Cover: Readiness to Implement Evidence-Based Practices in Public Elementary Schools

Readiness to Implement Evidence-Based Practices in Public Elementary Schools

Findings from a National Survey of Teachers

Published Mar 23, 2022

by Alex R. Dopp, Michelle Bongard, Andrea Phillips, M. Rebecca Kilburn, William R. Johnston

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Research Questions

  1. How do elementary school teachers perceive the multilevel domains of readiness for EBP implementation at their schools?
  2. For which domain(s) do teachers' ratings appear to have the greatest implications for improving elementary schools' readiness to implement EBPs?

There is an increasing emphasis on the use of evidence-based practices (EBPs) by public elementary school teachers, yet little is known about how teachers and other education stakeholders (e.g., administrators, policymakers) can best support the successful implementation of such practices. The authors of this report sought to understand teachers' perspectives on their readiness to implement EBPs by surveying a nationally representative panel of 1,065 public elementary school teachers.

The survey, fielded from January 20, 2020, to February 24, 2020, covered three domains related to EBP adoption and implementation: (1) innovation characteristics (EBP appropriateness), (2) characteristics of individuals (openness to EBPs, burnout), and (3) inner setting characteristics (EBP implementation climate, management support).

Teachers' responses suggest that they view EBPs favorably, but they do not consistently see their workloads and school environments as conducive to using EBPs. Survey findings suggest that it is essential to understand teachers' perceptions of working conditions at their schools (e.g., inner setting characteristics, burnout), because those measures showed the most variability in survey response data. Indeed, a school's ability to assess readiness for EBPs is an important first step toward cultivating the conditions for successful EBP implementation, and too often teachers are not able to give input into assessing readiness.

The authors discuss the implications of survey findings for EBP implementation in elementary school settings, with a focus on how school administrators, policymakers, teachers, and other stakeholders might best understand what is needed to successfully implement EBPs, both prior to and during the implementation process.

Key Findings

  • Elementary school teachers generally viewed EBPs favorably and were open to using them.
  • Teachers' ratings showed much greater variation for burnout, which could signal teachers' reduced desire or ability to take on the new tasks or roles involved in using a new EBP, and for inner setting variables related to their schools' support for EBP use.
  • It is essential to understand teachers' perceptions of working conditions (e.g., inner setting, burnout) at their school because teachers' ratings in those domains appeared most informative for efforts to improve readiness for EBP implementation.

Recommendation

  • Schools' initial readiness assessments should include teachers' feedback on specific EBP options and a brief check for any anti-EBP attitudes; once an EBP is chosen for implementation, the next stage of readiness assessment should include teachers' perspectives on their working conditions to identify key barriers that might impede implementation of the chosen EBP.

This study was sponsored by the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice and conducted by the Justice Policy Program within RAND Social and Economic Well-Being and RAND Education and Labor.

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