Year 3 of Implementing the Common Core State Standards: An Overview of States’ Progress and Challenges

With Common Core State Standards (CCSS) on the tip of everybody’s tongue and Common Core–aligned assessments expected to roll out nationally in less than two years, the release of the Center on Education Policy’s most recent implementation update is particularly relevant. First, thirty states (out of forty) reported that Common Core–aligned curricula in both math and ELA are being taught in at least some districts or grade levels. As for full saturation, nine states began implementing CCSS math curriculum throughout their K–12 systems in 2012 or earlier; in ELA, the same is true of twelve states. Second, thirty states report that they are sponsoring specific initiatives to help low-performing schools make the transition to CCSS. Third, a dozen states with cuts or freezes in education spending report eliminating or reducing the scope of CCSS activities due to strained state budgets. For instance, six states have reduced their technology expenditures related to CCSS assessments. Fourth, thirty-seven states are developing and disseminating PD materials and guides; thirty-three report working with higher-ed institutions to align the academic content of their teacher-preparation programs with CCSS. But finally—and most troubling—twenty-six states conveyed that they were finding it difficult to identify and/or develop curriculum materials necessary to implement the Common Core—and thirty-two said the same of developing teacher- and principal-evaluation systems to hold individuals accountable for student mastery of CCSS. Oddly, twenty-seven states also claimed that they have the staff expertise to support state implementation of the CCSS. That rings an alarm bell: Most states are developing and disseminating professional-development materials and guides, but most states are also reporting difficulties in finding adequate curriculum materials. If the professional development precedes the curriculum—which is apparently the case in some states—aren’t we putting the cart before the horse?

SOURCE: Diane Stark Rentner, Year 3 of Implementing the Common Core State Standards: An Overview of States’ Progress and Challenges (Center on Education Policy, August 2013).

Amber M. Northern, Ph.D.
Amber M. Northern, Ph.D. is a Senior Vice President for Research at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute