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YEAR 3 OF IMPEMENTING THE COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS: States Unlikely to Reverse Decision to Adopt Common Core, Say “Vast Majority” of Key Education Officials

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“What we found is that, while there might be resistance to the Common Core, it isn’t coming from state education agencies,” said Maria Ferguson, executive director of CEP.

Key education officials in a “vast majority” of states that have adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in English language arts (ELA) and mathematics say it is unlikely that their state would “reverse, limit, or change” its decision to adopt the standards during the 2013–14 school year, according to a new report from the Center on Education Policy (CEP) at the George Washington University. Year 3 of Implementing the Common Core State Standards: State Education Agencies’ Views on the Federal Role, is the third in a series of reports that track states’ progress in implementing the CCSS through surveys of deputy state superintendents of education or their designees. Forty states responded to the 2013 survey, including thirty-nine states that had adopted the CCSS in both ELA and math and one that had adopted the standards in ELA only.

“What we found is that, while there might be resistance to the Common Core, it isn’t coming from state education agencies,” said Maria Ferguson, executive director of CEP. “State leaders are more focused on finding resources and guidance to carry out the demanding steps required for full implementation.”

According to the report, thirty-seven of the forty CCSS-adopting states that participated in the spring 2013 survey felt that their state would not go back on its decision to adopt the standards; two states said they did not know and one state said it was “somewhat likely” that it would reverse, limit, or change the standards in school year 2013–14.

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The report notes that opposition to the CCSS has led to attempts to delay or roll back the standards in several states, including Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and South Dakota. With the exceptions of Michigan and Indiana, which have halted funding for implementation, these efforts have been “largely unsuccessful,” the report finds. In fact, only five states said that overcoming resistance to the CCSS from sources outside the K–12 system posed a “major” challenge although twenty-four states saw overcoming this resistance as a “minor” challenge, as shown in the table below. Two states believed overcoming resistance to the CCSS from institutions of higher education presented a major challenge.

The report acknowledges that some of the states declining to participate in the survey were among those that have faced challenges to the standards. Other states facing challenges did participate in the survey so their experiences are captured.

When asked whether the federal government should assist them and their districts with implementing the CCSS through a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), thirty-three states said that “authorizing and appropriating federal funds through ESEA to assist states generally with CCSS implementation would help their efforts to transition to the Common Core.”

At least thirty states also said the federal government could help (1) provide state and district professional development activities for teachers and principals regarding the CCSS; (2) help states with the costs of implementing the CCSS-aligned assessments being developed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC); and (3) support the updating and maintenance of the CCSS-aligned assessments being developed by PARCC and SBAC.

A large majority of states also expressed support for legislative changes to Title I, which provides support for low-income students, and Title III, which supports students with limited English proficiency, to help teachers teach CCSS content to students served by those programs. Only two states said that they did not want federal assistance with implementing the standards.

About one-third of states surveyed favored non-legislative changes that could help with CCSS implementation, such as guidance on how ESEA funds, including Titles I and III, can currently be used to support state and district efforts to implement the CCSS. When asking about non-legislative changes, CEP separately analyzed the responses of the twenty-nine participating states that had been granted a waiver from key provisions of NCLB. Of those, twenty-two said waiver flexibility is helping them transition to the CCSS. And out of those twenty-two, fourteen did not indicate support for any other non-legislative changes, “perhaps [signifying] that in these fourteen states, the waiver alone is sufficient to help them navigate the ESEA requirements and the Common Core,” the report notes.

“It is pretty clear that state leaders see the federal government as having a role to play in Common Core implementation,” said Ferguson. “Exactly what that role is and how that support is structured moving forward will represent a key decision point for both the Common Core and any future ESEA reauthorization.”

The complete report is available at http://bit.ly/18HSfTc.

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