Invitation to Submit Evidence-Based Whole-School Reform Strategies

Invitation to Submit Evidence-Based, Whole-School Reform Models
for Review and Identification for Use under the School Improvement Grants Program


  The U.S. Department of Education (Department) invites model developers and other entities and individuals to submit evidence-based whole-school reform models for review and identification for use by local educational agencies (LEAs) receiving funds under the School Improvement Grants (SIG) program, authorized under section 1003(g) of Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended the by No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.


On February 9, 2015, the Department published in the Federal Register a Notice of Final Requirements (NFR) for the SIG program. These final requirements apply to the competitions conducted beginning with fiscal year (FY) 2014 SIG funds. In fall 2014 and spring 2015, the Department invited strategy developers and other entities and individuals to submit prospective strategies and research studies of the effectiveness of those strategies for review against the requirements for evidence-based, whole-school reform strategies, as outlined in the NFR. The Department is once again inviting model developers and other entities and individuals to submit prospective evidence-based, whole-school reform models for review against the final requirements.

Any model approved by the Department pursuant to this call for evidence will be added to the existing list of approved evidence-based, whole-school reform models. An LEA applying to use SIG funds to implement an evidence-based, whole-school reform model in partnership with a whole-school reform model developer would be permitted to choose from among the models identified by the Department as meeting the requirements.

Final Model Requirements

Under the final requirements published in the NFR, an evidence-based whole-school reform model must:

  1. Have evidence of effectiveness that includes at least one study that:
    1. Meet What Works Clearinghouse evidence standards with or without reservations (i.e., are qualifying experimental or quasi-experimental studies);
    2. Found a statistically significant favorable impact on a student academic achievement or attainment outcome, with no statistically significant and overriding unfavorable impacts on that outcome for relevant populations in the study or in other studies of the intervention reviewed by and reported on by the What Works Clearinghouse; and
    3. If meeting What Works Clearinghouse evidence standards with reservations, includes a large sample and a multi-site sample as defined in 34 CFR 77.1 (Note: multiple studies can cumulatively meet the large and multi-site sample requirements so long as each study meets the other requirements listed here); and i
  2. Be designed to:
    1. Improve student academic achievement or attainment;
    2. Be implemented for all students in a school; and
    3. Address, at a minimum and in a coordinated manner, each of the following:
      1. School leadership;
      2. Teaching and learning in at least one full academic content area (including professional learning for educators);
      3. Student non-academic support; and
      4. Family and community engagement.

Submission Instructions and Deadline

Interested parties must submit the following to

  1. Up to two studies that provide evidence of effectiveness of the model consistent with Final Model Requirement (1) above; and
  2. A narrative description of the strategy that addresses each of the elements of Final Model Requirement (2) above.

Each study and narrative description should be submitted in PDF format as an attachment to the email submission. Any studies that are not publicly available will be made publicly available as part of the review process. Narrative descriptions of the strategy should be no longer than five pages.

So that the Department may identify models meeting requirements prior to SEAs’ competitions in spring 2016, submissions must be received no later than April 29, 2016.

Review and Identification Process

The Department will update its list of models identified as meeting requirements based on a review of submissions by What Works Clearinghouse-certified reviewers and Department staff. To be included in the list, a model must be submitted and reviewed through this process, regardless of whether the studies providing evidence of effectiveness of the model have been previously reviewed for the What Works Clearinghouse for another purpose. All of the models submitted in response to this invitation will be reviewed against the final requirements. 

The Department will not consider for review studies that, by design, examine the effectiveness only of specified components of a model (e.g., a school leadership or family and community engagement component). In addition, the Department will not consider studies that only provide evidence of effectiveness of a model on outcomes other than student academic achievement or attainment (e.g., student behavioral outcomes).

We note that, consistent with the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016, the NFR also allows an LEA to use SIG funds to implement an alternative State-determined model. Each SEA may submit in its application for SIG funds one such model for approval by the Secretary (please see sections I.A.3 and II.B.1(b) of the NFR for additional information on the requirements for a State-determined model). An SEA may, if it chooses, submit a prospective model and research studies of the effectiveness of its proposed model for review against the evidence requirements described above and the definition of “whole-school reform model.” An SEA that submits a model that meets the requirements for the evidence-based, whole-school reform model would not need to submit any additional evidence for the Secretary to approve that evidence-based, whole school reform model as the State-determined model.

Contact Information
Please submit any questions to


i “ What Works Clearinghouse Procedures and Standards Handbook (Version 3.0), which can currently be found at the following link: