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K-12, Higher Education Collaborating on Common Core, Survey Finds

The good news from a recent survey of education officials is that most states report that the K-12 and higher education sectors are working together to implement the Common Core State Standards.

But it's not been easy.

Of the 40 states that responded to a survey by the Center on Education Policy at George Washington University, K-12 state education agency officials in 16 states reported facing major challenges and another 19 encountered minor challenges in collaborating with higher education.

"Challenge does not necessarily have to be a bad thing," said Jennifer McMurrer, a senior research associate at CEP and a coauthor of the report released Wednesday about state agency's views on postsecondary involvement. "There are a lot of different aspects of the common core and working with postsecondary. Our state folks have relayed that coordinating the pieces and ensuring everything is addressed is not easy."

Yet, it was encouraging in the survey responses to see so much going on between the two sectors and that work was so far along, McMurrer added in an interview.

Officials in 34 of the 40 states surveyed reported K-12 officials are conducting briefings or information sessions with postsecondary institutions about the common core.

At the heart of discussion between the two sectors is alignment of content and teacher preparation. In 31 states surveyed, colleges and universities were reviewing the new standards for math and literacy to determine if they did indeed reflect what was considered college ready, the survey found.

Officials from about half of the states responding to the survey indicated that their higher education institutions were considering using the results of the new common-core assessments to make decisions about incoming college students' placement and possible need for remediation.

The job to align the content of college and university teacher preparation programs with the common core was challenging to 27 of the 40 state education officials surveyed.

Working through some of the collaborative challenges is critical to the success of the common core, said McMurrer. Having postsecondary institutions accept the new standards as a measure of college readiness is "a key and integral piece of the common-core implementation," she said.

The CEP report was based on a portion of a survey conducted in February and March of this year. It is the latest report in a series on the common core based on this survey, with the last one released in August.

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