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August 2021 Newsletter

Welcome to the August newsletter.  Historically, the newsletter has focused on identifying effective practices; however, there is growing recognition in the field that without focused efforts on implementation, interventions are not likely to produce the intended effects.  Interventions are often abandoned in favor of another intervention that holds promise without ever knowing if the abandoned intervention was implemented with fidelity.  In recognition of the importance of implementation, the focus of the newsletter is shifting to more explicit attention to the complexities of the implementation of effective programs.  We look forward to continuing to explore Implementation Science and how it can facilitate educational outcomes for students in future issues of this newsletter.
While there are many implementation frameworks, in this newsletter we will examine research through the Active Implementation Frameworks ( perspective.  Please see the figure below for a brief description of this framework. For more detailed information please see Fixsen, Blasé, & Van Dyke, Implementation Practice and Science. 2019.  In Figure 1, there is the recognition that identifying effective interventions is necessary, but must be accompanied by effective implementation in an enabling context.  If any of these elements is missing then achieving the intended benefits of the intervention is uncertain.  From this figure, it is clear that implementation is a complex social process.  More discussion of the Active Implementation Frameworks will follow in future newsletters.  
The articles featured in this newsletter reflect some of the various aspects of the Active Implementation Framework.  In addition to four research articles, we feature two recent original papers from the Wing Institute.  


Figure 1: Active Implementation Frameworks
From: Duda, M., Penfold, A., Wernikoff, L., & Wilson, B. (2014). Make “it” happen: Using implementation science with Wilson programs. Oxford, MA: Wilson Language Training Corp.

Wing Institute Commentary

A Comment about Covid and Implementation Science.

The new school year brings additional levels of complexity.  Opening schools and returning to live instruction while keeping students and staff safe is complicated by the fact that not everyone eligible for vaccination is vaccinated, willing to wear a mask, and follow other safety protocols.  There seems to be a tendency in the general public to assume that everyone that is not vaccinated are opposed to the Covid-19 vaccines.  This may not be the case.  There are many possible reasons for not getting vaccinated.  For example, some individuals may not be vaccinated because they fear they will be arrested and deported for being undocumented.  Some members of the Black community may distrust the government because of lingering doubts about the integrity of the government following the Tuskegee experiment.  Finally, some individuals living in poverty may resist the vaccine because of misinformation that there is a cost to getting vaccinated and lack of easy access to vaccine clinics.  
The classic work by Everett Rogers (2010), Diffusion of Innovations, describes those who are not yet vaccinated as being late adopters.  Rogers suggests that if we are to reach the late adopters, we will have to use different messaging strategies.  In order to craft effective messaging, it will be necessary to understand the motivation underlying the reluctance to get vaccinated.  Rogers has recognized that the message should be carried by someone that is credible to the each sub-group.  In this instance, it will be necessary to identify local champions from each community that we are trying to influence and empower them to carry the message to the community.  The messenger may not be a health professional or government representative.  Who the messenger is does not matter as long as they are influential within their community. This is a constructive and productive approach that seeks to understand and work cooperatively with those that have chosen to not yet get vaccinated rather than vilifying those that are not yet vaccinated.

Wing Institute Original Work

How Effective are Interventions to Reduce Discipline Disproportionality?

There are two original papers in this newsletter are written by Samantha Cleaver.  

Instructional Effectiveness 

The first is a paper, Instructional Effectiveness (, addresses the issue of the best instructional methods for preparing teachers to provide meaningful instruction and classroom management.  Research by Hattie (2009) has identified four key areas for teachers to master: formative assessment, classroom management, teaching strategies, and instruction in writing, math, science, and reading.  There are two fundamental issues to be addressed in teacher preparation programs: (1) What are the best pedagogical methods for assuring that teachers have the knowledge required to function effectively? (2) How is experiential learning organized so there is maximal transfer of knowledge to application in classroom settings?  The most common method of addressing the knowledge component is the classroom lecture format and is based on the assumption that a lecturer telling a learner about something will automatically translate to application.  This does not seem to be reasonable.  In recognition of the limitations of lecture, experiential learning has become a standard component of teacher preparation.  There are a wide variety of ways that this is carried out in practice, both in terms of the amount of time spent in experiential learning and who provides the supervision of the teacher candidate.  The evidence is emerging about the best approaches to knowledge acquisition and application.  The paper provides several recommendations for improving the instructional effectiveness of teacher preparation. Instructional effectiveness links to the Competency drivers, especially Training and Coaching, and the Organizational drivers of Systems Intervention and Facilitative Administration.  Since the experiential component of teacher preparation requires collaboration between the training institution and a school district site to provide experiential learning opportunities, it is important to have a well-functioning Implementation Team to coordinate across the two institutions (universities and districts).  
Teacher Preparation Models

The second original paper addresses the question, what are the best program models for preparing teachers?  In addition to traditional university training programs, in recent years alternative paths to certification have developed in an effort to fill teacher workforce shortages.  In this paper, Dr. Cleaver reviews the evidence about the relative effectiveness of the various program models ( and offers recommendations for improving teacher preparation.  In the review of the research literature, it was highlighted that there are a number of interrelated system features that influence the ultimate quality of teacher preparation programs.  Among those system components are university teacher preparation programs, school districts that provide sites for experiential learning, and state education agencies that establish standards and licensure policies for teachers.  Effective teacher preparation requires that these systems work together.  Disconnects between any of these components weaken the outcomes for teacher preparation programs.  If the goal is to improve teacher preparation, the model must be usable in the sense that those responsible for implementing the model can actually implement it.  This requires both strong, facilitative leadership, and a commitment to continuous improvement cycles.


How Effective are Interventions to Reduce Discipline Disproportionality?

Disproportionality in the application of school discipline policies has been well documented over the years (Skiba, et al. (2011), and has been resistant to change.  In a systematic review of the evidence of the effectiveness of programs and practices to reduce disproportionality, Cruz, Firestone, and Rodl (2021) found that the positive effects of individual programs such as School Wide Interventions and Support, and Restorative Justice, were either mixed or not evident.  More promising were results from combining practices from different programs and including a specific equity framework for training educators.  The most promising results were obtained when in-class coaching was a component of the training approach.  The challenge of implementing a coaching model was identifying the necessary human and time resources, as well as the financial resources, to effectively implement coaching.  This paper touches on several important aspects of the Active Implementation Frameworks including the identification of effective practices (usable innovations) and implementation drivers (professional development, leadership, and enabling contexts).  The absence of any one of these features will limit the overall impact on efforts to reduce disproportionality.

Do Principals Feel They Have Influence Over Decisions in Their School?


Contemporary models of principal leadership are that principals are expected to be the instructional leaders in their schools.  At least two questions emerge from this expectation: (1) Do principals have the ability to influence instructional decisions in their schools? (2) Do principals have the necessary training to base instructional decisions on the best available evidence?  In a recent report published by the National Center for Education Statistics at IES (July, 2021), the degree to which principals in traditional public schools, private schools, and charter schools felt like they have influence over decisions across a number of domains of school leadership was assessed.  The degree to which they felt they had influence was related to the type of school in which they were working.  Particularly, interesting from the perspective of principals as instructional leaders, is that only 39% of principals in traditional public schools felt like they had influence over establishing curriculum.  This figure is considerably lower than for principals in private schools (69%) and principals in public charter schools (59%).  This raises the question do traditional public school principals have a commitment to the curriculum choices that are made?  If they do not, then one has to wonder if they will be champions for the curriculum and effective instructional leaders?  In terms of the Active Implementation Frameworks, effective implementation of the model of principals as instructional leaders requires that principals be involved in the identification of useable innovations, the actual implementation of the innovation in their school, and access to the data about the effectiveness of the innovation.  In addition, if principals are to be effective instructional leaders then the competency drivers of selection, training, and coaching need to be present so principals will have the necessary skills to function in those roles.  Finally, the leadership drivers of technical skills and adaptive leadership skills are necessary to adapt an instructional practice into a particular organizational and school context.  It would be interesting to see how the practices in private schools and public charter schools differ from traditional public schools that results in principals reporting they have influence over decisions involving curriculum.  This article only addresses the question of do principals have influence over curriculum decisions?  It does not address the extent to which principals have the skills to base decisions on best available evidence. Please see the Wing Institute paper on Best Available Evidence ( for more on this topic.

How Well do Universities Prepare Pre-Service Candidates to Pass Licensure Exam?

Essential to improving educational outcomes for students is to assure that well prepared teachers are in every classroom.  Teacher preparation programs are primarily responsible for preparing candidates.  One measure of how well institutions are preparing teachers is the percentage of candidates that pass state licensure tests.  The National Council on Teacher Quality ( recently released a report examining the pass rate of elementary education teachers by state, by de-identified teacher preparation institutions, and disaggregated data for candidates of color and socio-economic status.  Different states have different standards, rely on different methods to assess performance, and have different criteria for passing scores.  Thirty-four states provided complete data for this report, eight provided partial data, and nine states provided no data.  Based on the available data, nationally 55% of teacher candidates failed the exam on their first try.  The data vary considerably across states and across institutions within and across states.  One of the conclusions of this report is that elementary teacher candidates, regardless of race and ethnicity, are “too often poorly prepared and supported to pass their state licensure tests.”  The authors of the report identified a number of issues with how states are currently assessing teacher competency.  The report concludes with a number of recommendations for improving teacher preparation programs so that more teachers pass the licensure test.  These data are directly relevant to the competency implementation driver in the Active Implementation Frameworks.  Implementation efforts are not likely to be successful if competent personnel are not available to implement the innovation.  Competency is primarily the responsibility of the teacher preparation programs.  These programs would be well served to attend to the recommendations of this report.  In addition, education policy makers should review their state’s current methods for assessing the competency of teacher candidates.

Do Teacher Retention Bonuses Keep High Quality Teachers in High Poverty Schools?

The data are clear that students in high poverty schools perform worse on most measures of educational attainment; however, the discrepancy between high poverty schools and more affluent schools is reduced when there are quality teachers in the high poverty schools.  The challenge is that teachers leave these schools at a higher rate.  This turnover contributes to the poor outcomes for students in high poverty schools. Recruiting and training replacement teachers is an expensive proposition for districts.  One approach to increasing retention in high poverty schools is to offer retention bonuses to teachers in these schools.  There are two questions with respect to the use of retention bonuses: 1) are they effective over the long term, and 2) does having a more stable teachering corps increase student outcomes?  A recent report examined the impact of teacher retention bonuses in Tennessee (Springer, Swain, & Rodriguez, 2016).  The main findings are that teachers that participated in the retention bonus program were significantly more likely to stay in their school than teachers who did not participate.  Importantly, the students in the classrooms of participating teachers had significantly higher academic gains than students of non-participating teachers.  Looking at these data through the Active Implementation Frameworks lens, the retention bonus represents a usable innovation.  The teacher retention bonuses are also an element of the Competency driver, specifically Selection.  Finally, this innovation links to the Organizational driver since to effectively implement it, the innovation has to be considered a system level intervention.



Cleaver, S., Detrich, R., States, J. & Keyworth, R. (2021). Teacher Preparation: Instructional Effectiveness. Oakland, CA: The Wing Institute.

Cleaver, S., Detrich, R. & States, J. (2021). Teacher Preparation Models. Oakland, CA: The Wing Institute

Cruz, R. A., Firestone, A. R., & Rodl, J. E. (2021). Disproportionality reduction in exclusionary school discipline: A best-evidence synthesis. Review of Educational Research91(3), 397-431.
Duda, M., Penfold, A., Wernikoff, L., & Wilson, B. (2014). Make “it” happen: Using implementation science with Wilson programs. Oxford, MA: Wilson Language Training Corp.
Fixsen, D. L., Blase, K., & Van Dyke, M. K. (2019). Implementation practice & science. Active Implementation Research Network.
Hattie, J. (2009). Visible learning: A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses related to achievement. Routledge. 
National Center for Education Statistics at IES. (2021).  Principals’ Perceptions of Influence Over Decisions at Their Schools in 2017-2018. Author. 
Putman, H. & Walsh, K. (2021). Driven by Data: Using Licensure Tests to Build a Strong, Diverse Teacher Workforce. Washington, D.C.: National Council on Teacher Quality.
Rogers, E. M. (2010). Diffusion of innovations. Simon and Schuster.
Skiba, R. J., Horner, R. H., Chung, C. G., Rausch, M. K., May, S. L., & Tobin, T. (2011). Race is not neutral: A national investigation of African American and Latino disproportionality in school discipline. School Psychology Review40(1), 85-107.
Springer, M. G., Swain, W. A., & Rodriguez, L. A. (2016). Effective teacher retention bonuses: Evidence from Tennessee. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis38(2), 199-221.

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