7 Ways District Leaders Can Invest in Evidence-Based Approaches in the Next School Year

Results for America

With budget season upon us and planning for the 2022-23 school year well underway, district and school leaders have important decisions to make about how to best support educators, students, and families as we continue to build toward a stronger and more equitable education system in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Drawing on the library of EdResearch for Recovery briefs released over the past two years, here are 7 evidence-based strategies we hope districts prioritize in budgets and programmatic decisions this coming fall:

  1. Accelerating Student Learning with High-Dosage Tutoring. Rigorous research provides strong evidence that high-dosage tutoring can produce large learning gains for a wide range of students, including those who have fallen behind academically.
  2. Supports for Students in Immigrant Families. Culturally relevant, asset-framed communications with students and families in multiple languages and formats may increase family and caregiver involvement, improve home-school connections, and improve student engagement.
  3. District Strategies To Reduce Absenteeism. Missing school negatively affects academic and socioemotional outcomes for all students, but the impacts are largest for low-performing, low-income, and English learner students. A combination of broad-based, preventative supports and more targeted strategies, backed by evidence, can improve student engagement and attendance.
  4. Preparing Schools to Meet the Needs of Students Coping with Trauma and Toxic Stress. Whole-school strategies for addressing trauma tend to be more effective than strategies that focus only on identifying individual students for secondary intervention; simultaneous investments in staff mental health can improve outcomes for both students and staff members.
  5. Improving Teaching Practice with Instructional Coaching. Evidence strongly suggests that a well-designed instructional coaching program improves teacher practice and student outcomes. In fact, instructional coaching generates substantial improvements in student achievement at a lower cost per student than student-level interventions such as high-dosage tutoring or summer learning programs.
  6. Structural Supports to Promote Teacher Well-Being. A culture of mutual trust, respect, and open communication among teachers and school leaders allows them to work together to improve practices and solve problems. In particular, a districtwide commitment to social and racial justice and to affirming educators’ identities can help counter the forces that contribute to high rates of burnout and turnover for teachers of color - and lead to greater satisfaction and retention.
  7. Leveraging Community Partnerships for Integrated Student Support. The work of schools to support students and their families can be amplified through strong partnerships with community-based organizations (CBOs), in particular culturally specific CBOs that have a foundation of strong relational trust with students and families.

P.S. Even as you look ahead to next fall, we know many districts will offer learning opportunities for students this summer. Check out our new Summer Learning Toolkit for a practical guide to more deeply understand what high-quality summer learning looks like, critically reflect on your current programming, and strengthen your plan for this and future summers. This toolkit builds off our brief on designing summer learning experiences and partnerships with districts in Rhode Island and Tennessee.

P.P.S. We are always looking for input on new topics to take on and ways to strengthen our briefs. Share your questions and suggestions with us here!