Are you ready for this? Preparing for school change by assessing readiness

By Katherine May McKnight, Elizabeth Jane Glennie

Schools routinely face federal and state mandated changes, like the Common Core State Standards or standardized testing requirements. Sometimes districts and schools want to take on new policies and practices of their own, like anti-bullying programs or using technology to deliver instruction. Regardless of the origin of the change, implementation requires them to take on additional work; yet experts estimate that only 30 to 50 percent of major change efforts in organizations will succeed. Failing change efforts result in not only financial losses but also lowered organizational morale, wasted resources, and lost opportunities. For schools where resources are already stretched thin, the consequences of failed change initiatives can be particularly devastating. In this paper, we discuss results of a study, over a school year, of school principals who were working on implementing a new change initiative in their schools. We apply lessons from the change management literature and focus on the importance of assessing readiness for change as a key step in ensuring the success of new initiatives. We share examples of a change readiness rubric to help schools and districts successfully lead change.


McKnight, K. M., & Glennie, E. J. (2019). Are you ready for this? Preparing for school change by assessing readiness. (RTI Press Publication No. PB-0020-1903). Research Triangle Park, NC: RTI Press.

© 2019 RTI International. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.


Katherine May McKnightKatherine McKnight, PhD, is senior research scientist in Education and Workforce Development at RTI International.

Elizabeth Jane GlennieElizabeth Glennie, PhD, is a senior research education analyst in Education and Workforce Development at RTI International.

Contact RTI Press

To contact an author, request an exam or review copy, or seek permission to use copyrighted content, contact our editorial team.