New Requirements for Federal Spending

  • The current authorization of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (the Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA) emphasizes using academic interventions with evidence of success in improving outcomes for students. Federal funds (e.g., Title I, Comprehensive Support and Improvement funds) can be used to purchase only "evidence-based" interventions.

    This means that City Schools staff members can use Title I or other federal dollars only toward interventions that meet the requirements for evidence. Vendors and program providers are encouraged to consider collecting and documenting evidence of the effectiveness of their products, so that schools will have greater flexibility in making purchasing decisions.

    Learn more in this narrated slide presentation or by scrolling down for answers to frequently asked questions. 

     Also review information about the federal Education Department general administrative regulations (EDGAR)

    More about "evidence"

    What are "evidence-based" interventions?

    Under ESSA, these are practices, strategies, activities, or programs that have been proven effective in leading to a particular outcome. That is, these interventions have evidence to show that they produce results. 

    What kind of evidence is needed to demonstrate that an intervention is effective?

    There are four levels:

    • 1 — Strong evidence. This requires an experimental study, typically involving a randomized control trial. For example, if 100 teachers apply to participate in a professional development intervention but only 50 available slots are available, an experimental study could compare outcomes for students under the 50 teachers who received the PD against those of students under the 50 who did not.
    • 2 — Moderate evidence. This requires a quasi-experimental study. For example, a study could compare two groups of similar classrooms, one of which had teachers who received the PD and the other of which has teachers who did not, controlling for differences (e.g., student poverty). 
    • 3 — Promising evidence. This requires a study with statistical controls that support showing that a positive outcome is correlated with the intervention. For example, a study could test students before and after a teacher received the PD intervention to determine whether there was a statistically significant improvement in student outcomes.
    • 4 — Demonstrates a rationale. No study exists yet, but the intervention is informed by research and there is a study underway.

    If there is no evidence, the intervention receives no rating and is not considered evidence based.

    Please note that completed studies for levels 1, 2, or 3 must show positive quantitative benefits on student or other relevant outcomes; test for statistical significance; and analyze a comparison group that did not receive the intervention. Research that does not have a comparison (control) group does not meet ESSA requirements.

    Can federal funds be used to purchase interventions with any of these evidence levels?

    Please take careful note of the following: Federal funds can be used to purchase interventions with evidence levels 1 to 4, though Priority/Comprehensive Support and Improvement (CSI) funds can be used only toward interventions with evidence levels 1 to 3. Federal funds cannot be used to purchase interventions with no rating.

    Where can I find out more?

    The U.S. Department of Education has issued guidance on Using Evidence to Strengthen Education Investments. Vendors and City Schools staff members are encouraged to review this document.

     

    Information for staff

    How do I know if I can use Title I or other federal funds for an intervention I want to purchase?

    City Schools has developed an ESSA Evidence Catalog link opens Excel file that lists evidence levels for interventions. These can be purchased with federal funds (noting the restrictions described above with respect to CSI funds) if the purchase also complies with all other relevant procurement requirements. This catalog will be updated on an ongoing basis as more interventions acquire the required evidence base, so check back often.

    What if I want to purchase an intervention that's not in the catalog?

    If there is an evidence base for the intervention, ask the vendor to email to City Schools a completed study or evaluation; documentation from Evidence for ESSA or the What Works Clearinghouse; or the logic model/theory of action for the intervention and a description of the in-process study. If there is no evidence base, the intervention can still be purchased as long as no federal funds are used and all other relevant procurement requirements are met.

    Can I used federal funds if my purchase has already been approved by the Board through City Schools' procurement process?

    Not necessarily, as the Board may have approved the purchase prior to these requirements going into effect or approved a purchase that does not meet the level of evidence required for your funding source (e.g., levels 1 to 3 if CSI funds are being used). If you are seeking to spend Title I or other federal funds in FY19 for an intervention and no evidence level was specified during the Board approval process, please consult the ESSA Evidence Catalog link opens Excel file.

     

    Information for vendors and program providers

     Vendors and program providers: Join us for an information session - July 23, 5:30 to 7 p.m. at Fort Worthington Elementary/Middle School; August 1, 5:30 to 7 p.m. at Frederick Elementary School; or August 9, 8:30 to 10 a.m. at the district office

    How do I know if this applies to me?

    Most individual schools in Baltimore City Public Schools (as well as the district office) have access to funds from different sources, including Title I and other federal dollars. It is in your interest to meet ESSA's evidence standards for your intervention so that schools will have more funding sources to consider for purchasing your product or service. However, schools do have discretion to use non-federal funds for purchases, so ask your point of contact in the school or district office whether federal or other funding sources are being considered for the purchase. 

    How does City Schools let me know if my evidence base is accepted?

    • Vendors can check the ESSA Evidence Catalog link opens Excel file to see if their intervention is listed. If it is, the intervention will be available for purchase with federal funds by schools or the district office (as long as it also meets other relevant requirements under City Schools' procurement policy).
    • For purchases exceeding $25,000 for which Board approval is necessary (under City Schools' procurement policy), City Schools will provide you with an ESSA Evidence Review Confirmation along with the Board letter approving the purchase. This confirmation documents eligibility of your intervention for purchase with Title I or other federal dollars, within constraints of the Board approval and any other relevant requirements under the district's procurement policy.

    How do I make sure my intervention is listed in the ESSA Evidence Catalog link opens Excel file or update information the catalog includes?

    If there is an evidence base for the intervention, email to City Schools a completed study or evaluation; documentation from Evidence for ESSA or the What Works Clearinghouse; or the logic model/theory of action for the intervention and a description of the in-process study. For information on logic models (for evidence level 4), see the U.S. Department of Education's guidance on Using Evidence to Strengthen Education Investments.

    I received an ESSA Evidence Review Confirmation from City Schools. What does it mean?

    • If the confirmation indicates evidence level 1, 2, or 3 and your intervention meets the relevant procurement processes and requirements, your intervention is eligible for purchase with federal funds, including general Title I funds and Priority/Comprehensive Support and Improvement (CSI) funds.
    • If the confirmation indicates evidence level 4 and your intervention meets the relevant procurement processes and requirements, your intervention is eligible for purchase with federal funds, with the exception of Priority/CSI funds.
    • If the confirmation gives no rating, your intervention is not eligible for purchase with federal funds. However, it if meets relevant procurement processes and requirements, it may be purchased with other available funding sources.

    How do I submit the results of a study or evaluation?

    Please email the results to City Schools.

    I would like to conduct a study in City Schools. What do I do?

    Please review the information on City Schools website. Note that City Schools is updating its process to allow researchers to indicate that the study is related to evidence requirements under ESSA, so that the study can receive expedited processing through the institutional review board (IRB). 

    I do not have a completed study and I have no study in process. What can I do if a school or the district wants to purchase my services with federal funds?

    Your intervention cannot be purchased with federal funds, with one possible exception: If you are not completing a study because your service includes implementation of an intervention developed by another organization, please email City Schools with a description of how you plan to implement the intervention, any relevant past experience or training you or your organization has, and any evidence of your organization's effectiveness in intervention implementation. These situations will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.