Schools working to implement Common Core standards

District officials said they are concerned about the adequacy of funding to implement the common standards.

More than half of school district officials in states that have adopted the Common Core State Standards said they agree that the new math and English/language arts standards are more rigorous than the ones they are replacing, according to a new study by the Center on Education Policy (CEP).

The report, Common Core Standards: Progress and Challenges in School Districts’ Implementation, reveals district leaders’ views about the impact of the Common Core standards and their progress and challenges in implementing the standards. It also found that the standards are moving closer to implementation in the districts that have adopted them.

School district officials said that parents, community members, and local educators appear to show relatively little resistance to the standards, and only 10 percent of districts in the adopting states consider resistance from teachers and principals to be a challenge in implementing the standards.

“Advocates have been concerned  about the extent to which the common standards would be embraced locally, so it’s good news that most district officials have positive views about the standards’ rigor and learning potential, and that they anticipate little community and educator resistance,” said Diane Stark Rentner, CEP’s director of national programs and a co-author of the study.

To date, 45 states and the District of Columbia have adopted the Common Core State Standards, which were released in June 2010 by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers.

Here’s how districts are taking actions to implement the Common Core standards, according to the report:

  • 66 percent of the districts in the adopting states have begun to develop a comprehensive plan and timeline for implementing the standards or intend to do so this school year.
  • 61 percent are developing and/or purchasing curriculum materials aligned to the standards or plan to do so this school year.
  • 48 percent are providing or plan to provide standards-related professional development to math and English language arts teachers.

Less than one-third of the districts are undertaking other activities related to implementing the standards, such as aligning teacher evaluation or induction programs or assigning resource teachers to help teachers integrate the standards into their instruction.

“While many districts are taking steps to implement the standards, some may be waiting for additional state guidance and support before tackling the more complex steps, such as developing local assessments or revising teacher evaluation systems,” said Nancy Kober, a CEP consultant and co-author of the study.

District officials are concerned about the adequacy of funding to implement the Common Core standards and what they see as a lack of clarity in state guidance, the study noted. About three-quarters of districts saw adequate funding to implement all aspects of the standards as a major challenge, and another 21 percent viewed this as a minor challenge.

About two-thirds of the districts cited inadequate or unclear state guidance on such issues as modifying teacher evaluation systems to conform to the standards and aligning local assessments with the standards as major challenges.

“The Common Core State Standards are one of the most hopeful developments in education,” said Jack Jennings, CEP president and CEO. “This survey confirms that the standards will lead to more rigor in education, and that there’s momentum at the district level for implementing them.”

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