The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is the major source of federal funding for public school education in the United States, especially through its close-to $16-billion Title I section, aimed at improving education for disadvantaged students. The law also encourages—and in some cases requires—that applicants for its various funding streams determine that their programs are backed by documented evidence of effectiveness. Under the law, evidence of effectiveness is classified into four categories, or “tiers,” of progressively more rigorous evidence. The top three tiers provide the most credible evidence—and are generally a pre-requisite for funding under Title I.
This independent analysis by Abt Associates examines RAND Corporation research about The Wallace Foundation’s Principal Pipeline Initiative, which helped six large districts set up a systematic approach to training, hiring and support of school principals. The RAND research found that the approach, known as building a principal pipeline, had a positive effect on student achievement in both reading and math, as well as on principal retention. (The 2019 report describing this research is Principal Pipelines: A Feasible, Affordable, and Effective Way for Districts to Improve Schools.)
The Abt analysis determined that the research is of sufficient quality to meet Tier II for its student achievement findings and Tier III for its findings on principal retention. This establishes the eligibility of pipeline work for funding under Title I and other pertinent ESSA sections.