Overview

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This module explores practical applications of concepts and tools developed in the field of Implementation Science. It addresses questions such as:

  • What is Implementation Science? What are its conceptual foundations?
  • Why should school districts take Implementation Science seriously?
  • Where did Implementation Science come from and how does it fit in with other change technologies?
  • How are adaptive challenges different from technical challenges? What are the implications of these differences?
  • What are the five Active Implementation Frameworks and how can they be used by school districts?
  • In what sense are OIP/OLAC leadership teams already functioning as implementation teams? How can that function be strengthened?

The content in this module aligns closely to ideas presented in two other OLAC modules: Ohio Improvement Process and Teams Using Data Wisely.

The module aligns with Ohio's Leadership Development Framework in the following areas:

  • Area 1 Data and the Decision-Making Process
  • Area 2 Focused Goal Setting Process
  • Area 5: Resource Management Process

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Discussion Questions

  1. As the module mentions, implementation of an innovation (e.g., an evidence-based instructional practice) can be slow and uneven. Does this pattern match up with what you have experienced when you have learned something new at home or on the job? In what ways? What strategies did you use in those learning situations to help you persevere? How might those strategies be used in a school or district that is onboarding an innovation?

  2. Long-held attitudes and beliefs sometimes become adaptive challenges that interfere with implementation efforts. For instance, educators sometimes attribute low student achievement to characteristics of the students or their families. As an educational leader, what steps would you take to remove this type of attitudinal barrier in preparation for implementing a new evidence-based practice for improving reading achievement?

  3. Local adoption of evidence-based practices (EBPs) often requires some minor modification (“tweaking”) of those practices. How can TBTs or BLTs figure out what to tweak and how to tweak the EBP? How can they determine whether minor modifications are improving or detracting from the effectiveness of the EBP?

Activities

Introductory Activities

  1. Exploration of a possible innovation (e.g., an EBP) is the first stage in the implementation process. What activities are needed in order to ensure that your TBT’s or BLT’s exploration is sufficiently deep and wide to inform productive decision-making? Create a checklist, flow chart, or practice profile specifying the various activities that are helpful at the exploration stage? Perhaps using asterisks or color coding, distinguish between activities that are absolutely essential and those that are useful, but not essential. Try using the checklist, flow chart, or practice profile the next time your TBT or BLT is considering the use of a new EBP.

  2. In his 2006 article, Leading to Change/Pull the Weeds Before You Plant the Flowers, Doug Reeves commented, “Educators are drowning under the weight of initiative fatigue—attempting to use the same amount of time, money, and emotional energy to accomplish more and more objectives.” In fact, initiative fatigue continues to be a major adaptive challenge in many school districts. What steps has your district already taken to eliminate initiative fatigue? Are those steps working? If not, what other steps should it take?
  3. Precise refinement of EBPs to address context-specific circumstances involves highly systematic and iterative data collection and analysis routines. The body of research on such efforts is called Improvement Science. Many of the approaches recommended by Implementation Science are also recommended by Improvement Science. To learn more about how Improvement Science actually works, watch the following video about improvement work in Baltimore, MD. It’s called Improvement Science in Baltimore. Discuss the data routines that were used in the Baltimore schools. Are they similar or different from the data routines in your district? What might your district learn about data routines from the work in the Baltimore City Schools.

Advanced Activities

  1. Although the work of BLTs includes implementation, this part of the work has not always been elaborated among some BLTs. Imagine that you are a central office administrator who wants to provide support to BLTs in your district so that they can function as implementation teams. What steps would you need to take in order to prepare them for this work? What tools would you need to develop? What professional learning experiences would you need to provide? Depending on how close to reality this imagined situation actually is, start to undertake this work by (1) making a plan, (2) developing necessary tools, and (3) arranging for relevant professional learning experiences. Once these supports are in place, begin actively to engage the district’s (or some of the district’s) BLTs in this work.


You can earn credit and contact hours for modules, webinars, and podcasts completed on the OLAC site.

For more information, visit the Credit Corner. If you’re seeking credit for the Gifted Education Professional Development Course or the Culturally Responsive Practices Program courses, you can find that information on the course overview pages.