How Can Districts Find Evidence-Based Programs Under ESSA? Ask Cleveland

September 16, 2016

Strategic Data Project Fellow, Matthew Linick, shares Cleveland's approach to the role of research in helping school leaders make better decisions on school improvement.

Want to see how research can play a key role in helping school leaders make better decisions on school improvement? Take a look at Cleveland metropolitan schools' approach to academic resources.

The district is in the process of reviewing every program and intervention to establish what it does, how much research backs it, and how well it works within district schools.

"There is a real value of information and data here and a real hunger for it," said  Matthew Linick, the district's executive director for research and evaluation. "One of the first conversations I had with members of leadership was, we don't just want to know what's working, but what is working for us."

Cleveland is ahead of the curve with regard to the Every Student Succeeds Act's new evidence requirements and its newly released guidance on how to apply research to school improvement, which we wrote about last week. Linick said he found the new approach "reaffirming the direction we are already going," but added, "We've really taken the opportunity to think about how this is going to affect us for the next 15 years."

Like a growing number of districts nationwide, Cleveland gives its principals significant autonomy to plan their own budgets and school improvement, and that means Linick and the district's other research staff "can't just do the evaluations, then walk into the CEO's office and inform him on what to buy." 

Instead, the district is creating a web-based directory of academic resources available to principals, based on both external research and internal evaluation of the programs.  Read more at Education Week.