Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Common Core State Standards in 2014: Districts’ Perceptions, Progress, and Challenges

Today, the Center on Education Policy at the George Washington University released the first of three reports based on a nationally representative sample of school districts located in Common Core-adopting states.   

The report, Common Core State Standards in 2014:  Districts’ Perceptions, Progress, and Challenges, addresses district leaders’ views on the rigor of the CCSS and their impact on learning and instruction, progress on and challenges in implementing the standards, outreach efforts to inform various stakeholders about the CCSS, district collaboration with other entities on various implementation activities, and the types and helpfulness of CCSS-related assistance from the state education agency.  

Forthcoming reports will delve more deeply into districts’ preparation for Common Core-aligned assessments, as well as efforts to obtain CCSS-aligned curricula and to prepare teachers and principals for the new standards.

Key Findings:


Key findings
  • About 90% of school district leaders in adopting states agree that the Common Core standards are more rigor- ous than their state’s previous math and ELA standards and will lead to improved student skills. The propor- tions of district leaders concurring with these views have increased substantially since 2011.
  • More than 80% of district leaders agree that implementing the CCSS will require new or substantially revised curriculum materials and new instructional practices. The percentages of leaders who subscribe to these views have increased since 2011.

Key finding
• In more than half of the districts in CCSS-adopting states, leaders do not expect their district to complete impor- tant milestones of CCSS implementation—such as adequately preparing teachers to teach the Common Core and implementing CCSS-aligned curricula—until school year 2014-15 or later.

Key findings
  • The vast majority of districts are facing major or minor challenges in implementing the Common Core. These include providing professional development, securing CCSS-aligned curricula, preparing for CCSS-aligned assess- ments, and finding enough resources to support all of the activities associated with implementing the CCSS.
  • Nearly 90% of district leaders cite challenges with having enough time to implement the CCSS before conse- quences related to student performance on CCSS-aligned assessments take effect.

Key findings
  • In 2014, 34% of district leaders reported that overcoming resistance to the CCSS from outside the educational system was a major challenge, and 39% viewed this as a minor challenge. In addition, 25% of leaders saw resist- ance to the CCSS from within the system as a major challenge, and 49% as a minor challenge. Higher per- centages of leaders reported major challenges due to resistance to the CCSS in 2014 than in 2011.
  • A large majority of districts in CCSS-adopting states have conducted outreach activities to explain to stake- holders how the CCSS are more rigorous than previous state math and ELA standards (84% of districts) and why student performance on CCSS-aligned assessments may be lower than on previous state tests (76%).
  • Greater proportions of districts targeted outreach to principals and teachers and to parents and students than to other audiences, such as community members or business leaders.

Key findings
  • The majority of districts in CCSS-adopting states have received assistance from their SEA on one or more aspects of implementation, such as teacher or principal professional development or informational meetings about the Common Core.
  • Of the districts that reported receiving assistance from the SEA, about one-third found these services to be very helpful, and about two-thirds found them somewhat helpful. A very small proportion of districts—3% to 8%, depending on the service—did not find the SEA assistance helpful.

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