UPDATED: Three Districts Team Up to Implement Common Standards

By Catherine Gewertz — April 21, 2011 2 min read
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We’re hearing news that three districts are beginning a three-year pilot to implement the common standards. The project is being led by the Aspen Institute and the Charles A. Dana Center at the University of Texas-Austin.

The work grew out of the Aspen Institute’s urban district leadership networks, which include groups of urban superintendents and chief academic officers, and groups focusing on literacy and math.

Fifteen districts are involved in the leadership networks, but only three of them are serving as pilot sites, with “deep-dive” work including on-site technical assistance, the Aspen Institute’s Joaquin Tamayo, who’s working on the project, told me. Those three are Denver, Baltimore, and Hillsborough, County, Fla. (A story about Hillsborough County’s work ran in the local paper yesterday.)

Sheila A. Brown, who’s the Aspen Institute’s lead on the pilot, told me that Aspen and the Dana Center are developing resources that will be available to all 15 districts in the network, but are concentrating their on-site support and training in the three lead districts.

One of the resources that Aspen and the Dana Center have developed so far is a “Studying the Standards” document designed to help districts understand the genesis and timeline of the common standards, and to dig into its math and English/language arts content, Brown told me. They’ve also developed a self-assessment process to help districts gauge their readiness for full standards implementation, she said.

The pilot is supported by grants to the Aspen Institute and the Dana Center by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (which also supports Education Week‘s publisher, Editorial Projects in Education).

We told you last year that six urban districts were planning to pilot the common standards as well, in conjunction with the American Federation of Teachers and the Council of the Great City Schools. The AFT and Council had teamed up with the National Governors Association and Council of Chief State School Officers to apply for a federal Investing in Innovation grant for the pilot, but didn’t get it. A search of the Gates Foundation’s grant database shows me that all six districts have gotten half-million-dollar grants to work on common core implementation. When I get more of an update on this pilot, I will share it with you.

[UPDATE (April 22): The AFT tells me that without i3 funding for the pilot, it is focusing its attention on its common-standards task force, which is examining implementation issues. Michael Casserly, the executive director of the Council of the Great City Schools, tells me that the council is undertaking a “tiered” approach to a common-standards implementation effort involving not only the original six pilot districts, but “all the major cities” in its membership.]

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