EMSTACElementary and Middle School Technical Assistance Center (American Institute for Research; Washington, DC)
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During each site visit, EMSTAC staff met with the district's linking agent and participating classroom teachers to discuss how the selected practice was being implemented, any barriers to implementing the practice, and strategies used to overcome the barriers encountered.
Data collection was discontinued in May of 2002 because the EMSTAC contract ended prior to the spring of 2003.
The scale was developed to measure the degree to which EMSTAC linking agents engaged in specific activities to facilitate the adoption of scientifically based practices within their districts.
However, in practice, each EMSTAC district concentrated on at most two practices in one year.
Ronald Havelock, an independent EMSTAC consultant who previously had collaborated on school change research with Matthew Miles and Michael Huberman (see, e.g., Havelock & Huberman, 1978), redesigned and adapted the general school change model for use by EMSTAC, reviewed the scale, and confirmed the validity of its content.
The ratings for each question on the scale reflect information collected about each EMSTAC district each year.
Analysis of the qualitative data indicates that each of the 32 districts across the three strategy cohorts had identified an area of need for school improvement, selected a new practice to address that need, and began to implement the practice by the end of their first year of receiving EMSTAC TA support.
This represents an almost 40% increase in LA Implementation Scale mean scores for Strategy I districts from the beginning to the end of their EMSTAC participation (t = 4.46, p < 0.01).
The relationship between LA Implementation Scale scores and factors pertaining to EMSTAC's support for the district as well as other factors that were district specific also were examined.
Two EMSTAC support factors significantly correlate with the LA Implementation Scale scores.
Also examined was whether the district had identified the need for the new intervention prior to its involvement with EMSTAC. Other studies (e.g., Fullan, 2001) have shown this factor to be a predictor of readiness for schools to implement a new innovation.
Consistent with other research (e.g., Leithwood et al., 1999), when district administrators were at least moderately involved in the EMSTAC initiative, providing periodic input and making decisions that supported the goals of the project, then implementation of linking agent activities was enhanced.