Framework 1: Usable Innovations

To be usable, it’s necessary to have sufficient detail about an innovation. With detail, you can train educators to implement it with fidelity, replicate it across multiple settings and measure the use of the innovation. So, an innovation needs to be teachable, learnable, doable, and be readily assessed in practice.
 

Before implementing an innovation (i.e., an evidence-based program), it’s vital to have a clear understanding of the program and its' suitability for your State, district or school. It’s necessary to have sufficient detail about the innovation that you can train staff and administrators to implement it with fidelity; that the innovation can be replicated across all of your classrooms, schools, and districts; and that there is an assessment that allows you to measure the use of the innovation. In other words, the innovation needs to be teachable, learnable, doable, and be readily assessed in practice. The following criteria need to be in place to ensure that your innovation is usable:

  • Clear description of the program
  • Clear essential functions that define the program
  • Operational definitions of essential functions
  • Practical performance assessment

Evaluation and Planning Tools: The Hexagon Tool

This tool can help you and your team appropriately select EBPs/EIIs by reviewing six broad factors in relation to the program or practice under consideration.

Clear Description of the Program

Not every program or practice is a good fit with the needs, values and philosophy of your State or district.  Having a good description of a program and its foundations is necessary so that administrators and staff can make informed choices about what to use. The Hexagon Tool used during the Exploration Stage provides some guidance for assessing the fit of an innovation with the goals and needs of an organization.

Additionally, make sure that you can identify these components:

  • Clear Philosophy, Values and Principles
    The philosophy, values and principles that underlie the program provide the guidance for all educational and program decisions and evaluations, and are used to promote consistency, integrity and sustainable effort across classrooms, schools and districts.
  • Clear inclusion and exclusion criteria that define the population for which the program is intended.
    The criteria define which students are most likely to benefit when the program is used as intended.


Clear Essential Functions

The speed and effectiveness of implementation may depend upon knowing exactly what has to be in place to achieve the desired results for students. Not knowing the core components of the innovation wastes time and resources on attempting to implement a variety of nonfunctional elements. Knowing the core innovation components may allow for more efficient and cost effective implementation, and lead to confident decisions about what can be adapted to suit your school or district.  Clear descriptions also allow for evaluations of the functions of those procedures. Clear essential functions that define the program, or core components, include a clear description of the features that must be present to say that a program exists in a given location.

Operational Definitions

Knowing the essential functions is a good start. The next step is to express each core component in terms that can be taught, learned, done in practice, and assessed in practice.  Engagement, for example, is fundamental to interactive innovations. What does this mean for teachers? What should they say and do to ensure engagement of students?

Practice profiles describe the core components that allow a program to be teachable, learnable and doable in practice, and promote consistency across educators at the classroom, building and district levels.

Practical Performance Assessment

How well are educators saying and doing those things that are in keeping with the essential functions and with the intentions behind the innovation? Are the intended outcomes being realized? An effective performance (or fidelity) assessment provides evidence that the program is being used as intended and is resulting in the desired outcomes.

Look for these features in your performance assessment:

  • The performance assessment relates to the program philosophy, values, principles and essential functions specified in the Practice Profiles
  • The performance assessment is practical and can be done repeatedly in the context of typical educational systems
  • There is evidence that the program is effective when used as intended
  • The performance assessment is highly correlated with intended outcomes for students

Activity 1.1
Getting started with Usable Innovations

To be usable, it’s necessary to have sufficient detail about an innovation. With detail, you can train educators to implement it with fidelity, replicate it across multiple settings and measure the use of the innovation. With your team, consider a current or upcoming initiative and work through the tasks provided.


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