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Implementing Action Plans

Implementing Action Plans

Author: Jody Waltman

In this lesson, students implement action plans developed following best-practice implementation strategies.

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In this tutorial, I'll share with you some practical best practices that you might wish to consider both when you are preparing to implement an action plan and then when you are actually going through the process of implementing the plan. After an overview of action plan implementation, I'll walk you through all six of these steps for successful implementation. We'll look at each step in detail. So let's get started.

One of the most important processes in site-based management supported continuous improvement efforts is the implementation of action plans at the team level, the school level, and the district level. For example, a school improvement team that creates a school improvement plan, including school improvement goals, will not only have to design the plan itself, but also that team will need to determine exactly how that plan is going to be implemented. For example, they may select a site-based initiative that would support the school stakeholders, as they are working towards achievement of those continuous improvement goals that the school improvement team included in the school improvement plan.

So the implementation process that I'll share with you in this tutorial can be applied to both the establishing and the implementation of any action plan that is designed to enact improvement or change within your school. This could be a long-range action plan like a school improvement plan with an associated site-based initiative, but it could also be a shorter range action plan, like a plan-do-study-act cycle, that is designed to help you measure your progress towards meeting the smaller goals that are contained within that larger plan. So whatever the size of the plan, all these types of plans are action plans by design. And so the steps that I'll share with you in this tutorial will be helpful in implementing any of those types of plans.

The first step in implementing your action plan is conducting a needs assessment. In developing the school improvement plan and then preparing that plan for implementation, the school improvement team, SIT, should conduct this needs assessment that helps to identify the desired outcomes and the related needs that will need to be considered in the plan.

The next step in implementing your action plan is considering the core areas of school functions within the four quadrants for action. These four quadrants include human resources and development, school organization, fiscal and technical resources, and social resources. Let's take a closer look at each of these quadrants in turn.

Human resources and development refers to the skills and the knowledge of both the teachers and any other professionals in the school environment that are going to allow us to reach our goals. Are there particular areas in which we'll need some additional training? What are teacher expectations for student learning going to be? Do teachers need to adjust any of those expectations in any way?

This is also where you would consider what professional development is going to be necessary to implement your plan. Are some of the pieces already in place or are there areas in which your PD is lacking? And finally, you would consider here any additional needs assessments, self-reflections, or other types of evaluations that might be considered at the school level in order to help develop your plan.

In the school organization quadrant, you would think about the schedule and the structure and the courses that are offered in the building. Do these school organization components help or hinder our efforts to reach our goals? Are there any mandates or guidelines that are required either by the district or by the state that we'll need to include in our plan?

You'll not only consider what curriculum and instruction and assessment areas might be connected to the needs that were identified, but you'll also consider ways in which the culture and the climate of the school might either support or block the implementation of your action plan. And finally, in this area, you'll also consider what types of student support services might be needed.

When it comes to fiscal and technical resources, you will examine whether you have what is wanted or needed in order to reach goals in terms of technology and materials and money. You'll determine whether you have the resources in place to implement the plan or whether there are areas that might be lacking.

And finally, in the area of social resources, you will determine whether community partnerships and parents might be able to, again, either help or hinder the progress towards the goals in the plan. And you'll determine whether your plan involves opportunities to engage both parents and the community in active ways within the plan. So you will want to address any potential issues in any of these areas before you would look at implementing the actual plan.

So, for example, let's say that your action plan focuses on implementing common core standards in mathematics and language arts. So as you are evaluating the human resources and development quadrant, you might determine that some additional professional development is needed in helping teachers to implement research-based strategies aligned with the common core standards.

Looking at the school organization quadrant, you would want to review the state and district guidelines or mandates as they relate to those common core state standards. So if your state has officially adopted the common core state standards, that is going to impact the school organization and how you approach the implementation of these standards.

When you're examining your fiscal and technical resources, you may determine that you are lacking some of the technical resources that might be necessary to implement or maybe assess student mastery of these standards. And finally, social resources-- when you are implementing the common core state standards, there might be a great deal of concern from parents who may potentially be misinformed about the standards. And so that would be another element that you would want to address in your implementation of your action plan. You would want to communicate clearly with parents your reasoning behind the implementation and then exactly how you're going to accomplish the various steps so that parents feel better informed.

The next step in the process of implementing your action plan is to actually design the plan in all of its details. So you would develop some action research questions that are going to guide your action planning. You would collect and then analyze your baseline data, and you would outline those specific action steps that will be carried out.

Next, you need to clearly communicate the plan. And this process would apply to a plan at any level, not only a district-level strategic plan or a school-level plan, like a school improvement plan or a site-based initiative plan, but it could also apply to your smaller team-level plan.

First, you need to clearly communicate the expected results. You might accomplish this by developing a rubric that would display what these expected results might look like on a continuum of not being present at all to effectively being implemented in practice. You also need to communicate the roles and responsibilities of all of the team members and of the entire school community.

And you also want to include a timeline that indicates that intervals at which progress in the action steps will be communicated. It's important to note that this plan communication should happen definitely before the plan is implemented but after the plan is designed so that you have all of the details correct in your communication.

So the next step is to implement the plan, actually put those planned steps into action. And finally, the final step in implementation is sustaining the plan. You need to ensure that you are meeting regularly to review your implementation progress data and to adjust any of your action steps accordingly. You also want to make it a priority to communicate your short-term successes and also to communicate any changes that are needed in a timely fashion.

So now it's your turn to stop and reflect. If you have previously implemented an action plan, were you missing any of these implementation steps in that process? To dive a little deeper and learn how to apply this information, be sure to check out the Additional Resources section associated with this video. This is where you'll find links targeted toward helping you discover more ways to apply this course material. Thanks for joining me. Have a great day.

Notes on "Implementing Action Plans"

(00:00 - 00:26) Introduction

(00:27 - 02:06) Overview of Action Plan Implementation

(02:07 - 02:33) Step 1: Conduct a Needs Assessment

(02:34 - 07:18) Step 2: Consider Core Areas of School Functions

(07:19 - 07:40) Step 3: Design the Plan

(07:41 - 08:52) Step 4: Communicate the Plan

(08:53 - 09:00) Step 5: Implement the Plan

(09:01 - 09:26) Step 6: Sustain the Plan

(09:27 - 09:56) Stop and Reflect

Additional Resources

Inquiry and Action: Making School Improvement Part of Daily Practice

This guide offers practical suggestions and strategies for implementing school improvement plans and processes.

School Improvement in Maryland: Implement the Action Plan

The Maryland Department of Education provides an at-a-glance view of school improvement plan implementation strategies.