States finding success, challenges implementing college- and career-readiness standards, reports find

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Philadelphia, Pa. (January 31, 2017) – The Common Core and other college- and career-readiness standards have dominated education policy debates for almost a decade. But less attention is paid to how those standards are put into practice. The Center on Standards, Alignment, Instruction, and Learning (C-SAIL) is releasing the first detailed picture of implementation in four states: Kentucky, Massachusetts, Ohio, and Texas. These reports track states taking different approaches to standard reform, and begin to identify successes and challenges from which other states can learn.

C-SAIL is undertaking a multi-strand research program to understand how states are implementing college- and career-readiness standards (CCR) in English language arts and math. Among the reports’ key findings:

  • State officials create opportunities for stakeholder engagement to foster a sense of buy-in among teachers, principals, and district officials. Massachusetts and Ohio promote stakeholder engagement through collaborative events such as biannual convenings or online surveys, respectively, generating a sense of ownership for teachers, principals, and other district officials working to implement new standards.
  • States play a supporting, rather than prescriptive role, in instructional guidance. All four states emphasize local district control, offering supporting resources and professional development at the state level. All states offer curricular resources for teachers of students with disabilities and English language learners, with notably specific guidance for students with disabilities in Massachusetts and specific guidance for English language learners in Texas. 
  • Alignment of standards, instruction, assessments, professional development, and teacher evaluations is an ongoing process due to the continuous refinement of the states’ CCR standards. Massachusetts, Ohio, and Texas have most recently revised their state assessment systems, whereas Kentucky's CCR-aligned assessment has been implemented since 2012.  

C-SAIL’s Year 1 State Reports describe CCR implementation through the lens of the policy attributes, five characteristics that predict successful policy implementation: specificity, consistency, authority, power, and stability (learn more about the policy attributes here).

“With all states engaged in the implementation of new college- and career-readiness standards, whether their own state standards or the Common Core, it is more crucial than ever to understand what is required for effective standards implementation and positive outcomes for all students,” says C-SAIL director Andy Porter at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education 

Upcoming C-SAIL analyses will integrate state policy attribute analyses with data from district interviews of teachers, principals, and district officials as well as student achievement data from C-SAIL’s Longitudinal Outcomes Study. Also available soon, C-SAIL’s second interactive graphic series mapping the degree of each policy attribute in state CCR policies. See our first interactive map series here.

“Our upcoming district reports act as a complement to the Year 1 State reports offering unique insights about the innovative ways that urban, suburban, and rural districts have risen to the challenge of implementing college- and career-readiness standards,” says Laura Desimone, C-SAIL co-director and Implementation Study principal investigator.

C-SAIL’s research pays special attention to the experience of English language learners and students with disabilities.

See the reports: Kentucky | Massachusetts | Ohio | Texas