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Establishing a framework for delivering early intervening services and for educating and serving all students.





  1. Early Learning
  2. Evidence-Based School and Classroom Practices
  3. Educator Preparation and Professional Learning
  4. Assessment
  5. Accountability
  6. Family and Student Engagement
  7. Special Education Financing

Implementation (current page)




One theme recurs throughout this report: California needs an aligned system of education that establishes a coordinated framework for delivering early intervening services and for educating and serving all students well. The benefits of such a system for students, for their families, and for the state and national economies are proven and certain.


Other states—Maryland, Kansas, and Tennessee, specifically—have created coordinated policy, accountability, and instructional systems that address the entire range of learning needs and that support teachers and administrators in coherent efforts to successfully educate all students. So we know the vision described in this report is possible. We also know that engagement at all levels and coordinated leadership and action are essential to success and include these entities:

  • Office of the Governor
  • California Legislature
  • State Board of Education
  • California Department of Education (CDE)
  • Department of Finance
  • California Commission on Teacher Credentialing
  • Department of Developmental Services
  • Department of Managed Health Care
  • Department of Social Services and Foster Youth
  • Special Education Local Plan Areas (SELPAs)
  • Colleges and universities in the state
  • Boards of education
  • School and district superintendents
  • Teachers and other staff members
  • Parents and parent centers

Each of these must embrace the vision of a unified system if the education that is both necessary and required is to be coordinated and, to the fullest extent possible, integrated to efficiently and effectively serve children and their families.

For decades now we have known what all successful organizations have in common; a shared vision is their first principle.89 Implementation research and adult learning theory have also identified proven features of effective—and manageable—change and list the process for making it happen. The strategies and methods for improving administrator and staff competency include training, coaching, performance assessments, and fidelity measures. Changing the larger organizations and systems requires higher-level implementation strategies, infrastructure development, and the creation of data systems that support decision making and effective and facilitative leadership. Research also tells us that implementation initiatives are most successful when they happen in well-coordinated stages.90


State-Level Change

Currently, state-level departments and divisions do not always model what they want others—districts and schools, administrators and teachers, services providers and parents—to do. To create a united system, they will need to leave behind “siloed” attitudes, ways of thinking, and patterns of work in nearly every aspect of what they do. Together they will need to coordinate policies and procedures, promote collectively advantageous legislation, develop aligned messages that are communicating clearly and efficiently to the field, and design coordinated initiatives that serve to strengthen every entity affected and involved.

Field-Level Change

California currently does not have a robust and wide-reaching regional structure to deliver professional learning and ongoing technical assistance to all teachers and administrators and to ensure that systems are implemented, frameworks applied, and evidence-based practices deployed everywhere with consistency and fidelity. Making the vision outlined in this report a reality will require this very kind of structure.

The proposed effort will also require a persistent and consistent method for sharing plans and visions, communicating information about methods and trainings, and generally ensuring that the initiatives outlined here have behind them a united and committed force of fully engaged general educators, special educators, parents, and school leaders. A robust communication plan must be in place to clearly inform all stakeholders of this vision and to provide the information they need to understand its good sense, its value for children, and its ultimate cost savings to the state, to the country, and to society at large.

All communications about this change must also include a call for patience on the part of everyone, especially those currently being served by the separate special education system. We know that effective and lasting change happens slowly, over time, and with much patience. But we also know that a “down-to-earth, pragmatic, committed-to-excellence process—a framework—” will keep each county, each district, each school, each educator, and each parent “on track for the long haul.”91

The Task Force is certain, however, that its recommendations lay out a blueprint for an effective, evidence-based system of schooling that will serve the needs of all students, but especially those with disabilities. Any movement toward the visions promises benefits in the short term. In the long term, given the strength, creativity, and energy that collectively exist in the people in this state, the proposed system, when fully implemented, could change the world.


At the highest level, state departments and divisions will need to coordinate their efforts to model the kind of collaboration that is needed at every other level for students to be best served. Such state-level efforts will help to create a lasting culture in which early childhood care and education efforts can be coordinated, along with clear articulation with the K–12 system. Districts and schools can then create similarly coordinated systems of evidence-based practices to prepare children for college, career, and adult life. Teacher and administrator preparation programs can promote evidence-based practices and structures and provide continued professional learning that aligns with what preparation programs are teaching and what schools are doing. This culture will demand data sources that are integrated and robust; as a result, accountability will have weight and meaning. Within this culture, assessments are accurate and inclusive. Funding processes are prudent and efficient, and they provide in the most cost-effective way possible the money needed to support all exemplary educational efforts.

In service to implementing this vision, the Task Force recommends the following:

  • State-level commitment to aligning policies, practices, and systems of support across initiatives.
  • Clearly and thoroughly articulated and disseminated statewide standards of practice based on the following:
    • Universal Design for Learning
    • A tiered school and classroom system designed to coordinate and provide support to all students and that is primarily located in general education. This system incorporates a response to intervention approach and addresses both – academics and – social-emotional learning and positive behavioral supports and practices.
  • A system for training current teachers and school administrators on evidence-based practices, including transition strategies, culturally responsive teaching, technology, and youth and family involvement

Additional Information

Tennessee: Response to Instruction and Intervention as a Tool for Determination of Specific Learning Disabilityi

Tennessee began a focus on preparing all students for success after high school through the use of Response to Instruction and Intervention (RtI2) beginning in the spring of 2012. Their framework focuses on integrating not only Common Core State Standards but also their assessments, early intervention, and accountability systems for students at risk of school failure. The state focused on the belief that all students are learners.

An initial impetus to action was the state’s adoption of the federal language in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) 2004 that suggests that states could adopt the use of RtI2 in the determination of a specific learning disability (SLD). While the language was adopted by the state, local educational agencies (LEAs) could opt in or choose not to use a determination model based on RtI2. Since that time the state has taken the following actions:

  • In the spring of 2012, the Common Core Leadership Council acknowledged the need for a statewide RtI2 model for educational consistency and improved instruction.
  • In the fall of 2012, the state released to all school districts a K–2 guideline for best instructional practices in reading and math.
  • In January 2013, an RtI2 task force agreed to the development of a statewide RtI2 plan.
  • In February 2013, a Reading/RtI2 Leadership Team was formed to research and write the RtI2 framework, a school psychologist RtI2 task force was also formed to review and determine interventions and eligibility standards for students suspected of having a SLD.
  • At the same time, the state advisory council for students with disabilities and the state board of education approved the use of an RtI2 problem-solving model for determination of a SLD.
  • As of July 1, 2014, RtI2 was the sole criteria by which a student would be identified as having a SLD in Tennessee.

Subsequently, the state has developed resources for parents, teachers, and administrators that support the use of RtI2, not only for determination of SLD, but also for supporting any student in Tennessee schools struggling or at risk of school failure.

State-level Structure for Change: One Idea

The CDE creates a high-level position, an intra- and interagency liaison, appointing someone to that position who then has the authority to work across the agency’s divisions and with other agencies of the government to implement this vision. That liaison assembles a cross-agency policy team that is charged with mapping out the specific steps needed to shape the vision for a system of education that meets the needs of all students.

This Implementation and Accountability Team includes representatives from the Governor’s office, the State Board of Education, the California Department of Education, the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, the Legislature, the statewide Departments of Developmental Services, Health, Social Services, Health and Managed Care, and Department of Finance. The State Board of Education assigns a facilitator for this team who then convenes working groups, each of which takes a set of recommendations from this report and maps out a specific implementation plan, from specific short-term steps to long-term goals.

This group reports regularly on its progress to the Governor, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, the State Board of Education, the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, the Legislature, and any additional relevant agencies.

District- and School-level Structure for Change: One Idea

In too many instances, classroom teachers or site principals often find themselves alone after a professional learning event, trying to figure out how to incorporate an important but complicated new practice. This approach is most often ineffective and inefficient, especially when evidence-based practices or innovation is needed system-wide. Coaching teams alter this forecast. These teams use implementation practice and science to support administrators and teachers in their efforts to incorporate a new strategy or approach into their practice. These teams provide the support and create a context for accountability. Research indicates that, without coaching teams, programs can expect only 14 percent implementation.j With coaching teams in place, programs can achieve 80 percent implementation. Additional researchk further substantiates the value of these coaching teams. “Students [including adult learners] cannot benefit from instructional practices that they do not experience.”l

Implementation Centers: One Idea

Eleven Regionalized Implementation Centers are created to support the use of and scaling up of evidence-based practices throughout the state. Regional Implementation Centers provide technical assistance, professional learning opportunities, and services in evidence-based school and district restructuring systems and in classroom practice.

Successfully Implementing Statewide Change

Successful and replicable models exist for creating educational change statewide. The State Implementation and Scaling-up of Evidence-based Practices (SISEP) center at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute supports education systems in creating implementation capacity for evidence-based practices that benefit all students, especially students with disabilities.m The SISEP Center provides states and districts with:

  • Intensive technical assistance for establishing an effective and affordable infrastructure for implementation of education innovations.
  • Coordinated and shared professional learning via webinars and communities of practice bridging States and Districts.
  • Online and offline coaching, teaching and learning about implementation, scaling, and reinvention.
  • Tools and resources for conducting work, including formative and summative evaluation tools for action planning, monitoring, and outcome assessment.


  1. Senge, P. (Fall 1990). The leader's new work: Building learning organizations. External link opens in new window or tab. Sloan Management Review, pp. 7–23.
  2. Fixsen, D., Naoom, S., Blasé, K., Friedan, R., & Wallace, F. (2012). Implementation research. External link opens in new window or tab.
  3. Collins, J. (October 2001). Good to great. External link opens in new window or tab.
  1. Tennessee Department of Education. (August 2013). RTI2 Framework 2013: Response to Instruction and Intervention Framework Implementation Guide. External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF; 10 MB)
  2. Balas, E. A., & Boren, S. A. (2000). Managing clinical knowledge for health care improvement. In J. Bemmel & A. T. McCray (Eds.), Yearbook of Medical Informatics 2000: Patient-Centered Systems (pp. 65–70). Stuttgart, Germany: Schattauer Verlagsgesellschaft.
  3. Coffey, J. H., & Horner, R. H. (2012). The sustainability of schoolwide positive behavior interventions and supports. Exceptional Children, 78(4), 407–422.
  4. National Implementation Research Network. (2013). Module 1: An overview of active implementation Frameworks. External link opens in new window or tab.
  5. State Implementation & Scaling-up of Evidence-based Practices Center. External link opens in new window or tab. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Questions:   Special Education Division | | 916-445-4613
Last Reviewed: Monday, May 8, 2023
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