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The Three E’s of ESSA

Professional Growth

teacher writing notes at her desk

Last month we released the first episode of “What you need to know about ESSA,” a four-part podcast series dedicated to helping school and district leaders implement the Every Student Succeeds Act in a way that maximizes the opportunity in front of them.

The first episode focused on the key differences between ESSA and the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), namely in the areas of flexibility, transparency, and philosophy. You can read about it here.

In this episode, my colleague, David DeSchryver, and I focus on “The Three E’s of ESSA” — evidence, equity and efficacy — and how they provide both a framework for compliance and a set of opportunities for school and district leaders.


Programmatic evidence, such as the data and research behind a tool or program you’re going to implement, is important for a smooth implementation. However, there are also fiscal implications when it comes to evidence. In the podcast, we discuss why school and district leaders need to know whether the program they’re implementing is a low-risk investment that has a track record of success before they allocate funds.


We also discuss how focusing on equity is paramount for a successful implementation of ESSA. School and district leaders have an opportunity to find ways to meet the specific needs of individual students rather than implementing a one-size-fits-all program that may fail to provide returns on the investment of ESSA (or any) funds.


Finally, we discuss efficacy. In the traditional sense, efficacy implies the real-life student learning that takes place because of the program’s implementation. But efficacy in this framework also involves accounting for the instructional direction teachers and educational leaders are headed as they go about furthering student learning.

Learn more about the nuances of the three E’s of ESSA in our brief, 9-minute podcast – and check out the rest of the series, covering supporting the “whole child” and preparing teachers and leaders for the changes.

Listen to the Podcast

To learn more about ESSA and how it will affect your professional development, download our series of “Bridging the Gap” Reports.

Sarah Silverman

Dr. Sarah Silverman, Ph.D. is Vice President at Whiteboard Advisors where she advises on education, workforce and wellness policy. Her prior work includes managing the Pre-K-12 education portfolio at National Governors Association Education and consulting with states and districts on performance management and teacher evaluation policy reform at TNTP.