Skip to content
Home » Content Marketing » What is the difference between research-based and evidence-based?

What is the difference between research-based and evidence-based?

This is a question that comes up all of the time. What does it mean if a product says it’s research-based? And what is different about a product that is evidence-based? When the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) replaced No Child Left Behind, President Obama signed into law that all products need to have a research base AND an evidence base to be used in schools.

The research base answers two questions: What should be taught and how should it be taught?

The evidence base answers two different questions: How does the product work and how did the product work?

While these questions are related, the first set comes before the other. The key differentiation is that the research base studies come from universities and may take place in a lab, while evidence base studies are from program evaluators and use the product with students in schools.

Research-based: no students needed! Evidence-based: lots of students expected.

Research-based: How the product should work. Evidence-based: How the product actually works.

Check out and share these two booklets to better understand what companies mean when they use these terms.

Want to know more about the ESSA Evidence Tiers? Check out this explainer booklet.

Thank you to Grace Baker-Witcomb for the graphic design support.