It's hard to believe that college- and career-ready standards (CCRS) were officially rolled out over five years ago.
A lot has happened in that time, and from reports of repeals and protests, to new research from the Center for American Progress suggests that schools and districts committed to implementing rigorous academic standards are seeing student achievement gains.
However, now that implementation is in full swing in some states and more performance data is becoming available, we have a great opportunity to look carefully at what is happening in schools and learn how to make the promise of college- and career-ready standards a reality.
As Dr. Michael Moody pointed out in a recent EdSource article, Getting it right: 4 key areas in effective Common Core implementation, many states are at a very critical point in their implementation of CCRS. The success or failure of this (or any) initiative in education is ultimately dependent upon how well it is implemented, and it's clear that implementing rigorous academic standards requires a deep focus and unwavering commitment.
Dr. Moody goes on in the article to share four big ideas for district and school leaders to consider when it comes to making standard implementation work.
1. Connect the standards to all systems.
Effective implementation requires all systems, from curriculum and assessments to professional learning and evaluation frameworks, to be aligned with each other and clearly connected with goals established in the standards.
2. Give teachers the support they need— and deserve.
The CCRS present a sharp learning curve. That means professional learning must go deeper by engaging teachers in ongoing job-embedded experiences and offering content-specific feedback that can be easily translated to classroom practice.
3. Focus on assessing student progress, not testing.
It's not just a test at the end of the year that matters. Successful implementation of standards requires effective ongoing formative assessment practices to inform and adjust instruction.
4. Look for teaching and learning in the classroom.
It's important for school leaders to regularly assess the quality and efficacy of teachers’ practices. But it's equally— if not more— important that they are also constantly evaluating evidence of student learning to ensure students are really on track for success before and beyond graduation.
As Dr. Moody put it, "The students we serve need us to get this right." Now that we are past initial implementation in most states, it's time to focus on doing better every day, for every student.
Jason Stricker is the CEO of Insight Education Group, ensuring that our clients and partners receive the highest quality services. With a deep understanding of organizational change and what it takes to successfully implement and sustain initiatives in districts and schools. His experiences as a classroom teacher, chief academic officer and consultant brings great innovative ideas to Insight's blog. You can follow him on twitter at @stricktlyjason.