Active Implementation Frameworks and Key Constructs

Each Implementation Capacity Assessment is based on the Active Implementation Frameworks. The research basis of the Implementation Capacity Assessments is derived from implementation science research literature (Fixsen, Naoom, Blase, Friedman, & Wallace, 2005).  The Active Implementation frameworks “help define what needs to be done (effective innovations); how to establish what needs to be done, who will do the work and when (effective implementation); and establish hospitable environments for the work (enabling contexts) to accomplish the positive outcomes” (Blase, Fixsen, Naoom, & Wallace, 2005). The Active Implementation Frameworks (AIFs) are universal and apply to any attempt to use any innovation.  For more information and resources on the Active Implementation Frameworks, visit the Active Implementation Hub.

Active Implementation Frameworks

Usable Innovations

To be usable, an innovation must be well operationalized so that it is teachable, learnable, doable, and readily assessable in practice, and assessments in practice (fidelity) must be linked to improved outcomes

Implementation Stages

Stages of implementation require thinking through the right activities for each stage to increase the likelihood of success of use of the AIFs and the effective innovation. Stages are exploration, installation, initial implementation, and full implementation

Implementation Drivers

Drivers are key components of the infrastructure and capacity that influence the successful use of an innovation. There are three driver domains: Competency (selection, training, coaching, fidelity), Organization (decision support data systems, facilitative administration, systems intervention), and Leadership (adaptive, technical)

Improvement Cycles

Iterative processes by which improvements are made and problems solved are based on the Plan-Do-Study–Act Cycle (3 types of cycles: Rapid Cycle problem solving, Usability Testing, and Practice-Policy Communication cycles). 

Implementation Teams

Teams are accountable for planning, determining usable innovations, exercising implementation expertise, supporting system change, and seeing the change process through to full implementation.


Implementation Capacity Assessments provide a closer look at individual components of the Active Implementation Framework at the respective levels of the cascade. The table below provides information about the availability of these data across Implementation Capacity Assessments with a snapshot of items aligning with framework components across all levels of the cascade.

Alignment of Implementation Capacity Assessments within Active Implementation Framework Components with Sample Items

AIF Driver Components





Competency Drivers

Sample Items




“State Transformation Specialist (STS) role is identified.”


“The Regional Education Agency (REA) uses a process for selecting staff (internal and/or eternal) who support implementation capacity efforts”


“District uses a process for selecting staff (internal and/or eternal) who will implement and support the EI”


“There is someone accountable for the recruitment and selection of staff who will carry out the program or practice”





“Each STS assumes major responsibility for supporting the development of implementation capacity at State, regional, district, and school levels”


“Regional staff who support


have a plan to continuously strengthen skills”


“Building Implementation Teams (BITs) are developed and functioning to support implementation of EI”


“Agency staff provides or secures skill-based training for staff





“SMT and STSs engage in Exploration Stage activities with regional education agencies (REAs) to develop the REAs implementation capacity”


“RIT uses a coaching service delivery plan to support district implementation teams”


“District has a plan to continuously    strengthen staff skills”


“Coaching is provided to improve the competency of staff who carry out the program or practice”





“SEA conducts regular assessments of RIT functioning


“RIT supports districts in the use of fidelity measures”


“DIT supports the use of a fidelity measure for use of the EI” 


“There is someone accountable for the fidelity assessments of staff who will carry out the program or practice”

Organization Drivers


Systems Intervention


“SMT engages in action planning using data and information”



“RIT uses a process to report policy relevant information to the State Education Agency (SEA)”


“District uses a process to report policy relevant information to outside entities”


“Leaders and managers engage with the larger service delivery and funding systems to create improved regulatory and funding environments”


Decision Support Data Systems


“SMT regularly reviews information and data about implementation and capacity development”


“RIT has access to relevant data”


“DIT has a process for using data for decision making



“Agency staff have access to relevant data for making decisions for program improvement”



Facilitative Administration


“SMT provides executive leadership for implementation capacity development”


“RIT uses a process for addressing internal barriers”


“District uses a process for addressing internal barriers”


“Leaders and managers actively facilitate the use of implementation supports for programs and practices”


Adaptive and Technical Leadership


“SEA assures RIT members have sufficient time dedicated to work of implementation capacity development”


“RIT uses a process for addressing

internal barriers”


“District uses a process for addressing internal barriers”


“Agency leaders focus attention on implementation challenges”

For detailed information about the administration of the capacity assessments, go to:

The Drivers Best Practices Assessment (DBPA) has items specific to “best practices” extracted from: 1) the literature, 2) interactions with purveyors who are successfully implementing evidence-based programs on a national scale, 3) in-depth interviews with 64 evidence-based program developers, 4) the results of meta-analyses of the literature on leadership, and 5) analyses of leadership in education.  The items pertain to the domains of developing competency, assuring organization supports, and leadership.

The OTISS is based on the work of Hattie (2009) who conducted a meta-analysis of over 800 meta-analyses capturing over 50,000 studies related to student achievement.  It is the most comprehensive report produced to date of “what works” in education.  Items on OTISS are scored based on direct observation of teacher instruction during a 10-minute classroom walk through by a trained observer.  OTISS is designed to observe teacher instruction as a way to evaluate the implementation supports provided to teachers to enable them to excel.  The seven items are:

  • Item 1: Provides clear instruction
  • Item 2: Demonstrates instructional tasks
  • Item 3: Engages students in meaningful interactions with content
  • Item 4: Provides prompt and accurate feedback
  • Item 5: Adjusts to students’ responses to instruction
  • Item 6: Provides multiple opportunities for students to practice
  • Item 7: Adjusts to students’ engagement with instruction

Please contact NIRN ( for more information about any of the implementation capacity assessments.

Hattie, J. A. C. (2009). Visible learning: A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement.  London: Routledge.

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