The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) presents states with unprecedented flexibility over, and responsibility for, the use of research evidence in their policies and practices. ESSA places a heightened importance on the use of research evidence as a critical tool for planning, collaborating, decision making, and continuous improvement. ESSA also includes both mandates and suggestions for states to incorporate research evidence into their interventions, programs, and funding patterns to ensure better outcomes for schools and students. As state education agencies (SEAs) begin to think about the implications of this new law, it is imperative that all parties fully understand the requirements and opportunities under ESSA, as well as the barriers and challenges that may be encountered in carrying out these new requirements. Additionally, various other stakeholders can help ensure that states are well-equipped and supported to take full advantage of this opportunity. This meeting convened national organizations, research institutions, assistance providers, funders investing in research capacity, and representatives from SEAs to converse, build relationships, and identify concrete, actionable steps moving forward under ESSA.
In this meeting, participants:
- Assessed the requirements and opportunities to incorporate research evidence into policy and practice under ESSA;
- Discussed the challenges and limitations states may face in conducting, acquiring, or using research evidence under ESSA;
- Examined the relationships or potential relationships both within and between departments in SEAs that may affect the implementation of these requirements;
- Explored the role that research-practice-policy partnerships can play in meeting states’ research needs;
- Collectively generated strategies to develop the comprehensive and collaborative state research plans required under ESSA; and
- Identified remaining questions and considerations for the future.
Takeaways for participants from states:
- Participants left with a more nuanced understanding of the use of research evidence required and encouraged under ESSA.
- Participants identified their capacity to either conduct or acquire the research needed under ESSA.
- Participants identified concrete strategies for developing the comprehensive and collaborative state research plans required under ESSA.
Takeaways for other stakeholders:
- Participants gained a deeper understanding of the research needs of states.
- Participants gained insight into how best to support the work of states in acquiring and using research evidence under ESSA.