect on outcome of interest.


Useful starting point when learning about new interventions.

Cannot conclusively demonstrate that intervention gets results because it cannot rule out other possible explanations for differences in outcomes among users and non-users.


Determines effectiveness with confidence.

Ensures only difference between treatment group and comparison group is the intervention itself.

Not readily available for many educational products.

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