IDEA Partnership



For 16 years, NASDSE’s IDEA Partnership worked to bring over 50 national organizations together around the issues they shared. The Partnership and the Partners co-created many tools that continuing relevance as we endeavor to implement IDEA successfully in states and districts that are united in the challenge and impacted by differences in beliefs, will, resources and capacity.

These tools are organized into four key areas that correspond to the actions that state leaders must undertake to meet the general supervision requirement of IDEA and influence practice change at the local level. 

Key Behaviors and Action for State Leaders:

  • Listen and engage

  • Explore issues with key constituencies

  • Learn and act with potential partners

  • Build understanding, engagement, and support

Listen and Engage: The Power of Dialogue

Implementing IDEA requires people in different roles to work together. Yet these potential partners differ in their access to information, capacity to implement requirements and influence the decisions that impact them. Most importantly, they hold beliefs that advance or constrain their ability to receive and act on state and local efforts to build capacity. Used as part of an overall general supervision strategy, dialogue creation helps the SEA to understand implementation for the stakeholder perspective and craft strategies and partnerships to address the gaps in translation of research, and policy into practice.

Dialogue Guides are tools to bring people together to appreciate issues, challenges, and opportunities from diverse perspectives. Using Dialogue Guides, stakeholders can interact with each in focused conversation that helps find commonalities and identify actionable activities.

Dialogue Guides

Dialogue Guides support understanding in a particular context such as a school, a district or a community. Yet the real power of dialogue is the systemic application as a statewide strategy in which the implementation structures across divisions, content areas, and regional supports routinely hold dialogue and use the findings to inform decisions. These feedback loops enable the SEA to better understand and address unforeseen impacts and the factors that underlie effective implementation.

Several tools can help you to listen and engage, and NASDSE is available to help you customize your state strategy.

Creating Dialogue

Early in the formation of the IDA Partnership, national organizations saw the importance of listening to understand each other. They co-created a guide to use among the Partners and to promote within their networks. This guide is very relevant today as states move beyond information and training to influence local practice.

PowerPoint: Creating Dialogue
Dialogue Guide Facilitators Handbook

Sample:  Dialogue Guides
              Creating Agreement and Dispute Resolution
              Positive Behavior Support 
              The Human Side of Change

Infographics to Support Dialogue

Infographics are a popular way to build understanding and share complex information simply. Many platforms support the development of infographics.  NASDSE uses the VENNGAGE platform.  Combining Infographics with Dialogue Guides is a powerful way to empower many individuals to support conversation around an issue of importance.  By engaging stakeholders to co-create Infographics, we can expand the expanding potential reach and use through their support and their networks.

Creating Dialogue as a State Strategy
Dialogue is the foundation for better stakeholder engagement. Explore all the tools in this section to help you build interactions and relationships…but start with dialogue! Download the PDF to help you envision how to build a state system that has dialogue as a core strategy.
State System of Stakeholder Learning and Action: Building from Dialogue

Ideas for improving your system through dialogue:
  • Undertake issues in a ‘campaign-type’ approach. 
  • Ensure that support systems at every level are trained in creating dialogue and in communicating findings in a productive way. Assess the comfort level of state staff to lead such efforts.
  • Communicate that the state agency wants to learn why some strategies take hold and others do not.
  • By design and investment, be the conduit for learning across professional organizations, regional supports and local districts to build commitment and leverage networks.
  •  Along with an emphasis on evidence-based strategies and data-based decision-making, convey that stakeholder engagement  is a foundational  strategy
  • Convene stakeholders to learn from each other. If possible, hold at least one in-person meeting of stakeholders that will commit to building a learning partnership.
  •  Don’t let the cross-stakeholder connections end when your convening ends. Begin building a learning community among stakeholders.
  • Hold virtual sharing and problem-solving sessions regularly. Include families and community members to bring a new perspective — and new energy — to the work.
  • Seek out natural collaborators to facilitate the turnaround community. Choose people who can share leadership.
  • Create ways for many people to participate actively to assume leadership roles. Co-lead as a first step.

Explore issues with key constituencies: Co-creating Content in a Collection

Once issues have been identified and the Agency has begun to engaging dialogue with the stakeholders, there is an opportunity to develop some content that is co-created that is easily promoted within existing networks. This strategy permits the SEA to build an ally relationship around the implementation of practices that are jointly supported. This strategy reinforces key messages through networks that have influence with the intended audience and makes it more likely that promotes these networks will feature this content through its communication vehicles. Co-creation builds a relationship. The relationship makes it easier to support practices for which there is agreement and makes it easier to talk about practices for which there is little agreement. 
DEA Partnership Collections are a good example of co-creation that promotes relationship building, improves understanding and advanced use of materials that are stakeholder developed.


Learn and Act Together: Building and Facilitating a Communities of Practice (CoPs)

A Community of Practice (CoP) is quite simply a group of people that agree to interact regularly to solve a persistent problem or improve practice in an area that is important to them.

NASDSE has been supporting change by bringing people together in Communities of Practice since 2002. Our work is most influenced by Etienne Wenger and Beverly Trayner. We have worked closely with them and continue to learn from and with them. Some CoPs are formal...others are less formal. Our CoPs were organized to bring decision-makers, practitioners, and consumers into shared work and learning. We think our CoPs created an infrastructure to achieve strategic advantage and sustainable change by seeking multiple perspectives and engaging multiple partners. The important thing about a CoP is building an infrastructure that will enable you and your partner to work and learn together. The topic or issue unites you, the plan for connecting, communicating and doing real work together sustains you!

Learning to engage people is the first and most important step in building a CoP. Two simple tools can support beginning efforts. You can use these as planning tools to think about who to engage, or use them with your stakeholders and plan together.

Build understanding, engagement, and support: Leading by Convening

In years of bringing people together, the IDEA Partners have focused on both the technical and the human side of change. The work of many researchers has guided us, especially the common sense approach of Heifetz and Linsky. You will find their influence throughout our site. In 2012, over 250 stakeholders from 50 national organizations worked together to operationalized these understandings in a blueprint for authentic engagement: Leading by Convening.
Today, many states and stakeholder organizations use these tools to help them move beyond shallow engagement and engage stakeholders as allies to implement and sustain their work.