NIRN 3.0 Update

November 14, 2023

It's Fall, y’all! Autumn is known as a time of harvest and abundance, as well as a time of change. Thus, it is a good time for reflection. It was this time two years ago that I wrote a blog introducing version 3.0 of the National Implementation Research Network, reflecting on the past, present, and future. This time, I am excited to share with you how we are doing. Let's look at our progress, organized by who we are as the National Implementation Research Network.


Given that implementation is what we do, we formed a leadership team of discipline leads in the areas of Early Childhood, K-12 Education, and Public Health as well as functional leads within areas of communication, instructional design, and research. The lead for Child Welfare is currently open. The leadership team has developed a strategic plan with overarching three-year goals as well as goals and key performance indicators within the areas of research, funding, communications, and instructional design. Portfolios of projects and new partnerships across the nation have been established. For example, a partnership was formed with Virginia Commonwealth University’s Center for Evidence-Based Partnerships to support a systemic change effort for children and youth’s behavioral health in Virginia. The project’s governance and design teams (comprising critical perspectives, including those with lived experiences) have been deeply engaged in their implementation work these past 18 months. We will continue to foster partnerships and support growth across a broad range of human services as well as look to the future of international partnerships.


Within the area of implementation practice, the team has been engaged in supporting current and new partners in their implementation efforts and making progress towards intended impact for their beneficiaries. NIRN secured an additional five years of funding for its national technical assistance center, State Implementation & Scaling-up of Evidence-based Practices (SISEP), funded by the federal Office of Special Education Programs. Utilizing the TA center’s funding and scope, Sophia Farmer and team have developed and launched a micro-credentialing program to support the development of the skills and competencies needed to build the capacity of practitioners and communities to effectively use practices/approaches and evidence to improve outcomes. Two cohorts are currently earning micro-credential badges and working through the levels of the program. Initial usability data is strong in terms of program’s relevance, utility, and quality. We continue to make improvements for feasibility as we build out the various levels’ asynchronous and synchronous learning components. As we work to support a diverse workforce of implementation support practitioners, we launched several Communities of Practice specifically for educators and leaders within Institutes of Higher Education and Historically Black Colleges and Universities this month.


I smile and dance in my seat as I proudly write that NIRN has a formalized research and evaluation agenda! Our research capacity has grown leaps and bounds over the past two years. In terms of staffing, our team has expanded to be inclusive of three research scientists and three research assistants. Mel Livet, Ximena Franco-Jenkins, and team have worked to co-design our implementation research scope, approach, principles, and methodologies and have identified and planned for addressing areas of growth. In addition, we have several recently funded implementation research projects in the areas of early childhood and K-12 education working hard to answer the questions, “How, and how much did implementation affect intended outcomes? In what contexts and for whom?”. Other projects are examining this as well through the pre-k implementation evaluation within Charlotte-Mecklenburg, the Effective Implementation Cohort for high quality mathematics instruction in middle school, and the post-pandemic learning acceleration grant with SWiFT Education Center for Resources Aligned and Integrated for Student Equity. We also continue to engage in research around key implementation tools and products. We are proud to announce a new partnership with Rivet Education for the validation study of their Professional Learning Partner Guide. We are primed to further establish ourselves as a national player in implementation science by contributing innovative practice-based research insights, demonstrating the value of implementation practice, improving the rigor of the evidence generated through practice-based research, and increasing its scholarship and policy outputs.


Our network continues to be one of our greatest strengths and we continue to work and build trusting relationships within the communities we serve and our partners. As noted earlier, we have grown in our relationships with partners and funders, as well as within the communities we are serving. We continue to dedicate resources to expanding our reach and community through various mechanisms including social media, a new Slack Community Forum, publications, webinars, and conferences. To continue to support our community and network, Rebekah Hornak, Wendy Morgan, and team launched a new and re-designed Active Implementation Hub following a series of listening and co-design sessions with our different users and funders. We continue to launch at least three new interactive learning resources annually. Check out the latest, such as Building Capacity, and be on lookout for Addressing Power Differentials before the new year. Finally, we remain committed to diversifying our team. We have made progress but have work still to do!

I would love to share more highlights of our progress as NIRN 3.0, but I am reminded by the team that this is meant to be a blog versus a paper. Brevity and use of plain language also continue to be areas of growth. ;)

In summary, progress has been made on our plan of action by the dedicated, creative, and innovative team that I am fortunate to call my colleagues. We remain committed as a team to maintaining our focus on producing equitable outcomes for the children, families, and communities we serve; strengthening our implementation practices; conducting and contributing to rigorous science; and growing our network for innovation.

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