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.
March 2019 Open Access Peer Reviewed
- We interviewed and surveyed 48 school leaders implementing a new digital and personalized learning change initiative.
- Readiness for change matters to the success of initiatives.
- More than half of the principals indicated that their schools were not ready for the targeted change, suggesting a low probability of success for this initiative.
- School climate, strong relationships, available resources, and leadership capacity rely and build upon each other to impact the success of change initiatives.
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