Function 1: Ensure Implementation

Implementation of EBPs/EIIs is a non-linear process with many challenges and setbacks.  In education, Building, District, and Regional Implementation Teams will have the task of taking many districts and schools through the process so student outcomes can be improved purposefully.  With the help of an Implementation Team, teachers and staff, district administrators, and regional entities will have support to reach Full Implementation more quickly and successfully.  Even so, the process takes time and success is not guaranteed.  

While there are unique roles and functions for Implementation Teams, there also are common functions that apply to any team in any stage.  These functions include:

  1. Assessing and creating ongoing “buy-in” and readiness
  2. Installing and sustaining Implementation Drivers
  3. Monitoring implementation fidelity of the EBP/EII and related outcomes
  4. Action Planning: Aligning system functions and managing stage-based work
  5. Solving problems and building sustainability

Let’s have a little closer look at each of these stage-based activities.

1. Assessing and creating ongoing “buy-in” and readiness

Readiness for change seems to be an essential condition for successful change in a timely manner (Hall & Hord, 2011; Romney et al., in press; Telfer, 2011).  Common questions asked by stakeholders are:

  • What will be different this time?
  • Is this just another ‘fad’ that will pass?  Why should I invest my time or energy?
  • What was wrong with the way we have been doing things?  Does this mean I have been performing poorly?
  • How can I get more information? How can I participate?

Implementation Teams provide information about the reasons for change; the innovation; and, the implementation supports and commitment of leaders to make changes in the system that will facilitate the effective use of innovations in classrooms, buildings and districts.  Implementation Team work supports the “buy-in” process and creates readiness.


Creating Readiness in Education

There are increasing demands on educators. Waiting for readiness to occur simultaneously among teachers, schools, and districts may take a long time and leave the education system churning around a mediocre mean.  An alternative is to support Implementation Teams so they can help create readiness.  The figure below shows that an important function of Implementation Teams is to work with various individuals and groups to help them think about the need for change, get ready for change, and to actively participate in the change process.  80% of the work of an Implementation Team is creating readiness.

Figure 3.2 Implementation Teams and Readiness




2. Installing and sustaining Implementation Drivers

Each Team, at each level of the system, needs to be purposeful in deciding its role and responsibility in installing, sustaining and improving Implementation Drivers.  Implementation Drivers are the key components of capacity, and the functional infrastructure supports, that enable a program to be implemented as intended.  Supporting the use of innovations with fidelity increases the likelihood of creating positive student outcomes. Each Implementation Team has a role to play in ensuring Implementation Drivers are of high quality, funded, sustainable, and improved over time. And collectively the Implementation Teams need to ensure that all the Implementation Drivers are put to good use to support teachers and staff so that students benefit.

Learn More: Module 2: Implementation Drivers

3. Monitoring implementation fidelity of the EBP/EII and related outcomes

Fidelity assessments provide valuable information the Team can use for action planning and decision making. 

  • Fidelity and outcome data systems help determine whether the EBP/EII is being used as intended in interactions with students (e.g. formative), and if the use of the innovation is producing positive results for all students in a classroom, school, or district (e.g., summative)
  • Data about fidelity and outcomes give an Implementation Team the detailed information needed to develop action plans.  If the results are not as positive as expected, the team can determine if results are due to selecting an inappropriate or ineffective innovation (high fidelity/poor outcomes), or are due to a lack of fidelity in its implementation (low fidelity/poor outcomes).  If the results meet current expectations (high fidelity/good outcomes), action plans can be developed to improve effectiveness and efficiency.  Very different action plans will be developed depending on the results of this analysis.

4. Action Planning: Aligning systems and managing stage-based work

Implementation Teams do the purposeful work of action planning around the implementation process. Teams hold regular meetings to action plan to:

  • Guide and direct activities based on data collection regarding readiness for each stage of work
  • Ensure implementation supports are in place to ensure fidelity of the selected innovations
  • Ensure that system functions are aligned to support the new practice and they are diligent in referring issues of “misalignment” to relevant teams or individuals for resolution

5. Solving problems and building sustainability

Teams hold regular meetings to examine outcome and fidelity data, to action plan and to build and maintain the infrastructure to support the delivery of effective innovations.

They establish feedback loops between and among the various levels of teams to:

  • Share information about the facilitators to successful implementation
  • Identify and remove barriers to successful implementation
  • Routinely communicate directly with policy makers and administrators who can address roadblocks and develop systemic solutions to systems problems

Learn More: Handout 08: Communication Protocols Worksheet 

Research and Rationales: Readiness and Exploration

Saldana, Chamberlain, Wang, & Brown (2011) found about 50% of attempted implementation sites completed a three-step exploration process within one year.

Readiness for change contributes significantly to the use of effective innovations to achieve the promised outcomes.  Prochaska and colleagues (1984; 2001) estimated about 20% of individuals and organizations are ready for change at any given time.  The other 80% are in precontemplation, contemplation, or preparation for change.  Their estimate fits with the data that suggest about 15% success for ‘letting it happen’ and ‘helping it happen’ approaches to implementation.

Romney, Israel, and Zlatevski (in press) studied the impact of the Exploration Stage on later costs and success.  They followed agencies that completed the Exploration Stage activities and decided to use an evidence-based program, and compared them to agencies that were told to use the same program as a condition of their funding.  The agencies that completed the Exploration Stage were 12 times more likely to produce the desired results for children and families and did so at 1/7th of the cost per successful outcome.  While this was a small study of a big issue, the results may be indicative of the wasted resources and opportunities that await those who try to short-circuit the Stages of Implementation by mandating change in the absence of well-informed readiness.