2019 Research Grant Results

Implementation Issues Faced By Districts During Implementation


Name: Kristen R. Rolf, M. Ed.

Title: State Department of Education Support for Implementation Issues Faced by School Districts during the Curriculum Adoption Process

Research Proposal: The curriculum-adoption process is an important stage in the process of implementing an instructional program that will support students to achieve at high levels. During this stage, state departments of education and/or local education agencies explore the curricula that are available and choose the one(s) that will, presumably, best meet the needs of their students. In addition to considering the content of the curricula under review, local education agencies need to consider issues related to the implementation of a curriculum. Metz, Halle, Bartley, and Blasberg (2013) describe four stages of implementation: exploration, installation, initial, and full. The process of adopting a curriculum that is likely to be effective is a critical activity within the exploration stage. To help organizations address these types of issues during the exploration stage, the National Implementation Research Network created The Hexagon Tool (National Implementation Research Network, 2018). The Hexagon Tool is a document that leads individuals and teams through evaluating implementation issues related to the adoption of an innovation and defines six facets of implementation: evidence, supports, usability, need, fit, and capacity.

            The amount of attention paid to implementation-related issues during the curriculum-adoption process by researchers and practitioners is unknown. In an attempt to learn more about the type of support that states provide to their local education agencies regarding implementation during the curriculum-adoption process, I asked the following question: How do state-created curriculum evaluation tools in core academic areas (i.e. English/language arts and mathematics) intersect with The Hexagon Tool created by the National Implementation Research Network?

 Summary: The results of this systematic review of the websites of all 50 of the departments of education in the United States show that relatively few states provide state-created curriculum evaluation tools in the areas of English/language arts and mathematics, and only one state provides a curriculum evaluation tool that thoroughly addresses issues of implementation. In the area of English/language arts, the implementation issue most commonly addressed is fit of an instructional program with the district. Evidence demonstrating the effectiveness of a curriculum and the district’s capacity to effectively implement a curriculum are the next two most frequently addressed implementation-related issues. In the area of mathematics, fit with the district is also the most commonly addressed implementation-related issue. The next two most frequently addressed implementation-related issues are supports for the personnel implementing the curriculum and the capacity of the district to successfully implement. Only one state provided a state-created evaluation tool that thoroughly addressed all aspects of implementation as defined by The Hexagon Tool. Interestingly, this tool was generic. It was not designed to be used with English/language arts or mathematics curricula specifically, but with a variety of innovations that districts may consider adopting.


Metz, A., Halle, T., Bartley, L., and Blasberg, A. (2013). The key components of successful implementation. In Applying implementation science in early childhood programs and systems. Baltimore, MD: Brookes, 21-42.

National Implementation Research Network. (2018). The hexagon: An exploration tool: Hexagon discussion & analysis tool instructions. Retrieved from https://implementation.fpg.unc.edu/sites/implementation.fpg.unc.edu/files/resources/NIRN_HexagonTool_11.2.18.pdf