Principals: A Forgotten Link in the Common Core?

By Catherine Gewertz — June 20, 2011 1 min read
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Nearly every state in the country has adopted the common standards. States and districts are still scrambling to spread the word about what the documents mean, let alone design curriculum and get teachers up to speed on that. It seems that principals could be a forgotten piece in this puzzle.

JoAnn Bartoletti, the new executive director of the National Association of Secondary School Principals, stopped by to chat with us at EdWeek today, and this is one of the concerns she expressed. Bringing principals into the loop on the common core is a top priority for her as she assumes leadership of the group this summer.

As thousands of schools across the country get ready to teach to the common standards, principals are finding little or no guidance on how to shepherd them into classrooms, Ms. Bartoletti said.

“How does the common core manifest itself in instruction?” she said. “How do principals know good instruction [for the common core] when they see it? And how will they be evaluated on it? The dots are just not connected on this.”

An example of the disconnect comes from New Jersey, where Bartoletti has been heading the state principals’ and supervisors’ association. The state department of education held a meeting on common-standards implementation late last month, and invited superintendents and curriculum directors, she said. While principals were free to attend, they weren’t targeted for the training, she noted, even though they will be responsible for overseeing implementation in their schools, and might well be evaluated on how well they do that.

So one of Bartoletti’s top priorities for the NASSP is figuring out how to offer common-core guidance to principals. The organization has been discussing the issue in its blogs and other publications. But it wants to reach more members and provide or facilitate more concrete guidance. Holding “virtual” meetings or working closely with state associations to offer training are ideas being batted around. Stay tuned as things take shape.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.