Improving Systems, Practices and Outcomes

Implementation Process: State Level Self-Assessment

The State Level Self-Assessment is a companion tool for a Guide to the Implementation Process: Stages, Steps & Activities. The Self-Assessment may be used by a State Leadership Team to guide and evaluate the systematic implementation, expansion and sustainability of new practices or innovations. By completing the Self-Assessment, the State Team can identify where they are in the implementation process (the Stage), as well rating as the steps and activities.

By reviewing all Stages, State Leadership Teams can develop plans for current and long-term implementation, expansion and sustainability work.

Both the Self-Assessment and the Guide follow a series of stages, steps and activities that are roughly sequential, but not linear. Some stages and steps may be worked on simultaneously. For example, a State Leadership Team may determine that many steps in a given stage are complete while some steps in a previous stage may need more work. The State Leadership Team may also determine that some steps or activities may not be relevant to a particular change initiative. Each State and the structure of its service systems is unique. Change efforts may target one early childhood service system (i.e., the IDEA infant and toddler program) or cross-age and cross-sector service systems (i.e., all early childhood services). A change initiative may also focus on adopting recommended practices, or building the service system capacity (for example, developing a data system or improving personnel development capacity). The Self-Assessment allows teams to assess the steps and activities within each stage that are relevant to their change initiative.

Despite differences in State structures, agency involvement and targeted practices or innovations, the Self-Assessment provides a useful way to systematically review progress and plan for the work ahead. Most change initiatives will take several years and plans will evolve. Rechecking progress with the Self-Assessment can help teams moving forward more intentionally. Through carefully planned implementation, the adoption of any new practices or innovation also builds the system’s capacity for the next change initiative.

The Guide and Self-Assessment are based on the literature of implementation science and the collective experiences of federally funded national centers in conducting state-wide system change initiatives. These centers include the National Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (NECTAC, currently the ECTA Center); the Technical Assistance Center on Social Emotional Intervention for Young Children (TACSEI), the Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning (CSEFEL), the National Implementation Research Network (NIRN) and the State Implementation of Scaling-Up Evidence-based Practices (SISEP).


The Self-Assessment has two components: the Pre-Test and the Self-Assessment by stage. Instructions for both components are included below.

DOC: Pre-Test

  • Read the outcomes for each stage. Mark those outcomes that have already accomplished.
  • If most or all of the outcomes at a particular stage have been checked or completed, move on to the next stage. Note the outcomes that still need work, so the relevant steps and activities in the “mostly completed” stage can be reviewed during the Self-Assessment.
  • Select the stage that reflects the State’s current status, (e.g., most or all outcomes in prior stage(s) are complete, while the selected stage has many outcomes to work on).

PDF: Self-Assessment

  • Find the stage selected in the Pre-Test in the next section, the Self-Assessment. Review all the steps in that Stage and rate each as:
    1. Not Begun;
    2. Needs Improvement; or
    3. Completed
  • Review the previous stage and identify any steps that still need to be completed.
  • As time allows, look through the following stages to help identify possible longer term next steps.

DOC: Planning Next Steps: Priorities, Next Steps & Who is Responsible

With this information, the State can make an excellent implementation plan for its program(s).

Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center

  • CB 8040
  • Chapel Hill, NC 27599-8040
  • phone: 919.962.2001
  • fax: 919.966.7463
  • email:

The ECTA Center is a program of the FPG Child Development Institute of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, funded through cooperative agreement number H326P120002 from the Office of Special Education Programs, U.S. Department of Education. Opinions expressed herein do not necessarily represent the Department of Education's position or policy.

  • FPG Child Development Institute
  • OSEP's TA&D Network:IDEAs that Work