in Your Schools
Many schools are confronted with implementation gaps that reflect a discrepancy between what works to
improve students outcomes and what is actually being implemented for students to receive. These
implementation gaps lead to access gaps and access gaps cause students to not receive the
experiences and support they need.
We specialize in customizing implementation supports to district and school partners to increase internal capacity to achieve successful implementation of effective practices that result in better and more equitable outcomes for students.
We focus on the systems of support the adults in schools need to explore and identify student-facing solutions, prepare them to implement the identified solution, and support them to deliver effective student-facing practices with fidelity.
Our work expands on CharacterStrong’s mission of "making the world a more loving place through education" by supporting school systems with transformational implementation support that results in sustainable implementation of effective practices that enable each student to access the experiences they need to be well, engage fully in the learning experience, and develop competencies that set them up for life success.
Why CIS by CS?
Produce a Return on Investment. Most implementation efforts (90%) will
fail to produce a return on
investment due to common barriers (e.g., silos, lack of clarity, issues with staff buy-in/readiness to
change, implementation overload, etc.). Strategically navigating these common barriers is essential for
the success of any implementation effort so students ultimately receive and benefit from effective
Evidence-based practice requires evidence-based implementation. Identifying and training educators on effective student-facing programs or practices (e.g., SEL curriculum, AVID, culturally responsive teaching strategies, evidence-based literacy curriculum, Tier 2 interventions, etc.) is insufficient to achieve meaningful changes in student outcomes. Ultimately, leaders and staff need to adopt the program or practice, persist with implementing the program or practice to achieve high fidelity, and sustain the program or practice so it will continue to produce positive outcomes for students.
How We Support School Systems
We ground our work in adult behavior change and implementation science. We use a proven implementation process framework that helps a school system locate where they are at in the process and strategize how to accomplish key objectives at each stage of the implementation process to reach sustainable implementation and produce meaningful changes in student outcomes.
Because there is no successful implementation without a dedicated leadership team, we build the capacity of district and site-based shared leadership teams to use knowledge, tools, and methods derived from implementation science.
We also use evidence-based facilitation processes and tools, including the backwards designing of logic models that reflect theories of action, strategy mapping, and gradual release of responsibilities to help school systems at each stage of the implementation process.
Example Implementation Efforts
We Support at
This is designed as a 3-5 year effort. Below, you will see an example of Year 1 supports, with years 2-5
following a similar,
less intense format while continuing to be customized to meet the needs of your system.
- Building District Implementation Infrastructure for any implementation effort (academics, behavior, social & emotional learning, mental health)
- Designing and implementing Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) to integrate a continuum of social, emotional and behavioral supports with academics
- Rebooting Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports due to implementation drift
- Implementation of Tier 2 and 3 Systems of Support, including a menu of evidence-based interventions at each tier
- District Strategic Planning around the Whole Child to address students’ holistic needs
- Adult Social & -Emotional Learning – implementation efforts specifically targeting educator well-being, engagement, retention and performance
Services We Provide
- Multi-year district-wide implementation support (2-3 years) to make successful implementation happen in the service of producing better outcomes for students
- Coaching to district and/or site-based teams to improve capacity to put systems of implementation support in place to drive successful implementation
- Professional learning for leaders and/or leadership teams on implementation science (Implementation 101, Implementation 102, and Implementation 103 training)
- District Strategic Visioning and Planning to Integrate Whole Child Services: A systematic needs assessment to understand where the school system is at and what is needed
- Building Data Literacy and Decision making to monitor and track implementation outcomes to spur continuous improvement
Who We Are
We are a multi-disciplinary group with extensive experience supporting a variety of implementation efforts in school systems across the United States (rural, suburban, urban). We pride ourselves on building trusting relationships and understanding the perspective and needs of educators across all levels of the educational ecosystem.
CIS is led by Dr. Clay
and Megan Gruis, Ed.S.
Dr. Cook is the Chief Development Officer at CharacterStrong and is an implementation scientist, psychologist, and former paraprofessional and middle school math teacher. He has spent the past 15 years working in partnership with school systems across the country to support the implementation of effective practices that promote better and more equitable outcomes for students. He has been a professor and researcher at three universities (Louisiana State University, University of Washington and University of Minnesota) studying topics such as implementation of evidence-based practices, educator well-being and resilience, social-emotional learning, and youth mental health. He has obtained over 20 million dollars in grant funding for his research and published over 100 peer-reviewed scientific articles. For his work, he has been invited to the White House and served on expert panels with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the US Department of Education.
Megan Guis, Ed.S. is the Director of Implementation at CharacterStrong and a former public school educational leader. Megan served in public education for 20 years and feels fortunate to have served in a variety of K-12 settings as a paraprofessional, classroom facilitator, school counselor, administrative dean, interventionist, and leader of various district and site based implementation teams. Throughout these experiences, she found a passion for training, coaching and consulting around the implementation of systems frameworks. She served on the Minnesota State Implementation Team for PBIS in a variety of capacities for 10 years and has consulted with schools and districts across the country on the integrated educational design of social, emotional, and behavioral health programming. As a licensed school counselor and administrator, the work of supporting the development of the whole child by equipping the adults to deliver effective practices is truly her passion.