In the late winter/early spring of this year, the Center on Education Policy (CEP) at the George Washington University surveyed state education agency (SEA) officials in the 45 states and DC that have adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in math and/or English language arts (ELA). Forty of these CCSS-adopting states participated in the CEP survey, which covered a wide range of issues, including general implementation efforts, opposition to the CCSS, activities to prepare for CCSS-aligned assessments, and the challenges that states face. Altogether, CEP issued six reports based on the survey data. Here are the ten big takeaways from this extensive research:
- SEA officials believe that the CCSS are more rigorous than their previous math and ELA standards and will lead to improved student learning.
- Nearly all the states in our survey do not believe that the decision to adopt the CCSS will be reversed, limited, or changed in 2013-14.
- SEAs are carrying out many activities to prepare for the CCSS, including convening statewide meetings, developing implementation plans, and providing technical assistance to school districts. And most survey states have collaborated with other states on efforts to implement the Common Core.
- States, districts, and institutions of higher education are providing CCSS-related professional development services for teachers, but only ten states report that 75% or more of their math and ELA teachers had participated in some CCSS professional development as of school year 2012-13.
- Even though less than fulsome numbers of math and ELA teachers have participated in CCSS-related professional development, the teaching of CCSS-aligned curricula has already begun in 30 states. Nine more states will begin teaching such curricula this school year.
- States are also beginning to assess student mastery of the Common Core, with 27 states embedding CCSS items in current state tests or removing non-aligned items.
- States are addressing potential lower pass-rates on CCSS-aligned assessments. About half of the survey states are working with districts on plans for extra help or remediation services for students who need it. Also, 33 states are planning to conduct public relations efforts to educate parents and other stakeholders about why student performance on the tests may be lower than on previous state exams.
- Most of the survey states that belong to one of the two state testing consortia believe that those exams will do a better job of measuring higher order thinking and performance skills and will drive instruction in positive ways.
- A majority of the survey states report that they are working in partnership with institutions of higher education to implement the Common Core, but SEAs also report challenges with these relationships.
- SEAs are having difficulties with certain aspects of CCSS implementation, including providing CCSS-related professional development in sufficient quantity and quality and having adequate resources to support all CCSS activities. Also, while most SEAs report having adequate expertise on their staff to implement the CCSS, fewer report having adequate numbers of staff and/or fiscal resources.
More information on CEP’s research can be found at www.cep-dc.org.
For more information on The George Washington University, visit gsehd.gwu.edu/programs.