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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