To date, 46 states, 2 territories and the District of Columbia (and Anchorage, Alaska) have chosen to adopt the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). The wide adoption of the CCSS means that, for the first time in history, states will share a common platform on which they can collaborate and compare achievement, and students from coast to coast will be held to the same standards designed to prepare them for life after high school.
But the mere adoption of these new standards is clearly insufficient. Success in each state hinges on implementation: the strategies used to improve instruction in every classroom, the tiered supports provided to all students, the policy changes to promote coherence and alignment, and the commitment to building and maintaining widespread understanding of and support for the new standards.
The results of two teacher surveys were released this month that provide valuable insight as schools work to implement the CCSS. The MetLife Survey of the American Teacher: Teachers, Parents and the Economy indicates that teachers are widely acknowledged as the most important school-related factor influencing student achievement. In large numbers, teachers today emphasize the importance and the challenge of preparing all students to meet higher standards for college and career readiness, including diverse learners with the highest needs. Successful implementation of CCSS to prepare all students for college and careers, will require listening to teachers in ways that can make essential opportunities for professional learning both more efficient and effective.
"The survey's findings underscore that education is a shared responsibility, particularly in the face of financial challenges," said Dennis White, vice president of corporate contributions for MetLife. "Economic prosperity will depend on a new generation well-prepared to learn for a lifetime in order to compete and collaborate in a global economy."
Scholastic and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation recently released Primary Sources 2012: America's Teachers on the Teaching Profession, which surveyed more than 10,000 teachers from every state in urban and rural districts. The findings specific to the CCSS are very positive. Teachers clearly understand that their job is to keep students academically motivated and prepare them to meet the rigorous standards that nearly all states have adopted as part of the CCSS.
Teachers identify a clear link between standards and consistent, equitable education for all students. Many teachers said that common standards (64%), clear curriculum (79%), and common assessments (49%) would make a significant impact on improving student academic achievement. However, while the majority (78%) of teachers are aware of the Common Core State Standards, many do not yet feel prepared to teach to these new standards.
To assist states in gauging the strength of their implementation plans and to illustrate how to improve them, Achieve and Education First released a new "Common Core State Standards Implementation Rubric and Self-Assessment Tool." Implementing the standards and related policies, resources, and programs is no easy task, and will require states to assume a far stronger leadership role than most have taken in the past. This tool sets a high quality standard for a strong state role, provides concrete details and examples to help state leaders get there, and profiles some promising state approaches. In addition, the tool is intended to complement a workbook that Achieve and the Education Delivery Institute (EDI) released (and recently updated), Implementing the Common Core State Standards: A Workbook for State and Local Leaders. The Achieve-EDI workbook is mainly about "the how"—what it takes to organize and manage the complex implementation plan required for success. This new tool focuses more directly on the "what." More materials to help states and others interested in better understanding the CCSS are at www.achieve.org/achieving-common-core.