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Evidence-Based Practices


This is a sub-set of the Layered Continuum of Supports Component (per CDE, 2021); therefore, this page is a subordinate of the TSD LCS component page. Various EBPs will apply to different Layers of Support.

Evidence-Based Practices:

Are approaches to instruction, intervention, and assessment that have been proven effective through research indicating improved outcomes for students. (CDE, 2016)

This asks that schools and districts are purposeful and responsible when selecting practices for use within their systems. Three "categories" of practices are: instruction, intervention, and assessment. Each category contributes to student outcomes. It is imperative that all practices are equitable, inclusive, and developmentally-appropriate.

Similar to how we think of everything we do within the MTSS framework as prevention-based, effective Evidence-Based Practices (EBPs) can prevent obstacles to learning and growth.

  • That is why it is an expectation that each individual can access universal EBPs and has opportunities to benefit from the EBPs that have been chosen and "adopted" for use within the system.
  • Additionally, each practice within the system (whether intended to support students or adults) should be of high-quality and should fit the context (i.e., setting and situation) in which that practice will be used AND for the duration that it is needed (whether short- or long- term).
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Effective Implementation

Best first instruction should be available and offered to each student, and effective interventions should be available for students when needs surface.

  • That is what reinforces that we prioritize preventation-based strategies, AND...
  • We have an "agile and responsive" system that is fluid, flexible, and ready to address individual and system-wide challenges.

Practices that are adopted for use within the system should have research to support their use AND have clear descriptions of the practices' core features. In addition to the "what" being explicitly-known, it is necessary to know why and for whom the practice is beneficial.

So...Design matters, of course, but implementation matters, as well. It is critical to understand how the practice should be implemented.

  • Instructional and intervention practices often include differentiation and adaptations that are made within learning environments and learning experiences.
  • Acceptable variations for the practice MUST (always) still honor the core features of the practice and should secure the desired outcome.
    • What that means is that if educational staff make adjustments within the strategies of the practice, the impact should still be guaranteed because the quality and basic principles are still present...the practice should not be changed so much that it is not recognizable.

Connections: To support the implementation of evidence-based practices in TSD, common understanding and commitment have become a priority. A primary example of that is the creation and implementation of the  Thompson Educational Expectations (TEE).

The four "compass points" of the "TEE Compass" visualization are:

  • Conditions for Learning
  • Learning Design
  • Learning Delivery
  • Evaluations of Learning

These apply:

  • Across all contents, for the entire learning trajectory, from early childhood through graduation.
  • These aligned approaches will also be considered through all of our adult learning experiences.

These Expectations are truly meant to benefit each member of the TSD learning community!



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Because the area of assessment is a category of evidence-based practices, it, too, should be a focus. For example, universal screening and progress monitoring should be well-defined and provided strategically. In 2014, the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) defined these two terms (as follows).

"Universal screening is a type of assessment that is characterized by the administration (usually three times a year) of quick, low-cost, repeatable data collection of academic and behavioral skills of all students. It shows how functional the curriculum and instruction are in the school and detects whether or not students are making acceptable progress in the curriculum. Progress monitoring is a systematic approach to gathering academic and behavioral data using a variety of data collection methods. Student performance is examined frequently, over time, to evaluate response to instruction and intervention."

These definitions provide basic ideas about screening and progress monitoring. Of course, assessments occur beyond screening and progress monitoring, and other assessment practices (e.g., formative or diagnostic assessments, observations, interviews, tracking of interactions/attendance, or work products and artifacts) should also be thoughtfully and strategically administered and/or collected. All measures should be intentionally-chosen to provide valuable information for decision-making. 


This is a section of caution! Although an evidence-based practice may be easily-available, that does not mean that there is readiness for the system OR for stakeholders to implement the practice. OR stakeholders may not even be ready to be the recipients of the practice. That means it is extremely important to: (a) analyze the practice, (b) the providers of the practice, and (c) the (intended) recipients of the practice. 

When you are intentional about Practice Selection, you will reduce the likelihood of implementing something ineffective. We do not have the "time to waste" to implement an ineffective practice, and the phrase "do no harm" reminds us that if we are not using our time well by "just trying something" that might not work, we are possibly doing harm. Therefore, educational teams and stakeholders are encouraged to conduct Practice Selection across all levels and for all prioritized areas prior to adopting and implementing practices.

Resource Maps

One concept that is promoted from various states and national guidance literature is: Resource Mapping. Various approaches have been taken, and we often include a reference to an "inventory" (i.e., of Teams, Imperatives/Priorities, etc.), but we also request that people consider what they currently have availalbe, what they may need, and what we want to secure for use in our system. We are choosing to call this Resource Mapping. You can find many references to this idea by conducting a search in your browser, but we are more-aligned to ideas shared from Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) TA Centers and related agencies or support materials. Although the examples are often with behavioral or mental health experts, the PRACTICE of resource mapping can be done for any domain or content area, and it can be "large" scale (i.e., system-wide) or more isolated to individual service delivery.

If you would like to read more about Resource Mapping, you may review this Harvard Graduate School of Education: "Making Caring Common Project" webpage. Because the updated CDE Components for MTSS include Evidence-Based Practices (EBPs) WITHIN the Layered Continuum of Supports, mapping resources "across the tiers" continues to be ever-more-relevant and necessary so that we ensure we have an agile and responsive system that values prevention, accelerating growth, and supporting well-being. There are simple and more complex ways to complete Resource Maps. We encourage the idea of the INFORMANTS (or those providing the ideas) to be "close" to the direct service (such as school-based staff). Those who COMPILE the information (into a visible and functional layout) and provide oversight, review, and final "endorsement" for the organization may then be those who are leaders of programming, etc. (i.e., district staff).


Tool that can be used as Considerations Template for Selection (view-only doc, please make a copy for yourself if you would like to use)

National resource from IES: Evidence-Based Teaching Practices - This infographic gives a good checklist of strategies any teacher could apply to instruction, along with a visual and written metaphor to an actual "scaffold" image that demonstrates what is implied for each area of SCAFFOLDING for students.

National resource page from IRIS: This provides a basic overview of the term Evidence-Based Practices and related terminology.

External sources - Reference Materials: These are other options that are more detailed and would require Technical Assistance (TA) or coaching to clarify for use in reflecting on or planning for selection of EBPs.


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TSD MTSS website: original © Summer 2019, Website Refresh resulting in page reduction/removal: Summer 2023