Improving Systems, Practices and Outcomes

SSIP Phase II: Key Terms

  • Evaluation Plan: A written document describing how information will be collected about and used to inform key activities of the SSIP.
  • Evaluation Questions: The key questions the state wants to answer with the evaluation. For example, are providers implementing the evidence based practices effectively?
  • Evidence-Based Practices: "...for the early childhood field: Evidence-based practice is a decision-making process that integrates the best available research evidence with family and professional wisdom and values." (Buysse & Wesley, p.12) and “evidence-based practices can be defined as: Practices that are informed by research, in which the characteristics and consequences of environmental variables are empirically established and the rela­tionship directly informs what a practitioner can do to produce a desired outcome." (Dunst, et al., p.3)
  • Feedback Loops: Feedback loops are communication processes used to gain input, analyze data and problem solve during the implementation process. Feedback loops are used among the State Leadership Team, Implementation Teams and Implementation Sites.
  • Implementation Drivers: Implementation drivers are a framework for organizing the capacity and infrastructure that influences the successful implementation of a new innovation or practice. Drivers include capacity for promoting competency through professional development, leadership and organizational supports such as policy and procedures, funding, administration, data systems, etc. The Phase II plan should include the implementation drivers used to achieve short- and long-term SSIP outcomes. The National Implementation Research Network (NIRN) website provides detailed information about the types and uses of implementation drivers.
  • Implementation Science: The principles of Implementation Science (Fixsen,, 2005) have been embedded into the design of the SSIP process and OSEP expects that states will use the principles in planning and implementing improvement strategies. The definition of the plan for Phase II from the Part C State Performance Plan (SPP) and Annual Performance Report (APR): Part C Indicator Measurement Table includes that the planning will be developed "with attention to the research on implementation." Throughout this document, we will introduce and embed key concepts of Implementation Science as they relate to the plan to be developed in Phase II. Included in each section are resources for readers to learn more about Implementation Science. Although all implementation frameworks (e.g. implementation teams, usable interventions, implementation stages, implementation drivers, and improvement cycles) need to be considered in Phase II, the implementation drivers are critical to address in the plan.
    • Fixsen, D. L., Naoom, S. F., Blase, K. A., Friedman, R. M. &Wallace, F. (2005). Implementation Research: A Synthesis of the Literature. Tampa, FL: University of South Florida, Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute, The National Implementation Research Network (FMHI Publication #231).
  • Implementation Team: Implementation Teams (also called Local Leadership Teams) provide active leadership at the regional or program level to manage the implementation efforts and support the people using the new innovation or practice. The teams engage in continuous communication and feedback with the State Leadership Team about the issues, successes, and needed resources to support successful implementation and expansion.
  • Improvement Plan: A written document that includes the activities and steps for implementing the improvement strategies to achieve the intended outcomes.
  • Improvement Strategies: A state's improvement strategies outline the course of action in achieving the Theory of Action.
  • Logic Model: A systematic and visual way to present and share your understanding of the relationships among the resources you have to operate your program, the activities you plan, and the changes or results you hope to achieve.
  • Outcomes:
    • Intended Outcome: Outcomes at all levels of the system (state, regional/local, practitioner, family, and child) that are intended to be achieved by implementing the specified improvement strategy to improve the state's SIMR (long-term outcome). States can use the "assumptions" from their Theory of Action (if sufficiently detailed) to identify their intended outcomes.
    • Intermediate Outcome: Changes in actions or behaviors based on knowledge or skills acquired through outputs.
      • Changes in adult actions or behaviors based on knowledge or skills acquired
      • Fidelity of the intervention
      • Improved organizational functioning
      • Improved infrastructure and system functioning
    • Long-Term Outcome: The results that fulfill the SSIP's goals; the SIMR is the key long-term outcome but some states may have others.
      • Broadest program outcomes
      • Results that fulfill the project's goals
      • Impact on children or families
      • Program scale-up and sustainability
      Example: [SIMR] There will be an increase in the percentage of infants and toddlers exiting early intervention services who demonstrate an increased rate of growth in positive social-emotional development.
    • Short-Term Oucome: Direct results of the activities and their outputs.
      • What participants learn as a result of activities/outputs
      • What awareness, attitudes, or skills participants develop
      Example: EI practitioners have improved understanding of child development including social-emotional development for infants and toddlers.
  • PDSA (Plan, Do, Study, Act): An iterative, four-stage problem-solving model used for improving a process or carrying out change
  • Performance Indicator: The item of information that measures whether intended outcomes are being achieved. For example, an indicator might be: “An increase (direction) in the average score (number) on the Proficiency Test given at the end of training (method of measurement).
    Example: There will be an increase in the percent of providers who can correctly identify age appropriate social-emotional skills after the training.
  • Stakeholder: An individual or group directly or indirectly affected by an initiative or project.
  • Stakeholder Engagement: The use of stakeholders as participants in a collaborative process that guides the planning, implementation, and monitoring of an initiative or project.
  • State Leadership Team: (also called state management or state implementation team) is the group of individuals at the state level who manage the change effort by actively leading and providing the internal supports needed to move the selected innovation or practice through all the stages and steps of implementation.
  • Theory of Action (TOA): The TOA provides a general statement of the rationale for the state's improvement strategies.
  • Terms of Reference: Terms of Reference describe a format for setting guidelines and expectations for team function, scope, and mission. A key part of a Terms of Reference document is to outline the communication protocols for a project.
  • Usable Intervention: A usable intervention needs to be teachable, learnable, doable, and readily assessed in practice if it is to be used effectively to reach all students who could benefit.
  • 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