Schools’ readiness for change

The Getting it Right from the Start (GIRFTS) collaboration has published a snapshot with insights on how to measure schools’ readiness for change.

Education systems and schools routinely implement new initiatives to better support children’s health, wellbeing, development, and learning. However, schools often face significant challenges when they introduce new approaches. As a result, new initiatives often aren’t fully embedded in schools and fall short of achieving intended outcomes. One reason for this is that schools may not be ready to make the changes needed to fully adopt a new initiative or program.

Readiness for change is the developmental process by which an organisation increases its capacity and willingness to engage in a new activity.  Better understanding schools’ readiness for change is critical to ensuring the success and sustainability of new evidence-based initiatives.

Readiness for change in education: Implementing new approaches in schools 

The Centre has recently published a snapshot in partnership with the Australian Education Research Organisation that shows how readiness for change varies between schools participating in the Getting it Right from the Start project. This project aims to improve student oral language and reading outcomes using a response to intervention framework in Foundation and Grade 1.

The response to intervention framework provides high-quality evidence-based classroom instruction for all students and more intensive, targeted support for children who need it. A response to intervention framework relies on data-based decision making to drive screening practices, identify children who are struggling, provide support based on student needs and to monitor progress.

A scoping review was conducted focusing on readiness for change instruments that had been used in educational settings, but a fit for purpose instrument was not discovered. Instead, using the constructs and items identified in the review as most likely to influence school staff readiness for change, a measure consisting of 22 items across 10 constructs was designed. The 10 constructs are:

  • Buy-in
  • Peer support
  • Leadership support
  • Perception of need
  • Tolerable stress levels
  • Tolerable workload levels
  • Openness to change
  • Resources
  • Tolerable effort
  • Self-efficacy.

What did the findings show? 

School readiness profiles were established from the data. The readiness for change profiles showed a variation of 11 points between the lowest and highest scoring schools. Authors expect higher scoring schools are more ready for the project than lower scoring schools. Reviewing the constructs scores for each school helps to better understand the barriers to implementation, including how much of a relative barrier it might be.

Lower scores indicate a lower level of readiness to change and potential barriers to implementation. The order of the rank of the constructs also varied between schools, implying that different factors are having impacts of differing magnitudes and their interplay contributes to the overall readiness for change for each school.

There is value in assessing school readiness for change at a school level to take into consideration the unique context of each setting and to ensure each school is set up for success before implementing new initiatives.

View the full snapshot here

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