Topic 1: Definitions

Implementation Teams are the “Who” of Active Implementation.  An Implementation Team is an organized and active group that supports the implementation, sustainability, and scale-up of usable innovations by integrating the use of implementation stages, drivers and improvement cycles.  Forming an Implementation Team does not require new staff to engage in the work of implementation. Many times existing positions or teams can be repurposed to achieve the functions required of Implementation Teams. Important selection criteria from Implementation Team members are as follows:

It is important to note, Implementation Teams are NOT advisory groups or committees or representatives.  They are not groups who provide periodic input (e.g., occasional meetings for decision-making or discussion).  Implementation Teams are actively involved on a daily basis with implementation efforts devoted to assuring the full and effective uses of effective innovations.

The purpose of improving the competency and confidence of staff members is so they can better use effective innovations in their classrooms – where students participate in active learning.  So, let’s begin with an overview of teaming structures in a state educational system that can support full and effective use of usable innovations.

Linked Implementation Teams

One Implementation Team is not enough to assure excellent outcomes for all students in a state.  To use effective innovations on a useful scale requires a thoughtful arrangement of Implementation Teams.  While this may seem complicated, keep in mind that Implementation Teams make use of the same Active Implementation Frameworks at each level.  Each team described below is charged with doing its part to a) support the work of teams at the level “below” them and b) engage in activities that ensure that the overall implementation infrastructure is developed to:

  • Support staff in delivering innovations as intended and improving outcomes for students
  • Sustain the innovation over time and across staff
  • Scale-up the innovation over time and across units
  • Ensure continuous improvement of fidelity and student outcomes

An infrastructure of linked Implementation Teams contributes to creating coherent and aligned system functions. By working together with a singular focus on the quality of instruction and classroom management, the teams can help create a shared culture of innovation with good outcomes.

As shown in the figure below, an infrastructure comprised of linked teams can help reduce isolated silos that typify large systems.  By working simultaneously with multiple levels of an education system, Implementation Teams can help encourage greater integration, coherence, and focus to the system as whole.  By aligning activities and functions with desired outcomes for students, Implementation Teams and leaders in education can build a lasting capacity for responsible change.

Figure 3.1: Simultaneous, Multi-Level
Team Alignment in an Educational System


Engaged leadership is critical at each level of an implementation infrastructure.  Establishing Implementation Teams requires changes in current department of education functions, roles, and structures.  This will not happen without leadership that is engaged in creating opportunities for responsible change and managing change processes once they are underway. 

In education, the State Implementation Team and Regional Implementation Teams are closely aligned with the Chief State School Officer and his or her State Management Team.  District Implementation Teams operate as part of district superintendent offices.  Building Implementation Teams report directly to school principals.

Leadership support for Implementation Teams needs to be embedded and part of standard education services in states, districts, and schools.  For example, current infrastructures for finance and information technology are embedded and enduring.  An implementation infrastructure needs to become appreciated and supported in a similar way, even as leaders come and go.

The table below helps emphasize the common functions of leadership and Implementation Teams within a state education system.  Implementation Teams always report to and are a part of a leadership team, and employ a common set of active implementation frameworks to align system resources and support teacher and staff uses of effective innovations to produce excellent student outcomes.

Table 3.1. Functions of leadership and Implementation Teams within a state education system

LOCATION State District School
TARGET OUTCOME Create and support DIT Create and support BIT Support Teachers/Fidelity


Legend: State Management Team (SMT), District Management Team (DMT), Building Management Team (BMT), Regional Implementation Team (RIT), District Implementation Team (DIT), Building Implementation Team (BIT)

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Building, District and Regional Implementation Teams in an Educational System

Each team is a part of the implementation infrastructure to support staff competence, organization supports and facilitate leadership at and below their respective level. Likewise, they have dedicated personnel FTE to engage in best practice implementation work.

Building Implementation Teams

The focus of the Building Implementation Team is helping teachers and staff in the school use effective innovations with fidelity to achieve intended outcomes.  Building Implementation Teams are essential to support teachers and staff as they attempt to use effective innovations in their daily interactions with students.  Students will benefit (or not) depending on the quality of those interactions.  Innovative practices are, by definition, new and different from typical education practices.  Teachers and staff should not be expected to somehow “just do it.”  They deserve the support of a Building Implementation Team (BIT). 

District Implementation Teams

Building Implementation Teams do not just appear in sufficient numbers to make a difference in an entire state education system.  These school-based Building Implementation Teams are developed and supported by District Implementation Teams (DIT).  Effective use of innovations requires changes in district supports for schools.  The focus of a District Implementation Team is to develop an effective Building Implementation Team (BIT) in each building in the district.  Using the Active Implementation Frameworks as a guide, District Implementation Teams (DIT) help form building-based teams, support the development of team competencies, help principals and staff adjust school administrative practices to align with teachers’ use of effective innovations, and help assure leadership engagement with and support for effective innovations and Implementation Team functions.

Regional Implementation Teams

Like teachers and schools, districts also need support for the development of Implementation Teams.  The purpose of a Regional Implementation Team (RIT) is to develop an effective District Implementation Team in each district in its region.  In turn, Regional Implementation Teams are formed, developed, and supported by a State-based Implementation Team.