States competing for federal Race to the Top money may have been pushed by the Obama administration to sign on to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) Initiative, but more of those that did based their decision on the standards’ promise of increased academic rigor than on gaining an edge in RTTT competition.
That’s one finding of a report released Thursday by the Center on Education Policy, which surveyed state deputy superintendents or their designees in 42 states and the District of Columbia. So far, 41 states have adopted the standards in mathematics and language arts, which were released last year as part of an effort by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers to better prepare high school graduates for college and the workplace.
Thirty-six states said the rigor of CCSS was “very important or important” in their decision to adopt the standards and that the standards “could serve as a foundation for statewide education improvement.” Thirty percent said the possible effect on the state’s success in RTTT was a very important or important factor.
The survey also found that many states will not be able to fully implement the standards until at least 2013. For example, of the 31 states that will require (rather than simply encourage) districts to implement the CCSS, just seven expect this measure to be implemented by 2012. The rest say it won’t happen until 2013 or later.
Jack Jennings, CEO of the Center for Education Policy, said adoption of the standards is just one part of a long and complex process.
“Common standards are the first step,” Jennings said. “Common assessments are the second step. This is just the front end of re-envisioning education” before the critical implementation stage.
Two state consortiums are developing assessment systems to align with the core standards: the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium. While it is not yet clear which elements of either consortium’s work will be included in the final document, leaders of both consortiums agree on one thing: with a deadline of 2014, there is much work to be done in a relatively short amount of time.
One district that is not waiting for the federal assessments to be finalized is the Boone County Schools in Florence, Ky. The Bluegrass State was the first to formally approve the common core standards, and Boone County is one of the first districts in the nation to design resources for teachers that will specifically explain how the standards will be applied and assessed at each grade level. The effort is district wide for this school system of 20,000 students, with teachers, principals and staff participating from each of its 23 campuses
“You can’t just give teachers a set of standards and expect them to teach them every day” without providing more specific curricular support, said Karen Cheser, the district’s assistant superintendent for Learning Support Services.
NSBA’s National Affiliate program will offer a webinar on how districts can prepare for the common core standards that will feature staff from the Center for Public Education and advocacy department. The event will take place Jan. 19 from noon to 1 p.m. EST and is free to all National Affiliates and state school boards associations. For more information or to register, go to Web Channel NA.