Issue Communications

Explaining Higher Standards in 3 Minutes

With the Council of the Great City Schools


01 / Background

Today, only one-third of all students nationwide graduate high school prepared for success. The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) were developed to provide clear and consistent learning goals in English language arts/literacy and mathematics to help prepare all young people for college and careers—no matter their income level or zip code. In 2012, GMMB partnered with the Council of the Great City Schools to inform educators and parents in large, urban school districts about these standards.

2012 - 2013
Creative Content / Digital / Public Relations

02 / Strategy

Research shows that once parents, educators, and other stakeholders understand how the new state standards benefit students, they are far more likely to support them in their own schools and communities. Armed with these findings, GMMB developed a strategy based on informing and explaining. At the heart of our effort was a pair of three-minute videos, one in English and one in Spanish, outlining the new state standards and the value of having consistent standards to audiences who were unfamiliar with the issue. Additionally, GMMB developed 30-second radio and television PSAs in English and Spanish—placing them on local stations in the Council’s member districts—and conducted a Spanish-language radio tour with local and national spokespeople to target Spanish-speaking audiences.


03 / Work

GMMB produced two core videos to provide an explanation of what the new state standards are, how they work, and how they will help students achieve at high levels and be prepared for graduation and beyond. Using a creative technique known as visual-scribing, GMMB was able to synthesize a complex, dense topic and turn it into an engaging, easy-to-understand resource that resonates with parents and could be easily shared via social media. GMMB also produced a pair of 45-minute training videos that served as the foundation for professional development sessions for teachers in the Council’s 67 member school districts and the development of detailed parent guides with information about what students will learn at each grade level. All of these materials and more are offered for free by the Council and are housed on a central hub website, CommonCoreWorks.org.


04 / Results

The efforts of GMMB and the Council of the Great City Schools have helped make the transition to the Common Core smoother in urban school districts across the country. Since they were distributed, the 30-second long “Staircase” PSAs have been aired 30,543 times across markets and garnered over 238 million audience impressions.

The work was so successful that in 2014, the Council engaged GMMB to develop a sequel to the original “Staircase” video. The 2015 video was similarly targeted to parents in urban school districts and explained how the standards work in concert with assessments to help prepare more students for success in college and career. Thirty-second PSAs of the 2015 video were also created in English and Spanish, and through October 2015 they have been aired more than 16,700 times and garnered over 150 million audience impressions. Since this work began in 2012, awareness for the standards among parents and teachers has increased while progress in student performance continues.