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4 Strategies for Districts to Successfully Implement Evidence-Based Practices

In this February 4, 2016, photo, fourth-grade teacher Jessica Ries leads a cheer to prepare her Hayward Elementary School students for a writing assessment test in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Endnotes and citations are available in the PDF and Scribd versions.

The recent passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act presents districts with an opportunity to implement evidence-based school improvement strategies. The Center for American Progress’ report, “Strategies to Improve Low-performing Schools under the Every Student Succeeds Act,” is an informative resource to help districts implement evidence-based practices and set the structure to improve low-performing schools.

The report examines how three school districts implemented five evidence-based practices:

  • Data-driven instruction
  • Excellence in teaching and leadership
  • Culture of high expectations
  • Frequent and intensive tutoring, or so-called high dosage tutoring
  • Extended school day and year

Here are four steps to help districts achieve success when implementing evidence-based practices in traditional public schools.

  1. Allot a sufficient amount of planning time. In order to facilitate a smoother implementation, districts should set aside at least one year for planning and prepare for mid-course corrections.
  2. Implement school-level budgeting. School-level budgeting allows school leaders to fill teaching positions that best fit student needs and tailor implemented practices to a particular school.
  3. Aggressively recruit, hire, and train school leaders and teachers. Effectively selecting and preparing innovative school leaders will secure excellent principal leadership. These school leaders will then have the skills to develop and retain a strong teacher pipeline.
  4. Obtain stakeholder investment. Districts should engage school boards, unions, teachers, parents, and the community in the planning and implementation processes. Data and word-of-mouth are powerful tools to convince stakeholders that evidence-based practices are an effective school improvement strategy.


Chelsea Straus is a Policy Analyst for the K-12 Education Policy team at American Progress. Tiffany D. Miller is the Director of Education Innovation at American Progress.