Creating Meaningful Change for Social Impact in Education

Caryn Ward

Aim: Creating meaningful change by defining and measuring the necessary changes at each level of the system to ensure evidence based practices (EBPs) are used as intended to achieve outcomes in education organizations is complex and challenging. This presentation aims to demonstrate the social impact realized by utilizing a Cascading Logic Model, an applied capacity building approach (Blase, 2010; Metz, 2011).

Methods: The cascade was used to clarify what individuals, need to change what practices, at each level of a US state education system (state, region, district, school, classroom). The strategies employed at each level of the system are the outcomes at the next level of the system. Assessments were developed and used at each level to measure implementation capacity and fidelity and to drive action planning utilizing improvement cycles in five States.

Results: While student outcomes cannot be known with any certainty for several years, the more immediate outcomes of implementation capacity development strategies and processes are evident. At the State and regional levels, growth in implementation capacity was seen in three of five states. At the district level, gains in one year show significant progress and point to areas that require additional attention. School level data collection is underway.

Preliminary Conclusions/Discussion: Key indicators of organizational capacity and support for successful implementation were identified to quantify strengths and needs, and guide action planning to increase the likelihood that effective implementation can be scaled up and sustained across the entire system. Given the variability found in districts’ capacity across states, flexible infrastructure supports are needed so that they can be effectively adapted.