Do Approved ESSA Plans Meet the Multi-tiered Systems of Support Requirement?

4 min. read

Now that all 50 ESSA plans have been approved by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, we have a clearer window into each state’s accountability roadmap and goals, including strategies to meet the requirement of providing struggling learners with evidence-based interventions.

So, what does this new window show us exactly? A recent post on the Frontline Research and Learning Institute’s blog explores this question by outlining four key findings from an independent peer review of ESSA plans conducted by The Collaborative for Student Success, in partnership with Bellwether Education Partners.

Key Findings on Evidence-based Interventions Data in Approved ESSA Plans

ESSA gives states the flexibility to implement whichever multi-tiered system of support framework leadership deems the best fit for local schools. However, ESSA does require that districts adopt a systematic approach for data-based decision making that supports a rapid response to students’ needs.

The bipartisan peer review examined each state’s plan against ESSA’s equity-focused mission and is comprised of feedback from 45 reviewers, including former state chiefs, former education leaders, former teachers and members of the civil rights and disability communities.

Here are some key findings:

  • Finding #1: Only 23% of state ESSA plans analyzed were seen to have outlined a school-support plan that could be used as a model for other states.
  • Finding #2: 56% of states did not provide details outlining how they plan to use the 7% of set-aside funding required for school improvement programs that include “evidence-based” interventions.
  • Finding #3: While ESSA allows for an additional (optional) 3% of set-aside funding to be used to strengthen school improvement programs, 80% of states did not identify how/if they plan to use this 3%.
  • Finding #4: The peer review looked for clear mentions of recognized intervention frameworks, such as RTI and MTSS, in state ESSA plans and found that many states are leaving the selection of a specific framework up to individual districts.

Do states identify how/if they plan to use the optional 3% set-aside funding for school improvement programs?

How State ESSA Plans Say They’ll Support Evidence-Based Interventions

Source: The Frontline Research & Learning Institute. (2018, October 24). New Research: How State ESSA Plans Say They’ll Support Evidence-Based Interventions. Retrieved from https://www.frontlineinstitute.com/blog/new-research-how-state-essa-plans-say-theyll-support-evidence-based-interventions

Using Data to Drive School Improvement

Implementation of ESSA plans will continue this year, as will our ability to see if the plans hold real promise for education equity, accountability and systematic, data-based decision making.

However, as noted by the Institute post, we know that strong leadership at all levels of the education system will be key to upholding ESSA’s mission. It will fall to leaders to start the ball rolling when it comes to gathering, using and sharing insights derived from only the highest quality data.

Resources for District Leaders

As you lead the way towards establishing or re-validating the continuum of evidence-based practices in your district, these resources may be helpful:

  • Engage in key questions regarding equity and special education classification with this Equity Roadmap
  • Learn how to perform an efficient RTI/MTSS academic screening process check-up with this eBook
  • Compare your feelings on RTI/MTSS with those of your colleagues in K-12 education with these survey results

Read the full Frontline Research & Learning Institute post here.

Planning data-based interventions with an equity focus this year? Frontline’s RTI/MTSS Program Management software helps you collect high-quality, ready-to-use data on each learner. Schedule a Demo.

Danielle Simbajon

Danielle is part of the global, award-winning content team at Frontline Education. She graduated from Emerson College with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Writing, Literature and Publishing, and has developed content to empower the education community for over 10 years.