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Urban Districts Report Far-Reaching Changes for Common Core

Most urban districts plan to have fully implemented the Common Core State Standards in English/language arts and mathematics by the 2014-15 school year, according to a new report from the Council of the Great City Schools , and more than half of districts have already begun.

The report, "Implementing the Common Core State Standards in Urban Public Schools," details the results of a survey of urban districts' progress toward implementing the standards as of the 2011-12 school year. It is intended as the first part of a multi-year analysis of implementation trends. Thirty-six of the 67 members completed the survey.

Just how the standards would translate from theory to practice has been a major concern for educators. The report is evidence of the breadth of the new standards' implications: Districts have adjusted professional development, assessments, curriculum, evaluation, and communications plans to account for the common core.

Some of the report's findings:


  • All the responding districts involved teachers in the development of their plans;

  • Implementation is further along at the elementary level than in middle and high schools;

  • Two-thirds of districts are revising their curricula for reading and math this school year;

  • About 87 percent plan to fully implement the standards by the 2014-2015 school year;

  • More than half have already assessed the alignment between their district's current curriculum and the standards;

  • Some 60 percent of the districts are currently developing new criteria for evaluating teachers that are aligned with the common core; Another 23 percent have already developed such criteria;

  • About 87 percent of the districts are currently developing a communications strategy to inform key stakeholders of their district's implementation or have already done so.

A few more interesting tidbits: 69 percent of districts say that more than 60 percent of their central office staff can discuss the implications of the standards for classroom instruction. Only 13 percent of districts have already developed a plan for monitoring the implementation of the standards, while 68 percent are developing such systems. Close to a third of districts say that a timetable for monitoring implementation has not yet been set.

The council's executive director, Michael Casserly, is optimistic about the potential of the state standards in the press release: "The new benchmarks hold immense promise for elevating the quality of public education in urban school districts that serve large numbers of disadvantaged students," he said.

You can find more about the Common Core State Standards on our "standards" topic page—there are recent articles on charter schools' implementation of the standards and on a coalition of California districts that are working on implementation together&mdash. You can also track the common core on our Curriculum Matters blog.

The report was partly funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which also provides support for Education Week's coverage of K-12 industry and innovation.

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