A new report from the Center on Education Policy (CEP) has found states that have signed onto common core state standards in English language arts and math are moving forward with little resistance, though full implementation is several years away for most of them.
Most states plan major changes to assessments, curriculum materials, professional development and teacher evaluation as part of the new standards. Many of these changes, however, are years away. For example, 23 of the 31 states that plan to require school districts to implement the common core standards do not expect to fully institute the requirements until 2013 or later.
The report, "States' Progress and Challenges in Implementing Common Core Standards," is based on a confidential survey of state deputy education secretaries. Forty-two states and the District of Columbia responded to the survey between October and November 2010. The goal of the survey was to learn more about state progress toward adopting and implementing the voluntary K-12 common core state learning standards.
At the time of the survey, 32 states had adopted the standards; four had provisionally adopted the standards, which means that further action is necessary, such as legislative approval; one state decided not to adopt them; and five of the six undecided expected to reach a decision this year while the other was unsure when a decision would be reached.
Officials in 36 states said that the rigor of the common core state standards and whether they would serve as a foundation for statewide education improvement were very important or important considerations in their decision to adopt the standards. By contrast, 30 states said they decided, in part, to adopt core standards because they felt it would improve their chances of winning federal Race to the Top funding. (States could cite multiple reasons for adopting the standards.)
Many states said it will take until 2013 or later to fully implement the more complex challenges associated with the common core standards. Most states expect to make changes in professional development by 2012 or sooner, but it will take until 2013 or later to fully implement major changes in assessment, curriculum, and teacher evaluation and certification. Of the 27 states that plan to change student assessments by 2013 or later, six gave 2015 as the timeline.
The survey found that states lack solid plans to coordinate with higher education on linking college admissions requirements or curriculum to the common standards. Just seven states plan to align first-year undergraduate core curriculum with the standards while 26 states did not know if this change would be implemented, and three said it would not. Twenty-four states did not know if undergraduate admissions requirements would be aligned to the standards, while eight said they would, and four said they would not.
Many challenges remain for states implementing the common standards. Twenty-one states said that developing a teacher evaluation system that holds teachers accountable for the standards is a major challenge, and 19 states said that finding adequate funding was a major challenge. A total of 21 states expected to face a major or minor challenge aligning teacher preparation programs with the standards.
Although most adopting states will require school districts to implement the common core state standards, the majority are not requiring districts to change curriculum and teacher programs to support the requirement. The district activities that are being required by the greatest numbers of states include providing professional development to support the standards (13 states), implementing evaluation systems to hold educators accountable for students' mastery of the standards (11 states), and developing new curriculum or instructional practices aligned with the common standards (10 states).
The full report is available online at www.cep-dc.org.
Source: The Center on Education Policy, www.cep-dc.org