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How is Common Core implementation faring, four years after these challenging standards were unveiled and embraced? Education Week attempts to answer this with an investigative report covering the key challenges that states and districts face: politics, assessments, teacher preparation, spending, curricula, accommodations, and tests for the severely disabled. Ed Week concludes that the next year will be critical for the success of the standards. The first three topics—political pushback, assessments, and teacher prep—seem especially vital. The growing resistance to the standards has been well publicized. Ed Week reports, however, that the battle lines are constantly changing and the ultimate effect this will have on implementation is necessarily unclear. Equally important is this year’s rollout of new assessments from the two consortia, PARCC and Smarter Balanced. Field-testing is underway, and a number of the compromises they have made—due primarily to time and resource constraints—cause many to wonder how well the final products will compare to the consortia’s initial promises to the Department of Education that funded them. At the same time, the status of teacher preparation is a big question mark, both in terms of ed schools and on-the-job professional development. The former aren’t sure what to do with the Common Core, while on-the-job training is spotty. To be sure, this special report is “data-lite”: like much investigative reporting, the authors focus on a handful of local examples (as did our recent look at district-level implementation). The national picture remains far from clear. And the Common Core remains very much a work in progress.
Education Week, Vision Meets Reality: The Common Core in Action (Washington, D.C.: Education Week, April 21, 2014).