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Survey: Districts Heavily Focused on New Tests, Materials, for Common Core

A new survey by an education marketing organization finds that school districts are making a top priority of shifting materials, instruction and assessments to reflect the Common Core State Standards.

That's not too surprising, of course, given that all but four states have adopted the standards. But it offers yet another thermometer of sorts to measure the level of attention and activity around the new standards. My colleague Michele Molnar has the details for you over at the Marketplace K-12 blog. She's reporting on a sneak preview of the MDR survey, based on the feedback of about 500 curriculum and technology directors, which will be out in its full form later this month.

Among the findings? Modifying curriculum and instruction to meet the common core topped the list of district priorities, with 84 percent saying that was a "high" priority. Close behind was modifying assessments to reflect the core, which 79 percent rated a high priority.

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Sixty-eight percent of the districts reported that they plan to buy new curriculum materials for the common core, and 76 percent said they are planning to obtain free materials from the two assessment consortia, PARCC and Smarter Balanced. Two-thirds, though, said they were planning to create their own instructional materials.

Ednetsurvey.JPGThese dynamics raise, once again, the question of how to figure out what materials are "aligned" to the standards. Increasingly, organizations both for-profit and nonprofit are stepping forward to try to answer that question. Michele reported earlier on a handful of these groups. I've told you about a few, too: a plan by the Business Roundtable to set up a vetting panel to evaluate curricula; an "alignment toolkit" created by Student Achievement Partners, and a project of Achieve called EQuIP (which has alignment rubrics but also includes a panel of educators who evaluate lessons and units).

Of course the common core hardly represents the first time educators have had to muck their way through this "alignment" question. As long as there have been state standards, there have been questions about which materials best reflect those standards. The difference now is that the common standards have created a larger, more lucrative market in which entrepreneurs can peddle their alignment solutions.

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