ESSA Effectiveness

In 2015, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) introduced definitions and requirements for demonstrating evidence of effectiveness for educational programs.

ESSA Evidence Tiers

The ESSA evidence tier system encourages the use of educational programs that are supported by rigorous research evidence:



One well-designed and well-implemented experimental study (randomized control trial)



One well-designed and well-implemented quasi-experimental study



One well-designed and well-implemented correlational study with statistical controls for selection bias



Demonstrates rationale based on high-quality research findings or positive evaluation that suggests a likelihood to improve student outcomes

1Non-Regulatory Guidance: Using Evidence to Strengthen Education Investments, 2016,

Additional Criteria

1. Publication date

Due to the rapid improvements often made to digital learning solutions, studies completed more than 10 years ago may not accurately or appropriately reflect the effectiveness of currently available programs.

Studies that include more students, schools, and school districts are more capable of detecting the true effect of the program on student outcomes and the observed results are more likely to be replicable in different student populations.

Positive research results that are statistically significant demonstrate that the observed outcomes can be confidently attributed to the evaluated program and not due to some other factor(s).

Many categorically similar study participants or groups may prematurely exit a study for a variety of reasons. When this occurs, research rigor may be compromised.

Imagine Learning ESSA Research

Imagine Learning partners with independent research firms to conduct ESSA-aligned research every year. Besides demonstrating evidence of effectiveness, these studies and research partnerships provide a wealth of information that is translated into product enhancements, added supports for educators, and research publications for the advancement of effective educational practices.


Strong Moderate Promising Rationale Research

Supplemental & Intervention Reading

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Core Reading

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Strong Moderate Promising Rationale Research

Supplemental & Intervention STEM

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STEM Courseware

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Strong Moderate Promising Rationale Research


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