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Why Should School Districts Focus on Effective Implementation?

Research-based initiatives should drive what happens in classrooms and schools. However, too often we see that new education initiatives fade away mid-year or that they have mixed results. The Bush Institute has released an effective implementation tool to help change this practice.

Article by Anne Wicks November 7, 2019 //   3 minute read

School districts regularly deploy a new campus or system wide initiative designed to improve student outcomes, but those districts often struggle to fully realize the potential of that change. Huge amounts of resources – money, people, and time— are invested in initiatives with little, if any, attention paid to how the work will get done or how it aligns with other efforts underway.

Research-based initiatives should drive what happens in classrooms and schools. However, too often we see that new education initiatives fade away mid-year or have mixed results even when the design and substance are sound.  Commonly the “what” – the new program or initiative – is where leaders solely put their focus. Often missing is the “how” - the disciplined process to take that new idea from concept to reality. Without this, results are sporadic and success is difficult to achieve.

The George W. Bush Institute’s Education Reform Initiative recently released a tool designed to help education leaders turn their vision into reality – the Effective Implementation Framework.  We are currently using it in our School Leadership District Cohort research project with four district partners.  Our “what” is GWBI’s Principal Talent Management Framework – a resource to help districts attract, support, and retain strong school principals in every school.  Our “how” is our Effective Implementation Framework - a resource that help districts manage change in complex environments.

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Most educators want to do the right thing, but complex obstacles hinder their effectiveness. Driving for student success – across classrooms and districts – is hard work.  It requires expertise, discipline, and courage. School leaders need to challenge assumptions, rethink autonomy, consider stakeholders, and acknowledge trade-offs to make necessary changes. Further, educators are very rarely supported or trained in this kind of strategic management, even though their jobs regularly require making high stakes decisions with limited resources.

This is why the Bush Institute’s Effective Implementation Framework has been carefully researched to help leaders through their journey. The Bush Institute plans to release guidebooks as a toolkit for the Effective Implementation Framework. Each guidebook will have a different focus:

  • Initiate change
  • Engage stakeholders
  • Build capacity
  • Set goals and create plan
  • Execute, reflect, and improve

The guidebooks will create a complete ecosystem of resources education leaders can use to turn their vision into reality.

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