Fixsen, Blase, Metz, Van Dyke (2013)

Statewide Implementation of Evidence-based Practices

This article presents a reality, which all researchers, practitioners, and policy-makes must confront: evidence-based practices are only as successful (from an outcome perspective) and their implementation and acceptance into the micro-culture of a place of learning and the macro-culture of an educational system. The researchers define 3 anecdotal categories of implementation of educational evidence-based practice: letting it happen, helping it happen, and making it happen. An example of letting it happen is publishing enough studies with enough positive results to define an evidence-based practice, and then hoping it catches on in an educational environment somewhere. An example of helping it happen is creating/hosting PD for educators and/or administrators without follow-up or thought to the complex contexts of educating students with disabilities. The last category, making it happen, involves implementation science and successful scaling up.

The researchers present an implementation framework that relies on an implementation team of practitioners, innovations, and students. Management teams at the State level are encouraged to prevent establishment of “islands of excellence.” Difficulties in implementation are discussed—facilitating change from inside a system, new practices being drowned out by established practices, and wicked problems. It was also noted that the term “program” has not been defined, so it is difficult to define the delimiters in implementation efforts.

In order to scale up evidence-based interventions, the authors recommend first scaling up implementation capacity. A general investment in implementation capacity was emphasized for improved outcomes in evidence-based educational research.

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