BookNook Insights

The Power of Proof: Understanding ESSA's Tiers of Evidence

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BookNook is thrilled to have achieved Tier 1 status, indicating that we stand at the forefront of evidence-based interventions. This achievement underscores our commitment to making a measurable difference in student learning with our synchronous online learning platform.

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ESSA Level 1 Badge


The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) introduced a framework for evaluating the effectiveness of educational programs, practices, and interventions. This framework is known as the ESSA tiers of evidence, and it categorizes evidence into four levels, guiding educators and policymakers in making informed decisions to improve student outcomes. Understanding these tiers is crucial for schools and districts to choose interventions with a proven success track record.


Tier 1: Strong Evidence

The pinnacle of the evidence tiers, Tier 1, is reserved for interventions supported by one or more well-designed and well-implemented randomized control trials (RCTs). This means the intervention has been rigorously tested and demonstrated a statistically significant effect on improving student outcomes. Interventions that reach this tier provide the strongest assurance of effectiveness.

Tier 2: Moderate Evidence

Tier 2 requires interventions to have evidence from well-designed and well-implemented quasi-experimental designs (QEDs). These are studies that, while not randomized, still provide a reliable measure of an intervention's effectiveness. To be considered moderate evidence, these studies must demonstrate a statistically significant effect on improving student outcomes.

Tier 3: Promising Evidence

This tier includes interventions with evidence from well-designed and well-implemented correlational studies with statistical controls for selection bias. In other words, these interventions show a positive effect on student outcomes. Still, the evidence is not as strong as Tiers 1 or 2 because it is not from an experiment or quasi-experiment.

Tier 4: Demonstrates a Rationale

Tier 4 is for interventions supported by a rationale based on high-quality research findings or positive evaluation that such interventions will likely improve student outcomes. However, these interventions might not yet have the empirical evidence that meets the requirements of the higher tiers.


Implications for Schools and Districts

The implications of the ESSA tiers of evidence are profound. They shape how districts allocate resources and select interventions. Schools are encouraged to use interventions with higher-tier evidence, as these have been more effective. This approach ensures that educational practices are grounded in research and likely produce the best student outcomes.

Additionally, the ESSA evidence tiers serve as a roadmap for continuous improvement. As schools implement interventions and collect data on their effectiveness, they contribute to the body of evidence, potentially elevating an intervention to a higher tier.

Understanding the ESSA evidence tiers highlights the importance of selecting evidence-based interventions. Moreover, it provides assurance that programs such as BookNook's are not just based on well-intentioned theories but are grounded in practices proven to be effective.

For Parents and Families

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) tiers of evidence provide a valuable framework for parents and caregivers who are invested in their children's educational success. The significance and importance of these tiers for parents and caregivers are manifold:

  1. Assurance of Quality: The ESSA evidence tiers help parents and caregivers understand the quality of educational programs and interventions. Programs that meet higher tiers of evidence have been rigorously evaluated and shown to be effective. This means that when parents and caregivers choose a program like BookNook, which has achieved Tier 1 status, they can be confident that it has a strong track record of success.
  2. Advocacy: Knowledge of the tiers can help parents and caregivers advocate for effective interventions in their child’s school. They can push for programs with higher-tier evidence to be implemented, ensuring their children and peers get the best educational support.
  3. Encouraging Engagement: When parents know that their child’s school uses evidence-based interventions, they might be more likely to engage with the school and their child’s education. Knowing that a school invests in high-quality programs can motivate parents to become more involved.
  4. Supporting At-Home Learning: Parents and caregivers can extend evidence-based learning outside of school by choosing programs and practices for at-home learning that align with ESSA evidence tiers. This can reinforce the learning in school and provide additional support where needed.

The ESSA tiers of evidence are more than just a regulatory requirement; they are a guide for educational excellence. As we strive to enhance student learning, platforms like BookNook play a critical role in delivering research-driven instruction that meets the highest standard of evidence, helping to ensure that every student has the opportunity to succeed.