ESSA Qualifications for Tier 4

How Exemplars Qualifies for ESSA Tier 4

Passed in 2015, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), ensures that all students have access to an equitable education that fully prepares them for success in college and careers.1

ESSA incorporates the concept of "evidence-based" into legislation to ensure that the approaches and programs being implemented effectively improve educational outcomes and close achievement gaps. In order for a school or district to spend federal funds on educational products or services, ESSA requires that the product or service meet its standards.

ReContext Data Solutions, LLC, an independent, outside research organization, has determined that Exemplars materials and pedagogy is "evidence-based" and meets ESSA's Tier 4 standards.

To demonstrate a basis for Tier 4, Exemplars provides evidence that meets the following standards:


Evidence must show a clear logic model that explains the reasons for the product design and how utilizing it will result in the desired outcomes.

Evidence: The Exemplars website provides links to product reviews and research that support the use of performance-based assessment, embedded problem solving and hands-on learning constructs. The site claims that the products will enhance users' abilities to "improve assessment and instruction while meeting state, national and Common Core standards." The site highlights the following themes in the research as the basis for product design:

  1. Students who do demanding work in school perform better than students who are given less demanding work.
  2. Student achievement is strongly related to effective assessment practices in the classroom, including student self- and peer-assessment.
  3. The style of classroom instruction influences student performance.


Evidence must show research that supports the logic model.

Evidence: Of the listed research, study number 1 (Bryk) supports claim number 1 above. Study number 2 (Black) supports claims 2 and 3. Study number 3 (Ruby) supports claims 1 and 2. Study number 7 (Devens-Seligman) supports claims 1 and 3. Because of this, each of the claims is supported by at least two of the studies cited on the Exemplars web site.


Evidence must demonstrate an ongoing effort to study the impact of the program on student outcomes in partnership with an SEA, LEA or research organization. Study results must be made available to the public.

Evidence: Exemplars has a data-sharing agreement in place with a school district in Georgia, which allows them to study the impact of the products and services and publish the results. Exemplars has demonstrated the intent, infrastructure and progress towards publication of these results. As of the conclusion of this study, we anticipate publication of these results within 6 months.
Based on these findings, David Adler, ReContext Data Solutions, LLC states, "Using the definitions of ESSA's tiers of evidence, it is our opinion that Exemplars evidence achieves Tier 4 standards compliance."

As a result of Tier 4 standards compliance, schools and districts may use federal funds made available through ESSA to purchase Exemplars performance materials and professional development.