Narrowing the gap between research, policy and practice: the challenge of implementation
In the health sector, research suggests it takes about 17 years to close the gap between what we ‘know’ and what we ‘do’. If that holds true for education, that’s a long time for children and young people to not have access to the best teaching and learning practices we know about today.
An effective education evidence body, such as AERO, can significantly shorten this time lag by filling critical knowledge gaps, translating evidence into accessible formats, and supporting educators and policymakers to implement evidence well. It is this last component that will ultimately enable AERO to achieve our vision of improving excellent and equitable outcomes for all children and young people.
But how does AERO as a national agency support the effective implementation of evidence, particularly at scale?
Firstly, we need to understand our unique context and the factors that affect our approaches to supporting implementation. Secondly, we want to build on the valuable lessons of other global evidence intermediaries by using the Centre for Evidence and Implementation (CEI) review into previous major, system-level efforts to cultivate evidence-based practice. Thirdly, we recognise the value in not only using the successes and failures of other evidence intermediaries, but also the need to work with our stakeholders to trial and adapt implementation strategies that are tailored to local Australian contexts.
Practitioners, educators, leaders and policymakers need support to implement evidence well. However, there is limited Australian evidence on the best approaches to implementation, particularly across a large number of schools or early childhood education and care settings.
Drawing on the literature from implementation science, professional learning, evidence use and behaviour change, we know that efforts to change policy and practice require targeted resources, time and scaffolding. But as a national agency we recognise the challenge of being able to provide direct support on a large scale across Australia.
After much consultation and deliberation, we see AERO playing a number of important roles to enable the effective implementation of evidence in policy and practice.
- AERO will rigorously investigate the best implementation approaches for using evidence and evidence-based practices in policy and practice settings, and publish these findings for policymakers and practitioners to learn from and integrate.
- AERO will synthesise and translate high-quality evidence into relevant and accessible formats, including resources and tools to support the implementation of evidence.
- AERO will extend the work on some of our research projects, and partner with a small number of schools and early childhood education and care services, to directly support and learn about effective approaches to implementation on the ground, where it matters most.
- AERO will use the evidence from our research into implementation in schools and early childhood education and care settings, to provide advice and guidance to education systems and sectors on large-scale implementation and change.
Through these activities, and learning and adapting over time, AERO aims to effectively address the evidence implementation challenge. However, the most critical part is working alongside teachers, educators, leaders and policymakers as the implementers of evidence.
Are you up for the challenge? We are.
The Centre for Evidence and Implementation (CEI) worked with the Australian Education Research Organisation (AERO) to examine "what works" for evidence intermediaries and the barriers and enablers to implementing evidence in education.