Upstream Thinking . . . Who will pay for what does not happen?

“We can pay to fix problems once they happen, or we can pay in advance to prevent them.”

~ Dan Heath

Let’s shift thinking a little.  Within the continuous improvement process, based on a needs assessment, teams determine evidence-based strategies to implement.  Throughout this process, teams ask, what is the right thing to do? And, can we do it the right way? 

Historically, teams tended to jump right into implementation without fully assessing district and school readiness.  The Hexagon Tool, from the National Implementation Research Network (NIRN), can help address, can we do it the right way?  Part of the Michigan Integrated Continuous Improvement Process (MICIP) is to use the Hexagon Tool to determine readiness for strategy implementation.  Continuous improvement teams evaluate the district and school(s)’ readiness on a scale of 1(low) – 5 (high) in six categories:  Need, Evidence, Fit, Usability, Capacity, and Supports.

You may be asking, “What does the Hexagon Tool have to do with being an upstream organization especially as it relates to who will pay for what doesn’t happen?”  Let’s think about Teacher Collaborative Routines (TCR).  As a district is getting ready to implement TCR, district and building teams determine readiness. Teams have conversations around and assess the six facets found within the Hexagon Tool.  Some example prompts may be:

  • Need – Does analysis of the data identify that this evidence-based practice is a specific area of need?  If the practice is implemented, what could potentially change for student outcomes?
  • Evidence – Are there research data available to demonstrate the effectiveness of this evidence-based practice?  What outcomes are expected when the practice is implemented as intended?  How much of a change can be expected?
  • Fit – How does the evidence-based practice fit with priorities of the district/school? How does this practice fit with other existing initiatives? 
  • Usability – Is there guidance on core features that can be modified or adapted to increase contextual fit?  Do these core features differ for specific populations, such as for racial/ethnic groups?  If so, how?  Is there a fidelity assessment that measures practitioner behavior (i.e., assessment of whether staff use the practice as intended)?
  • Capacity – Typically, how much does it cost to run this evidence-based practice each year? Are there resources to support this cost?  If the current budget cannot support implementation, what might be a resource development strategy?  Is leadership knowledgeable about and in support of this evidence-based practice?  Do leaders have the diverse skills and perspectives representative of the community being served?
  • Supports – Is training and professional development related to this evidence-based practice readily available?  Is training culturally sensitive?  Does the training use adult learning best practices?  Does it address issues of race, equity, cultural responsiveness, or implicit bias? What is the cost of this training?

At the end-of-the-day, when considering who will pay for what doesn’t happen, if district- and school-level teams don’t take time to consider readiness, they are sabotaging the intent behind their desire to build collective teacher efficacy through teacher collaborative routines.  By investing in implementing Teacher Collaborative Routines with fidelity, collective teacher efficacy increases, dropout rates decrease, graduation rates increase, students are successful, and society, overall, benefits.  

The Leader’s and Teacher’s Corner sections will support you with deeper thinking around who will pay for what does not happen.