Creating Cultural Change in Education: Implementation Science and Human Capital Theory
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Restorative practices has received national recognition for its positive impact on school climate and culture when addressing student and staff conflict. Research has led to questions about producing consistent results and the sustainability of restorative programs. Using a decade of experience implementing restorative practices into K–12 through the Whole-School Change Program of the IIRP Graduate School, the author will argue that two additional resources should be used to improve results: implementation science to ensure that the program is enacted with fidelity, and a human capital framework to maximize resources and provide sustainability. He will show how their use will result in co-created strategic plans, additional identified resources, data monitoring, and evaluation. He suggests that implementation science and human capital theory can help transform the experience of introducing a new program from something that is reactive to proactive. Instead of situations where front line staff, teachers, and counselors bear the direct burden for the effort and are expected to deliver results with few resources and limited support, they will be engaged as collaborators from the preparation phase and supported as partners throughout the process. The results for students could be transformative rather than transactional, offering them opportunities for meaningful engagement and belonging within a school system.