To evaluate our education agencies

Consultants at ICI are helping state educators evaluate progress

Maureen Hawes thinks it is critical to evaluate education and human service agencies to assess their capacity to effectively implement programs and policies to improve the lives of whom they serve.

Maureen Hawes photo Maureen Hawes

Research Associate

All too often, policies are adopted or services get delivered without much regard for evaluating implementation fidelity. For instance, we know that simply applying a series of actions without considering their ramifications will not lead to desired outcomes. Fidelity evaluation looks at consistency with which program and service were delivered — and in the manner intended. Variable practices, implemented without careful rigor, are likely only to yield inconclusive results making widespread adoption impossible.

“Fidelity evaluation looks at consistency with which program and service were delivered — and in the manner intended.”
Group of people in a meeting

Hawes knows building capacity through professional development and training is critical to ensure that innovative programs are effectively implemented. Administrators must have some way of knowing whether the programs and services for which they are responsible are being implemented consistently and with articulated protocol. For example, are general and special education staff clear about their role in a Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS)? Are variable types of implementation likely to occur in different elementary schools within the district? These are just two questions that must be asked to assess the degree to which implementation fidelity has occurred

Photo of a student and teacher working together
“Administrators and teachers representing both general and special education groups are under pressure to meet an array of federal, state, and local policy requirements within systems in which their teaching performance is closely monitored and scrutinized.”

An important prerequisite to ensure implementation fidelity is to establish collaborative relationships among all involved. Hawes believes that innovation practices that work should be sustainable. There are far too many examples of a charismatic administrator or educator responsible for an innovative program who leaves the district and, as a consequence, the program ceases. New or existing staff are forced to pick up the pieces — often starting from scratch. Hawes is convinced such incidences are symptomatic of a lack of internal efforts to build capacity. Building capacity helps ensure that programs that work are sustainable, and backed by a robust infrastructure ready to meet future challenges.

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Institute on Community Integration

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