Implementation involves putting a plan into effect, including the process of monitoring progress, making adjustments, and evaluating impact.
Once school districts and communities have identified those areas of school climate and conditions for learning that need to be addressed, they must apply their data to make an informed decision about which programmatic interventions should be implemented to improve student outcomes. The planned and intentional implementation of evidence-based programs requires close partnership and greatly increases the potential for positive student outcomes and contributes to the overall safety and supportiveness of learning environments.
A programmatic intervention is any program, strategy, activity, service, or policy implemented in a school or community setting that:
- prevents and reduces youth crime, violence, harassment, bullying, and the illegal use of drugs, alcohol, and tobacco
- creates positive relationships between students and adults
- promotes parent and community engagement
- promotes the character, social, and emotional development of students
- provides or improves access to social services
- enables school communities to manage student behaviors effectively while lowering suspensions and expulsions
- provides other needed social and emotional supports for students
Programmatic interventions should be based on the best available evidence, including, where available, strong or moderate evidence.
Strong evidence means evidence from studies with designs that can support causal conclusions (i.e. studies with high internal validity), and studies that, in total, include enough of the range of participants and settings to support scaling up to the State, regional, or national level (i.e. studies with high external validity).
Moderate evidence means evidence from previous studies with designs that can support causal conclusions (i.e. studies with high internal validity) but have limited generalizability (i.e. moderate external validity) or from studies with high external validity, but moderate internal validity.
Implementation of programmatic interventions in your school or community is an ongoing process undertaken by school climate teams or others involved in improving student outcomes. Each year, the team should review collected data and implement those interventions that address identified areas of need. The following graphic provides a model for use by school climate teams and/or communities to identify and implement programmatic interventions.
Our model of implementation is based upon research conducted by the National Implementation Research Network (NIRN). NIRN has identified a sequence of stages that implementation efforts must address in order to be successful: exploration and adoption, program installation, initial implementation, full implementation, innovation, and sustainability. These stages represent an iterative process, as efforts are reassessed or reevaluated in light of new realities.
Each year, survey data will help you identify and target areas in your school, district, or state that are in need of improvement. This ongoing data collection will guide you in revising and adjusting your larger implementation plan, while allowing you to target resources to the areas most in need. Read brief descriptions of each stage here. Once you're ready to begin the process, check out our helpful checklist for Identifying and Implementing Programmatic Interventions.
Begin by bringing together a school climate team, ideally making use of an existing team or group involved in school climate. Work together to review data and to plan and implement programmatic interventions. Your team will need to:
- Develop a communication plan for documenting and describing your process and activities to key stakeholder groups. It is important to communicate team activities, timeline, and other relevant information to stakeholders on a regular basis.
- Analyze survey and incident data to determine needs and prevalence of need.
- Utilize the 3 Tier Model of Intervention to determine where to intervene based on student strengths and needs.
- Review existing plans for the school, district, or community which address identified needs and priorities, such as School Improvement Plans or District Strategic Plans.
- Select target areas related to identified needs.
- Develop a shared vision and related goals for your school or community based on data.
With your team, begin by identifying programmatic interventions that are currently in place within your school or community at each Tier (individualized supports, early interventions, and school-wide interventions). It will be important to review data on current interventions at each level to discern what is working well and what is not successful. Those interventions that have not been successful may need to be bolstered or replaced by programmatic interventions better suited to your school or community's identified needs.
Based on the data you collect and existing programmatic interventions, your team will determine whether changes are necessary. You may find that your data supports the continued use of some existing interventions, or that interventions require some changes to fully address conditions for learning. Your team may also find that additional programmatic interventions are required in order to address all of the needs identified by your data.
Your team will then identify other programmatic interventions that address the target area and needs, being sure to think about:
• Available resources
• Strength of evidence
• Readiness for replication
• Capacity to implement
When selecting programmatic interventions for consideration, be sure to focus on those that specifically address your identified targets and areas of need, as revealed by your data. Based on identified needs and assessment results, your team will select one or more interventions for each tier to implement over the next year.
Directories of Programmatic Interventions
SAMHSA's National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP) is a searchable online registry of more than 175 interventions that support mental health promotion, substance abuse prevention, and mental health and substance abuse treatment. Although it is not an exhaustive list of interventions, it is a valuable resource for the field of prevention.
Youth.Gov Program Directory features evidence-based programs whose purpose is to prevent and/or reduce delinquency or other problem behaviors in young people. The Background & Methodology page describes how the Program Directory was developed and how programs are evaluated and categorized. The Research page describes risk and protective factors and how those factors are relevant to youth programs. It includes a biography of recent research.
PromotePrevent, the website of the National Center for Mental Health Promotion and Youth Violence Prevention is another resource for states, districts, and schools interested in researching and implementing evidence-based programs. The National Center offers an array of products and services that enable schools and communities to plan, implement, evaluate, and sustain activities that foster resilience, promote mental health, and prevent youth violence and mental and behavioral disorders.
Child Trends Lifecourse Interventions to Nurture Kids Successfully (LINKS) provides updated trend data with the latest national estimates for all child-related indicators, as well as a searchable database of evidence-based programs. Users can search by indicators (e.g. health and safety, child care and education, behaviors) and subcategories within those interest areas (e.g. bullying) or by criteria (e.g. population, program characteristics, outcomes). When searching for indicators, users can find background information; trend data; state, local, and international estimates; and related evidence-based programs.
Once your team has selected one or more programmatic interventions for implementation, you'll begin planning needed changes. Be sure that you have information on all aspects of your selected intervention(s) and have considered how your selected programs address individualized needs, early interventions for at-risk students, and school-wide improvement of Conditions for Learning (see tiered model of intervention). Develop a logic model that aligns with your stated vision, goals, plans, and selected interventions. This logic model will help to guide your team's planning and activities for the year as you determine how you will implement each aspect of the selected programmatic intervention.
At the completion of the planning phase of your implementation efforts, the team will begin the work of implementing your selected programmatic intervention(s) in each tier (individualized supports, early interventions, and school-wide supports). This will likely include:
• Conducting professional development and training activities
• Providing access to technical assistance and support
• Conducting regular monitoring of progress throughout the year
• Providing feedback about progress
• Assessing needs of implementers and responding as needed
As your team moves through implementation, you'll continue to gather, assess and analyze data about progress, student outcomes, and other information as relevant. This data will help your team refine your programmatic interventions, make adjustments or midcourse corrections as needed, and identify new or unmet needs. Return to step 1 to address new data, new information, or new student populations.