What is the Roadmap for Success?

The Roadmap for Success is an evidence-based model for making decisions, implementing practices, and monitoring the effects of education interventions. When most educators hear the term “evidence-based,” they think of research based on solid science, or more specifically, using research to make smart choices that produce positive results. Conventional wisdom suggests that once we know what works, it is a simple matter to apply new interventions in real-world education settings and then watch schools reap the benefits. The problem is the education landscape is strewn with interventions that have ample supporting research but fail miserably. There are also many examples of programs with poor or no research backing that are adopted and continue to be implemented despite poor outcomes.

It is obvious something is missing in current evidence-based models. How can it be that so much quality research is producing so little? The answer lies in the complexity and challenges inherent in bridging the gap between research and practice. An evidence-based model that produces results requires much more than a simple focus on selecting the right practice. What is needed is a way to join decision making, implementation, and monitoring into a dynamic model designed to adjust to and accommodate the reality of how schools operate.

Decision Making (How do we decide?)

Many variables go into a decision about which intervention to adopt and implement. By using both efficacy research (how interventions perform in highly controlled settings) and effectiveness research (how interventions perform under real-world conditions in which there is minimal control for student characteristics, setting features, resource demands, and social contingencies), educators can significantly increase the likelihood of making improved choices to better meet the needs of students.

An evidence-based decision-making framework emphasizes three components: (1) best available evidence, (2) client values, and (3) professional judgment. By examining efficacy research and effectiveness research, educators can more effectively use the existing knowledge base.

Implementation (How do we make it work?)

This critical feature of the Roadmap addresses all relevant variables so that an intervention can be successfully adopted and sustained. Successful implementation requires careful planning, consideration of how the intervention will mesh with[C4]  current practices, adequate resources for the intervention, training and support for those responsible for the intervention, and a method for evaluating the impact of the intervention and making rapid adjustments as needed to improve benefit.

Monitoring (Is it working?) 

Because no intervention will be universally effective, frequent monitoring of effects is necessary so that decisions can be made on how to proceed. Infrequent monitoring only wastes resources and time when an ineffective intervention is left in place too long. It is also essential to monitor how well the intervention is implemented (treatment integrity). That’s the only way to know whether an intervention is effective or ineffective and whether it was implemented properly or so poorly that benefit cannot reasonably be expected. Knowing about the quality of implementation allows practitioners to make data-informed judgments about the effects of an intervention. Making judgments about the effects in the absence of data about the quality results[C5]  in guessing and, in some instances, discontinuing interventions that would be effective if implemented properly.

Summary

Ultimately, the effective implementation of classroom practices designed for individual students or systemwide school improvement initiatives requires educators to address all three key elements of the Roadmap. The combination of evidence-based decision making, implementation, and monitoring are key to consistent services across schools that encourage continuous improvement and interventions that are sustained over time.