Improving Systems, Practices and Outcomes

Communicating the Plan

There are many times throughout the development of an improvement plan when state staff should consider processes for effective communication. Such processes help to ensure that those developing and implementing the improvement and evaluation plans and those impacted by the plans can communicate easily. Appropriate and timely communication also allows for refinements to the plan throughout development and implementation, ultimately ensuring the success and sustainability of the activities.

This section outlines steps, purposes, and resources in two subsections:

The "plan" referenced throughout includes both the improvement plan and the evaluation plan components of the overall SSIP.

Key considerations for communication activities:

  • Do activities reflect communication in all directions (i.e., activities supporting communication from multiple stakeholders to the state and vice versa)?
  • Has sufficient time been allocated to request, gather, synthesize, and use input for each activity?

Click the steps below to display their purposes and resources in more detail.

Developing Communication Activities


  • Establish a transparent communication process.
  • Provide clear expectations and responsibilities for team members.
  • Establish how the team communicates internally, with external stakeholders, and with the broader public.
  • Document how communication is facilitated and how frequently it should occur.


  • Build upon existing resources.


  • Existing state communications and online support.


  • Provide opportunities for feedback from groups that haven’t been represented on SSIP work teams.
  • Ensure stakeholders are responsible for communicating progress and gathering feedback from the groups they represent (or other groups as assigned).
  • Integrate feedback into plans prior to submitting to OSEP.

Communicating Completed Plans

When thinking about communicating the completed Phase II SSIP document, strategies must go beyond dissemination. Communication should incorporate continual feedback loops that include sharing and receiving information.

The following steps describe the milestones of communicating completed improvement and evaluation plans. These steps, purposes, and resources for communicating completed plans support meaningful interaction with stakeholders and the development of a high-quality Phase II SSIP.


  • Become aware of the types and levels of strategies that are used.
  • Build upon existing resources.
  • Identify any biases in communication strategies.


  • Use a consistent message about what the SSIP is, how the state is planning to roll it out and the role of stakeholders and the public.
  • Include core features, components and expected outcomes of any new practices or systems to be implemented.


  • Intentionally select communication channels (e.g. print, online, presentations) in order to reach targeted stakeholders and public audiences.


  • Provide opportunities for stakeholder groups and public audiences to interact with and respond to the plans (e.g., encourage stakeholders and champions to engage the groups they represent).
  • Ensure that the feedback that is being submitted is intentionally considered and integrated.
  • Create a process where stakeholders who have provided input can see that their input was considered and, if appropriate, how it was used.
  • IDEAs that Work: Office of Special Education Programs, U.S. Department of Education

The ECTA Center is a program of the FPG Child Development Institute of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, funded through cooperative agreement number H326P170001 from the Office of Special Education Programs, U.S. Department of Education. Opinions expressed herein do not necessarily represent the Department of Education's position or policy.

Project Officer: Julia Martin Eile     © 2012-2019 ECTA Center

  • UNC Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute