Topic 1: Implementation Stages Overview

Implementation is not an event.  It is a mission-oriented process involving multiple decisions, actions, and corrections designed to make full and effective use of effective innovations in education settings.  Change at the site, local, community or state level does not occur all at once.  Research suggests it can take from two to four years to fully and successfully operationalize an evidence-based program, practice, or effective innovation (Bierman et al., 2002; Fixsen, Blase, Timbers, & Wolf, 2001; Panzano & Roth, 2006; Prochaska & DiClemente, 1982; Saldana et al., 2011). The timer starts when an organization begins to consider change and ends when the change is fully in place and producing intended outcomes in all programs or sites in the community or state.  The process includes four Stages that can lead to the long-term survival (sustainability) and continued effectiveness of any innovation in the context of a changing world. 

Stages are not linear and each one doe s not have a crisp beginning or end.  For example, there are times when an organization will move among stages due to changes in staff, funding, leadership, or unsuccessful attempts at employing the innovation with high fidelity.  There also may be instances in which an organization is in more than one stage at the same time. For example, a program may begin delivering new services due to timeframe limitations and mandates by a funder, while they are still securing resources and putting infrastructure elements in place.

There are key components and processes to pay attention to during each of the stages.  These can guide a systematic and intentional approach for managing system change and building sustainability for the new EBP/EII. 

Lastly, full implementation is achieved when the new practice or approach has stabilized, and we are seeing the consistent use the new practice is resulting in improved child outcomes.  We also see that strategies to gather feedback for improvement by using improvement cycles are highly functioning and providing routine information on how the new practice is going and how the supports are functioning. 

Often times, it takes 2-4 years to get to full implementation, in the best case scenario.

First, we will identify the four Stages and through the following Topic sections in this Module we will examine each of them more closely.