What is fidelity of implementation?
Page 1: Fidelity of Implementation
Discovering what works does not solve the problem of program effectiveness. Once models and best practices are identified, practitioners are faced with the challenge of implementing programs properly. A poorly implemented program can lead to failure as easily as a poorly designed one.
Educators are expected to implement evidence-based practices and programs (EBPs) to improve the outcomes of the children* or students with whom they work. Having done so, however, they often do not see the results they expected. In many cases, educators then conclude that the practice or program is ineffective and either discontinue its use or switch to another. However, research indicates that one of the most common reasons that educators do not get the results they anticipate is that they have not properly implemented the practice or program. To avoid this problem, and to get better results from the EBPs they select, educators need to understand the importance of implementing them as intended.
The implementation of a practice or program as intended by the researchers or developers is referred to as fidelity of implementation. This is also commonly referred to as treatment integrity, procedural fidelity, intervention integrity, procedural reliability, or procedural adherence. Generally, to implement a practice or program with fidelity, you should:
- Understand how to implement the EBP as intended
- Gather and organize the resources necessary for implementation
- Adhere to the implementation procedures of the practice or program
- Lack of implementation fidelity might result in a practice or program being less effective, less efficient, or producing less-predictable responses.
(Grow et al., 2009; Wilder, Atwell, & Wine, 2006; Noell, Gresham, & Gansle, 2002)
- When programs implemented with fidelity are compared to programs not implemented with fidelity, the difference in effectiveness is profound. Those implemented with fidelity yield average effect sizes that are two to three times higher.
(Durlak & DuPre, 2008)
Note: The first IRIS Module in this series includes information on how to identify and select evidence-based practices. If you have not yet viewed that first resource, we highly encourage you to take a look at it now:
*In this module, “children” refers to infants, toddlers, and preschool children.