Preparing for Change: A National Perspective on Common Core State Standards Implementation Planning
Last week, Education First and the EPE Research Center released a report entitled Preparing for Change. It’s the first of three that will look at whether states have developed Common Core implementation plans that address three key challenges:
- Developing a plan for teacher professional development,
- planning to align/revamp state-created curricular and instructional materials, and
- making changes to teacher evaluation systems.
Many CCSS supporters cheered at the main finding, which indicated that all but one state—Wyoming—“reported having developed some type of formal implementation plan for transitioning to the new, common standards.” There is cause for excitement—this is a clear indication that states are taking CCSS implementation seriously and that they are working to reorient their education systems to the new standards.
That said, while developing implementation plans is an essential step, it’s far more critical to ensure that those plans are worth following—that they properly identify the gaps in teacher knowledge and skills so they can target state-led PD efforts, for example, and that they prioritize the essential components of the CCSS in state-created curricula and instructional materials. This report doesn’t get into these questions of quality—though Education First and EPE will release two follow-up reports in the coming months that, they promise, will address the quality of the state plans.
As I wrote a few weeks ago, there is reason to be nervous that states may be spending a tremendous amount of time and energy developing and implementing plans that might not address the essential changes that the CCSS demand.
Let’s hope that the follow-up reports—in particular the rubric that will be used to judge the quality of statewide implementation plans—look critically at where standards implementation has fallen short in the past and help identify what must be done differently this time in order to avoid those mistakes. This is our chance not just to raise the expectations for all students, but also to rethink the way to approach state standards implementation.
Education First and the EPE Research Center, “Preparing for Change: A National Perspective on Common Core State Standards Implementation Planning” (Seattle, WA: Education First; Bethesda, MD: EPE Research Center, January 2012).
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