User Stories | February 5, 2019

Meeting ESSA’s evidence-based requirement with video

There has been a fundamental shift in education policy in the past decade - a “hands off” approach - encouraged by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) which places more onus on state education agencies (SEAs) to implement accountability, school improvement, and professional development for teachers as the states see fit. While guidance from ESSA framers may be vague in places, the argument can be made that more flexibility allows (and perhaps, empowers) SEAs to choose what interventions will be necessary to overcome local challenges and still meet state-wide school and teacher improvement goals.


Consider, for example that ESSA prohibits the federal government from meddling in states’ educator performance review processes meaning that many states have opted to remove student achievement factors from evaluations entirely. And one area which has seen a marked shift is in the allocation of Title I funds for the lowest performing schools in each state. Up to 7 percent of Title I funds may now be used to back school improvement strategies that rely on what ESSA broadly defines as: “evidence-based interventions.”


What are ‘evidence-based interventions’ according to ESSA? The law does not explicitly identify them, but it does recommend resources where SEAs can start their search to finding the right programs and strategies to match their needs.


ESSA recommends vetting from What Works Clearinghouse (WWC): a public database of “what works in education.” Their collection of programs, products, practices, and policies aim to help school and district leaders choose effective, replicable educational interventions that are right for their organization.


With that in mind, we did take a peek at some of the recommendations by WWC. We also cross-referenced some of the choices that certain states, like Nevada and Massachusetts, are using for their teacher growth, improvement, and retention interventions - namely The New Teacher Project, Achievement Network, and New Teacher Center. What do these three organizations have in common you ask? Lots to be sure, but they all promote using video as an evidence-based tool for professional growth in teachers.


We found another takeaway in the language of the ESSA which makes it clear that an intervention backed by “strong,” “moderate,” or “promising” evidence qualifies its use with Title I funds. Many studies we have found qualifying as strong evidence as defined by ESSA also discuss the efficacy of video-based interventions.


Whether your video intervention is applied to teacher self-improvement (see: Harvard or John Hopkins Universities’ studies), fairer and more holistic observations (Brookings Institute), or flipping classrooms (ASCD) to improve student engagement, it seems clear that video-based methodologies check a very important box when it comes to ESSA. Unlike other strategies where examination has to be relied upon by a human observer, video evidence frankly can’t be disputed.


Video not only meets ESSA’s definition of a "strong" evidence-based intervention requirement, but is extremely convenient and cost-effective. Teachers can record themselves on their own time, share content with one another, a coach, mentor, or school leaders to receive feedback (remotely), and exemplar content can be gathered to share more broadly across the organization for holistic professional development. As it so happens, we have tools to help SEAs build thoughtful, flexible, and well-crafted video programs - video programs that empower teachers and coaches with autonomy to use video for self-enhancement and growth while creatively engaging their students, while also complying with ESSA.

Is your organization meeting ESSA’s evidence-based intervention requirement with video? Drop us a line in the comments below or email us at: to let us know!