McREL’s Educational Technology Evaluations

Looking for evidence your product works?

Are you prepared to answer the most important question potential users ask about your K–12 educational technology solution: Does it work?

Schools and districts are looking for ed-tech products and programs that personalize learning, better engage students, and improve outcomes—and they’re looking for evidence that these products make a difference for students before they make a purchasing decision.

McREL bridges the gaps between educators, research, and ed-tech products. Our mission is to help educators flourish by researching what works and what matters most in improving teaching, learning, and leading.

Ed-Tech Evaluations and ESSA Evidence Tiers Explained

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As part of our mission, we can analyze your ed-tech product to see how well it really performs, giving you valuable answers to questions educators will ask:

Does your ed-tech product work in the classroom the way you expect? Does it improve K–12 teaching and learning outcomes? Which students benefit the most from this technology?

Does your product have the evidence base needed to meet federal ESSA requirements?

Is your ed-tech product easy for teachers and students to use? Is the training and support you give your clients/users sufficient to ensure quality use?

How well does your ed-tech product match up with local and national academic standards?

Customized, collaborative, high-quality research

What makes McREL different from other research organizations? Our focus on your product, your needs, and your vision. We have the same level of expertise as the largest research companies in the world, but we’re a smaller shop that focuses solely on education and delivers boutique-style service, collaboration, and customization. We’ll listen to your specific needs and goals, and deliver customized studies that meet your specified timeline, budget, and vision. It’s a level of care and service you’ll be hard-pressed to find anywhere else.

Solid, unbiased results you and educators can trust

For decades, educators have trusted and relied on McREL for unparalleled, research-based guidance on best practices for great instruction and school leadership. When we work with you, we’ll live up to our reputation, meaning we’ll conduct an unbiased evaluation of your ed-tech product’s efficacy or standards alignment, and give you sound data and rigorous analysis that you can use to demonstrate effectiveness or make improvements.

What evidence do you need?

Current U.S. federal education law, known as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), requires that K–12 schools and districts across the U.S. use evidence-based activities, strategies, and interventions. Schools are looking for educational technology solutions that meet these rigorous standards, and we can design a study that satisfies one of the four tiers of acceptable evidence.

ESSA Tiers for Evidence-based Interventions

Can you show your prospective clients that your ed-tech product has demonstrated outcomes that meet one of ESSA’s four tiers of evidence? When considering adopting new technology that supports an improvement initiative, schools and district leaders use the following guidelines to determine which ESSA tier of evidence the proposed intervention meets. Learn more about how McREL can support your efforts to gather evidence on your product’s efficacy.

ESSA Tier 1 Strong Evidence

An intervention involving at least one well-implemented experimental study (for example, a randomized control trial).

ESSA Tier 1 Strong Evidence


We can deliver a well-designed and well-implemented research study of your ed-tech product that will meet the Strong Evidence standards and national Evidence Standards from the What Works Clearinghouse without reservations.

ESSA Tier 2 Moderate Evidence

An intervention involving at least one well-designed and well-implemented quasi-experimental study.

ESSA Tier 2 Moderate Evidence


We can design and deliver a quasi-experimental study of your ed-tech product that will meet the Moderate Evidence standards and the national Evidence Standards from the What Works Clearinghouse with reservations.

ESSA Tier 3 Promising Evidence

An intervention involving at least one well-designed and well-implemented correlational study with statistical controls for selection bias.

ESSA Tier 3 Promising Evidence


We can design and deliver a solid correlational study of your ed-tech product that meets the standards for Promising Evidence.

ESSA Tier 4 Demonstrates a Rationale

An intervention supported by high-quality research, a logic model, or theory of action conveying how the intervention is likely to improve relevant outcomes and ongoing efforts to examine the effects of the intervention.

ESSA Tier 4 Demonstrates a Rationale


We can research, design, and prepare a logic model that suggests how your product/service is likely to improve student outcomes.

If your product doesn’t have a sufficient evidence base right now, contact McREL today.
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McREL helped us narrow and focus our questions so we would get to what we most needed to know.
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