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Capacity Building & Scale Up

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The multi-year project research design (and goal) was to initiate and support the expansion of the Science IDEAS intervention as a means of studying the evolution of a project-developed Multi-Phases Scale-Up Model from a research perspective. The goal of such a research pursuit was to identify knowledge and tools that would contribute toward the understanding of how to better scale-up research-validated interventions in K-12 school settings. In a complementary fashion, the criteria for determining the validity of the multi-phase scale-up design were based on its success in initiating and sustaining the implementation of the Science IDEAS project. Given the establishment of the validity of the scale-up model itself, the goal of the project was to explicate the elements of the scale-up process in a fashion that would allows them be transportable to other interventions and settings.

Before reviewing the multi-phase scale up model itself, it is important to recognize that the present Science IDEAS scale-up initiative reflects an explicit research and development perspective. The emphasis of such an instructional systems design perspective (e.g., Dick et al, 2004) is that the successful preparation of any educational product requires two major elements: (a) that the desired outcomes can be obtained consistently under specified implementation conditions and (b) that the implementation of the product in applied settings is engineered to fall within the capacity of the system that is to utilize it (minimizing capacity development requirements). Within the context of the present project, the “reverse-engineering” of such an research and development approach provided an architectural framework for approaching the question of how to scale-up research-based initiatives within regular school settings. Therefore, in the present project our definition of scaling is a functional one that establishes as success criteria and links together (a) the fidelity of implementation of an intervention and (b) the performance outcomes established through the prior research for the intervention that are to be met as performance standards. By these standards, if the fidelity of implementation and the associated outcomes can be maintained at existing sites (i.e., are sustainable) while the intervention is being expanded to new sites, then scale up can be considered successful.

Major Project Scale-Up Elements