Scaling up in education: Balancing fidelity and innovation

Jerome D’Agostino and Emily Rodgers explain why delivering reading interventions with fidelity and infusing change are important complementary processes

UNLIKE MANY LITERACY INTERVENTIONS that come and go, Reading Recovery has been implemented successfully in the United States for more than 20 years. Presently it is experiencing a renaissance, marked by innovation and scale up to new schools, many of which are in deprived areas. Reading Recovery has maintained high levels of success over time and across diverse school contexts because of its research-based design. This design not only requires replication with fidelity to instruction and teacher training, but it also encourages innovation to the same. In this article we will discuss how these seemingly contradictory processes of fidelity and innovation are necessary ingredients to advance evidence-based change in educational practices.

What we know
● Education programs should be tested and retested.
● Improvements can be made when there is an ongoing feedback loop between research and development.
● Maintaining fidelity to and being innovative with a design are not mutually exclusive.

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November 2011