The Role of Strategic Communications in the Transition to New Academic Standards and Assessments: Case Studies of Tennessee and Kentucky

This case study examines how the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the state of Tennessee managed communications in the transition to more rigorous standards. The authors present eight important lessons including: proactive communication; coordinated communication; educator engagement; simple messages; engaging partners; planning for the inevitable; tying education reform to improved outcomes for students and state economic growth; and meeting with stakeholders and listening. 

From the publisher: "Just like any change, this [transition] has been hard—attended with implementation struggles, educator adjustments, and political wrangling. The two states considered here—Tennessee and Kentucky—are by no means immune to these challenges, neither in the recent past nor into the present; but their histories provide insight into what a well-organized communication and change management process has entailed in states with a clear vision and strong political leadership. The lessons from Tennessee and Kentucky can be instructive for other state leaders and policymakers as they too try to ensure all students are prepared for college and career." 

Content Comments 

The purposes of this resource are effectively described by its title and on an opening page. Using quality methodology and an unbiased approach, the authors present and illustrate eight important communications lessons from two early Common Core–adopting states. These lessons should be helpful not only to other state accountability policymakers, but for nearly any policymaker involved in educational reform. Communications quality is excellent: the authors avoid jargon, use short sentences, and compile their lessons into a concise publication. The design is effective as well. Although many states are well along on their way to implementing new state standards, the communications lessons learned in Kentucky and Tennessee should be useful for years to come. Evidence of effectiveness is not described, but based on this publication's overall quality, a positive impact on learning is likely.