How secondary school principals can master the Common Core

  • Become educated on the Common Core State Standards inside and out.
  • Actively participate in all available trainings offered, and apply lessons learned.
  • Use all tools available through your state and district.
  • Build capacity within your school building.
  • Make sure vertical alignment occurs between elementary, middle, and high schools.
  • Use free apps, such as the Common Core Standards app.
  • Provide professional learning opportunities and peer networking.
  • Ensure time is built in for teachers to use and implement the Common Core standards for instruction and assessment.
  • Monitor, monitor, monitor progress.
  • Provide time for teachers to analyze data and make necessary revisions.

In addition to these key steps, Kentucky has created Leadership Network Cohort Trainings, which are modeled on the most current research-based data available on effective professional development. There are eight cohorts in the state, and the program focuses on capacity-building. Teams from school districts attend training and obtain resources, and as a team they put together a plan regarding how they will deliver those materials and that knowledge to their own staff.

The state also recently implemented the Continuous Instructional Improvement Technology System—a program that lets teachers access Common Core standards, programs of study, deconstructed standards, student information, and more.

Principals can perform “learning checks” three or four times a year to ensure that teachers are on target and that students understand the material, Lamb said. Classroom walk-throughs with meaningful, immediate feedback to teachers, as well as honest evaluations of teachers, is key.

“Average isn’t good enough,” said Mel Riddile, associate director for high school services with the National Association of Secondary School Principals and a former high school administrator. “The Common Core, and those of us who have really worked to increase the number of college- and career-ready students, see this as the best opportunity we’ve had in a long time, and with that opportunity comes challenges.”

The Common Core effort is causing a “major shift” in the education conversation, Riddile said, because it will force educators and administrators to measure something different and new.

Laura Ascione

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