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Most States Providing Common-Core Instructional Materials

Nearly all states are developing curricular and supplemental materials to help districts and schools implement the common-core state standards, but far fewer are approving or certifying lists of materials, according to a new report from a Washington-based research and advocacy group. And just four states—Delaware, Kentucky, Oklahoma, and Nebraska—said they are requiring that districts use materials aligned to the common standards in English/language arts and mathematics.

Furthermore, 39 states say they have developed a coordinated agencywide plan and calendar for professional development aligned to the common core (or their own career- and college-ready standards), while 20 states say they have or will identify high-quality or promising providers for districts and schools to access.

The findings are part of the 7th annual "Closing the Expectations Gap" report from Achieve, a nonprofit organization founded by governors and business leaders that played a key role in helping to develop the common-core standards. All but one state, Montana, responded to the survey this year.

"One of the shortcomings of past state standards-based reform efforts was the lack of attention to implementation, including ensuring that curricular and instructional resources and meaningful professional development were available," the report says.

The report provides little detail about the types of curricular materials states are developing and providing, other than to say they include model units, lessons, curricular maps, or graphic organizers. The voluntary offerings supplied by states are typically housed on state education agency websites, the report says.

The survey also probed whether states are matching their standards with high school graduation requirements, finding that while the number is growing, it's still fewer than half (23 states). Three made changes in 2011 to align their standards with graduation requirements: Hawaii, Iowa, and Washington state. The report defines such alignment as requiring students to complete a college- and career-ready curriculum "that includes at least mathematics through the content typically taught in an Algebra II course (or its equivalent) and four years of grade-level English" to earn a diploma.

"States send mixed signals about their commitment to college- and career-readiness when the courses—or competency-based demonstrations—required for students to earn a diploma in the state encompass only a subset of academic knowledge and skills" needed to succeed in postsecondary education and job training.

The report concludes that all 50 states and the District of Columbia have adopted English/language arts and mathematics standards that "reflect the knowledge and skills colleges and employers demand of high school graduates." This includes the 46 states to adopt the common core and the four others that did not: Alaska, Nebraska Texas, and Virginia. (Minnesota adopted the common-core ELA standards, but not the math standards.)

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