What We Are Learning
It is possible to develop implementation capacity in a State education system. This was an unanswered question in 2008. In 2011, sufficient progress has been made to say with some certainty that it can be done.
It is practical to assess current implementation efforts in districts and to build on those strengths. In 2008, there were no practical assessments of implementation capacity or implementation progress. This put implementation into a precarious position. Given the time it takes to build the foundations for implementation in a State, there were no reliable markers of baseline conditions or ways to monitor implementation capacity progress. Now, there is a suite of implementation assessments and action planning supports that can be used in any State. This allows State Management Teams and others to mark progress and operationalize their roles in implementation capacity development.
There is a considerable amount of implementation expertise available in education, already in use in many districts. There exists a foundation upon which an infrastructure for implementation can be built. Current resources seem to be adequate to create the implementation teaming structures described in this website. Once these resources are organized, there is every reason to believe that current resources can and will be used more effectively and efficiently.
The SMT is critical to success. Monthly meetings of the SMT and SISEP staff provide a forum for exchanges of information, opportunities to develop good working relationships, and a context for identifying and resolving thorny issues that arise in the process of changing education systems in districts and the State. In the future, more attention will be given to the SMT during the Exploration Stage.
District entry is the place to begin. In retrospect, too much time was spent with the Regional Implementation Team members to increase their knowledge of implementation science and best practices. Too little time was spent in districts doing the work of implementation. In the future, we expect to begin district entry in the Transformation Zone within the first four or five months to provide more signs of progress and to provide more opportunities for on-the-job coaching by SISEP staff.
Collect data immediately. The ImpleMap is a good way to assess current implementation capacity in a district and to educate district staff about implementation drivers. The ImpleMap can be done right away. The Installation Stage self-assessment and action planning guide also can be done within the first few months with at least a few districts. These assessment instruments help to make implementation visible and help to operationalize what is present and missing in current efforts within district and regional organizations. These instruments were not available in 2008. In the future, they will be used immediately as part of the capacity building process.