The Intersection

The Case for Ongoing Professional Learning for State Boards of Education

August 9, 2012


Nearly every state has embarked on the ambitious goal of ensuring that every child is prepared to enter the workforce and college with the knowledge and skills they need to be successful. In 44 states, Washington, D.C., and three territories, state boards of education adopted or recommended adopting the Common Core State Standards or the state’s own college/career standards.[1] Adoption, however, was the easy part; implementation brings its own set of complex issues.

One of these challenges is leadership turnover. Just on state education boards, more than 200 board members have served two years or less on their board, with more changes to come after the November elections. As a result, many policymakers are grappling with their new responsibilities in addition to the educational needs of students in their state. As Common Core implementation unfolds, board members must continually be educated and engaged in the college- and career-ready dialogue because these policymakers play a significant role in the sustainability and alignment of the initiative.

This learning is vital to the Common Core effort because state boards:

  • Set graduation requirements aligned with the goals of the standards;
  • Establish proficiency levels for the assessments, including those developed by PARCC and Smarter Balanced;
  • Set licensure and certification requirements for educators; and
  • Establish systems of professional learning throughout their states.

Consistent professional learning for board members requires continued contact and collaboration with their respective state and local partners, in addition to their peers and education leaders nationwide.

Supporting implementation this way ensures a commonality of purpose and resolve with all stakeholders dedicated to providing the best possible education to our nation’s students.

–Elizabeth Ross is a Senior Project Associate at the National Association of State Boards of Education

[1] Minnesota and Wisconsin do not have a state board of education

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