Step 3: Identify School Districts for Potential Sex Education Implementation
With a clear sense of what’s possible (the policies and regulations governing sex education) and an understanding of current sex education funding streams and programs, it is time to reach out to school districts. Many school districts are willing and ready to work on sex education – they just need help to tip the balance from their current state to effective and sustainable sex education. That means the focus of this step should be finding ready and willing school districts that are eager for sex education implementation assistance. This work falls into two stages: 1) identifying school districts; and 2) exploring the likelihood of success. At the end of this step the goal is to have a limited pool of promising school districts that are worth investing time to conduct a sex education readiness assessment.
Conduct a preliminary assessment of school district readiness.
While the next phase of the WISE method includes an in-depth readiness assessment, some sites have found a light-touch preliminary assessment valuable to provide an early gauge of whether or not a school district shows promise. The preliminary assessment can include questions to ascertain the level of school district administration buy-in, frequency and quality of communication and identified community champions to get a snapshot of the current readiness and supports that are likely to be needed for a successful engagement.
Look out for warning signs that a school district may not be ready or have the capacity to dedicate time and support to sex education. The current educational change climate is crowded with competing priorities. School districts may be over-committed and unable to attend to sex education institutionalization work. Further, if key leadership roles are newly filled (e.g., a first-year superintendent) it is unlikely that there will be sufficient leadership capacity within the district to effectively move sex education institutionalization forward. Therefore, it is important to assess the likelihood of school district leadership to earnestly move the sex education work forward. Similarly, if there are early warning signs of staunch opponents or fear of controversy, it is important to understand how those may impede the work.