Improving Systems, Practices and Outcomes

Benchmarks of Quality

The Benchmarks of Quality (BoQ) are tools that guide the work of the State Leadership Team and the Program Leadership Teams.


The Benchmarks of Quality are checklists used by the leadership teams to assess where they are in the process of implementing evidence-based practices. This includes developing the necessary structures for guiding and supporting the implementation of evidence-based practices, and planning the next steps in the process of full implementation, scale up, and sustainability. The benchmarks are designed to help teams move through the stages of implementation and build the systems and supports needed for high-fidelity use of the evidence-based practices.

The Benchmarks of Quality are grounded in implementation science, an area of research focused on identifying critical factors and conditions needed to successfully adopt, integrate, and sustain evidence-based practices. There are three Benchmarks of Quality used in this guide:

State Leadership Team BoQ sections:

  • Critical Elements
  • Benchmarks of Quality
  • Who (who is responsible)
  • A rating of 0-2 for each Benchmark (not in place, emerging, in place)

Program Leadership Team BoQs (classroom-based/home-visiting) sections:

  • Critical Elements
  • Implementation Benchmarks
  • A rating scale (not in place, partially in place, not in place)


The Benchmarks of Quality serve as a self-assessment for the leadership teams to measure the progress of implementation. The State Leadership Team uses the State Leadership Team BoQ to guide the development of the four essential support structures. This includes: establishing the state team, recruiting and training the Professional Development Network of Program Coaches, recruiting and supporting the implementation and demonstration sites, and developing and using the data and evaluation systems.

The Classroom-based Programs and Home-Visiting Programs Benchmarks of Quality guide the Program Leadership Teams in developing the systems and procedures for implementing the evidence-based practices with fidelity throughout the program. This includes: establishing the leadership team, establishing and maintaining staff buy-in, engaging families, providing coaching and professional development, and gathering and using data.


The leadership teams use the BoQ to self-assess in one of their initial meetings. The assessment is done as a group. Team members will discuss each item as a group to form a common understanding of the item's current status and decide what actions will move them forward. Subsequent assessments are done every six months to measure progress. The group ratings are entered into a spreadsheet and progress is visually displayed. After ratings are established, the team develops an action plan that will strengthen implementation of the critical elements.


All Statewide Implementation Guide tools and materials are listed on the Tools webpage.

  • IDEAs that Work: Office of Special Education Programs, U.S. Department of Education

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 H326P170001 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.

Project Officer: Julia Martin Eile     © 2012-2019 ECTA Center

  • UNC Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute