Exploration Stage

Outcomes of Exploration:

  • Formation of a representative implementation team to guide the work 
  • Demonstrated need for practice or program
  • Selection of a practice or program that matches demonstrated needs is acceptable to leaders and staff and is feasible (teachable, learnable, doable, and assessable in practice) to implement 

An implementation stages diagram with the first stage highlighted

The goal of the Exploration Stage is to collaboratively determine which practice or program is the best fit by examining the degree to which a particular practice or program meets the school, district, or state’s needs from the perspective of students, staff, families, and community partners.  Additionally, to ensure that practices or programs anticipated to meet the needs of students and families are actually implemented as intended, districts and schools must make certain that they are feasible and doable. Students cannot benefit from best practices that they do not receive.

Requirements for implementation must be carefully assessed, and potential barriers to implementation examined. During exploration, key activities include involving a diverse group of stakeholders, forming an implementation team, cultivating implementation leaders and champions of the work, and identifying potential programs. It is also important to ensure that clear program components are identified and well operationalized. Even with existing evidence-based practices and programs, further, development to define and operationalize the program or practice may be needed before making decisions to move forward with implementation. Once the practice or program is defined, it is vital to explore how it pushes and pulls on existing ways of work (e.g., curricula, practices, programs). To ensure a complete understanding of potential changes and provide clarity, initial communication processes and messages should also be drafted in a communication plan.