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Studies Follow Four Districts Moving Toward Common Core

"Common Core in the Districts: An Early Look at Implementers"

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A new cluster of reports profiles the work of four school districts that jumped into the new standards earlier and more aggressively than most.

The collective portrait that emerges from the work of those districts maps the long, slow climb to the peak of putting the common core into practice in ways that drive positive change. On the flip side, the stories offer a stark picture of the many ways to take shortcuts around the base of that peak—and the many ways to slip backwards on the climb up.

Katie Cristol and Brinton S. Ramsey, consultants at Education First, a Seattle consulting group, wrote the reports for the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a Washington think tank that supports the Common Core State Standards.

The authors chose four districts to illustrate different demographics and dynamics, and assigned each a nickname: Kentucky's "trailblazer" Kenton County; Nevada's "creative" Washoe County in Reno; Nashville, Tenn., the "urban bellwether;" and Illinois' District 54 in Schaumburg, the "high-performing suburb." They focused on five areas: communications and engagement, leadership, curricular materials, professional development, and assessment and accountability.

Among its conclusions, the study finds that:

• The field hasn't produced enough good instructional materials that reflect the new standards, so educators are struggling to create their own;

• Professional development for the standards is too often quick and shallow; and

• Educators are caught in a tough spot as their students approach tests that aren't aligned to what they're being taught.

Vol. 33, Issue 23, Page 5

Published in Print: March 5, 2014, as Studies Follow Four Districts Moving Toward Common Core
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