Kim Gibbons Associate Director Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement (CAREI)

For the past decade, there has been a great deal of emphasis on implementing interventions and instructional practices grounded in research to improve student outcomes. In fact, “scientific research-based interventions” (SRBI) interventions became codified into law in the case of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 and the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001. With NCLB being reauthorized as Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the term SRBI has been replaced by “evidence- based interventions” (EBI). This shift was made to help increase the impact of educational investments by ensuring that interventions have been proven to be effective in leading to the desired outcomes.

So, what does the term EBI mean? In a nutshell, evidence-based intervention are programs or practices that have evidence to show that they are effective at producing results and improving outcomes when implemented. Under ESSA there are four tiers of evidence:

  • Tier 1 – Strong Evidence: Practices supported by one or more well designed and well-implemented randomized control experimental studies.
  • Tier 2 – Moderate Evidence: Practices supported by one or more well designed and well-implemented quasi-experimental studies.
  • Tier 3 – Promising Practice: Practices supported by one or more well-designed and well-implemented correlational studies with statistical controls for selection bias.
  • Tier 4 – Demonstrating a Rational: Practices that have a well-defined logic model, are supported by research, and some effort underway by an SEA, LEA, or outside research organization to determine their effectiveness.

While selecting an EBI is an important first step, it is critical to evaluate implementation in your setting and context. Good strategies validated by research often fail at the local level for many reasons including:

  • Diverse populations: Many educational research studies are based on relatively homogeneous samples making it difficult to generalize to diverse classrooms and schools.
  • Resources: EBI’s with strong research support may require resources that would be difficult for a classroom teacher or a building to obtain
  • Match to school culture: Schools need to determine the fit between their school culture and the EBI to see if the theoretical orientation, teacher preparedness, and openness to change of the EBI match with their culture.
  • Sustainability: Implementing an EBI is only effective is the practice is sustained over time. Sustainability requires a focus on fidelity of implementation, coaching and support, and leadership. Effective intervention practices or models coupled with ineffective or inefficient implementation will result in ineffective, unsustainable program and outcomes!

CAREI understands that many districts do not have the internal capacity to evaluate the both the impact and the implementation of EBI’s. CAREI continues to provide support to Minnesota School Districts in their implementation and evaluation efforts through membership in the CAREI District Assembly. Last year, 51 school districts joined the assembly. This year, we hope to double that number! We have three membership options available to better meet your needs and have added a variety of services to assist you in your quest to improve outcomes. For more information on CAREI or joining the CAREI District Assembly, please visit our website at or contact me at

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