Levels of Implementation

Why six levels of implementation?

The six levels of implementation used in this tool (Exploration, Installation, Initial Implementation, Full Implementation, Innovation, and Sustainability) are based on the results of a synthesis of diverse research, including implementation in the fields of mental health and public administration, conducted by the National Implementation Research Network (NIRN). These six levels were found to be universal stages of implementation for any large-scale initiative. The National Center on Response to Intervention, State Implementation & Scaling-up of Evidence-based Practices (SISEP), the IDEA Partnership, and the Center on Instruction have agreed that this six-level scheme of implementation is useful and appropriate when considering large-scale, or, for states choosing such, statewide implementation of RTI.

Levels of implementation defined

Adapted from Fixsen, D. L., Naoom, S. F., Blase, K. A., Friedman, R. M., & Wallace, F. (2005). Implementation research: A synthesis of the literature. Tampa, FL: University of South Florida, Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute, NIRN (FMHI Publication #231).

Exploration — actively considering a change; thinking about making use of RTI (this requires some degree of awareness that leads to acquisition of information and exploration of options). The purpose of exploration is to assess the potential match between state needs, evidence-based practice and education needs, and state resources and to make a decision to proceed (or not).

Installation — preparing for the implementation of RTI. Resources are being expended on active preparation for doing things differently, in keeping with the tenets of RTI. Structural supports necessary to initiate RTI are put in place.

Initial Implementation — actively engaged in implementing and supporting RTI. Implementation requires making changes and providing education, practice, and time for skill levels, organizational capacity, organizational culture, and so on, to mature.

Full Implementation — RTI is part of typical practice. It is integrated into practitioner, organizational, and community practices, policies, and procedures. At this point, RTI becomes fully operational with full staffing complements, RTI is being used with all students, and all of the other realities of “doing school” with RTI are being managed.

Innovation — learning more about RTI and the conditions under which it can be used with fidelity and good effect. New staff members working under different conditions within uniquely configured school circumstances present opportunities to refine and expand RTI implementation models. Some of the changes will be undesirable, while others will be defined as innovations that need to be included in the “standard model” of implementation practices (Winter & Szulanski, 2001). At some point, innovations may sufficiently change the definition and operations of an RTI model to merit a new round of experimental outcome studies to confirm the overall benefits of the revised model.

Sustainability — ensuring the continued use of RTI. The goal during this stage is the long-term survival and continued effectiveness of RTI implementation in the context of a changing world.