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School Chiefs Leader Joins Common-Core Project

Gene Wilhoit, who directed the Council of Chief State School Officers when it helped lead the design and adoption of the Common Core State Standards, has joined a nonprofit that was founded by the lead authors of the standards.

Student Achievement Partners announced today that Wilhoit has joined the organization, which is playing a central role in guiding assessment and instructional materials for the standards now in place in all but four states.

Last June, Wilhoit announced he would retire from his post as executive director of the CCSSO, a membership organization that serves state commissioners of education. He had said at the time that he would continue work to help states implement the common core.

A month earlier, the leadership of SAP had entered a transitional stage, as one of its co-founders, David Coleman, announced that he would become the president of the College Board. Common-core watchers (such as Curriculum Matters) were keeping an eye on who might fill the space left by Coleman's departure. Now we know.

While Wilhoit won't replace Coleman per se—Coleman's title was chief executive officer, while Wilhoit's will be "partner"—there is little doubt that Wilhoit will play a pivotal leadership role at the 26-employee nonprofit. A former commissioner of education in Arkansas and Kentucky, his connections and his influence run far and deep, and he's been a heavyweight advocate for the standards from their inception. SAP said Wilhoit will work with state chiefs, urban superintendents, teachers' unions, foundations, and business leaders to put the standards into practice.

Wilhoit joins two of the remaining co-founders of SAP, Jason Zimba and Susan Pimentel, who, along with Coleman, set up the organization in 2007 funded by contracts from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Zimba, along with University of Arizona professor William McCallum, co-led the writing of the math standards, while Pimentel, along with Coleman, co-led the crafting of the English/language arts standards.

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