Improving Systems, Practices and Outcomes

Implementation Sites and Demonstration Sites

The Implementation Sites and Demonstration Sites are one of four essential support structures:


Implementation Sites

Implementation sites are local sites or programs selected for the initiative by the State Leadership Team (SLT). Sites receive training on the implementation of the selected evidence-based practices, implementing these with high fidelity, and collecting and reporting data on outcomes.

Demonstration Sites

Demonstration sites are implementation sites that are selected to serve as a showplace for high-fidelity implementation.


The purpose of the implementation sites is to provide a “laboratory” to identify and solve problems that may arise during program implementation. The purpose of demonstration sites is to showcase the practices in use, host tours, promote the initiative, and share their data on implementation and outcomes.

Implementation sites' responsibilities:

  • oversee program-wide implementation of the practices, led by the Program Leadership Team (PLT)
  • guide the initiative, assess progress, and plan future actions using the classroom or home-visiting Benchmarks of Quality, led by the PLT
  • provide training and coaching to support practice change, led by the practitioner coaches
  • collect data on the fidelity of program and practice implementation and on child outcomes, led by the data coordinators

Demonstration sites' additional responsibilities:

  • sharing data annually with the SLT on the outcomes of the selected practices and implementation process
  • sharing challenges and solutions to implementation and sustainability with the SLT
  • hosting visits from policy makers and personnel from other programs interested in implementing the practices
  • partnering with the SLT to raise awareness of the initiative

Two years is the average time required for a site to achieve a high level of fidelity in implementing the selected practices. Large programs may take additional time.

Details on the process towards reaching demonstration site status and the rationale for demonstration sites are found in the following resources:

Site Selection

Initial Implementation

When the SLT chooses sites, they should focus on programs that have the capacity to implement practices with fidelity and sustain the effort. The SLT may solicit nominations of high-quality programs from knowledgeable sources.

Examples of implementation sites:

  • a building-level program
  • a cluster of pre-K or Head Start or child care classrooms located within a school or district
  • an early childhood program comprised of multiple centers guided by an organizational unit
  • a unit of Part C/early intervention services
  • Part C/early intervention home-visiting programs might be a site when a group of home-visiting professionals works within an organizational structure providing:
    • supervision
    • collaborative teaming
    • professional development

Implementation sites need:

  • a strong, stable administrative team
  • limited turnover in program staff
  • to not be participating in competing initiatives
  • a willingness to change policies and procedures, collect data, and provide coaching support to staff

The SLT should develop site selection procedures, including a site application packet consisting of:

  • a list of what the site is committing to
  • the minimum criteria for implementation sites (e.g., serving children with disabilities, QRIS minimum rating, etc.)
  • questions about the demographics of the program
  • questions about the program's structure

The SLT sends the application to nominated sites. Implementation sites are required to list proposed Program Leadership Team (PLT) members in their applications. In the application, proposed PLT members sign that they understand the commitment required.

After the SLT scores applications, it should:

  • visit application sites
  • interview the program administrator(s)
  • discuss the opportunity in more detail with proposed PLT members

Once an implementation site is selected, the program administrator signs a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that is then signed by the State Coordinator. The MOU will make clear the expectations of both parties in this process.

Once all the implementation sites are selected, the SLT should promote the initiative through a news release or announcement to gain public attention and spread the word about the initiative.

Demonstration Site

Demonstration sites are selected by the SLT from existing implementation sites using a predetermined criterion, for example, when 75% of staff participating in the initiative have reached fidelity or when 75% of a program’s sites have reached implementation with practice fidelity.


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