Initial Implementation Stage

Outcomes of Initial Implementation:

  • The majority of practitioners are using the practice or program. 
  • Data and feedback are used regularly to inform decision-making and improve implementation of the practice or program. 
  • Practitioners are beginning to achieve fidelity and improve the quality of implementation efforts.  
  • Evidence exists that implementation of the practice or program is feasible. 

An implementation stages diagram with the third stage highlighted

The Initial implementation Stage begins when a group of practitioners begins using the new practice or program.  Examining the infrastructure planned during installation and formed during initial implementation will give implementation teams the opportunity to course-correct and pinpoint inequities that need correcting before implementation progresses. 

During this stage, key activities include intensive coaching to help practitioners through this awkward period of growth and change. As problems emerge, the implementation team develops and engages in strategies to promote continuous improvement and rapid-cycle problem-solving. Teams should use data to assess the quality of implementation, identify problems and solutions, and inform decision-making. It is critical to address barriers and develop systemic solutions quickly rather than allowing issues to re-emerge and reoccur. While addressing barriers in this stage, teams and practitioners should examine how equity (racial and other forms of discrimination) are impacting implementation and outcomes at all levels of the system. Centering equity will allow for the implementation to create equitable outcomes for all. The processes for doing so are discussed later in the Improvement Cycles section.  

Often, attempts to implement a new practice or program falter (or end) during installation or initial implementation. Implementation may struggle because everyone is learning, and challenges emerge as the status quo is changed. As the most fragile stage, initial implementation requires teachers to remain intentional and purposefully choose not to revert to previous practices.  

As with every stage of implementation, communication is vital to the success of a practice or program.  Providing feedback loops and communicating progress and improvement strategies to a diverse group of stakeholders will help the decision-making process expand the practice or program that much easier. 

SISEP Video Series: Voices from the Field - Initial Implementation - Video 2

Arminda Westra, State Transformation Assistant Administrator with the Michigan Department of Education provides key steps in initial implementation that made the biggest impact on their work.  Click to Tweet