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Common Standards: Moving From Adoption to Implementation

We've been keeping you informed as states adopt the common standards. But even as that happens, a lot of discussion is swirling about how to put them into practice. It's been uttered so often that it's pretty much a new mantra: Standards alone won't make a difference. You also need good curriculum, instruction, professional development, and assessments that embody the standards.

With that in mind, Achieve—which has been centrally involved in drafting the common standards—has put together an implementation guide that is designed to help states move the standards from state board offices to classrooms.

The guide, "On the Road to Implementation: Achieving the Promise of the Common Core State Standards," discusses such matters as aligning instructional materials, tests, and graduation requirements with the common standards, leveraging state funding to support them, and conducting "gap analyses" to see how a state's standards differ from the common set.

We were just ruminating on the curricular-alignment issue the other day, as yet another company issued a press release proclaiming that its materials reflect the common standards. As this kind of stuff piles up, it won't be easy for states and districts to sort out the competing alignment claims. And common-standards insiders are still grappling with how to manage the Alignment Rush. This will be interesting stuff, with huge profits hanging in the balance.

Since the common standards purport to be a path to college and career readiness, another document issued recently might be of interest. The National Governors Association, which, as you know, co-led the common-standards initiative, has issued a policy brief describing what states must do to set performance goals that will ensure that all their students are college- and career-ready. Check it out here.

The National Council of La Raza, also, is calling for serious attention to good implementation, noting that 78 percent of Latino students and 88 percent of African American students now live in states that have embraced the common standards. The group says that the common core represents a tremendous opportunity to improve the education of disadvantaged students, but only if it's put into practice well. (Note their pointed references to implementing with English language learners in mind, and to engaging parents and community members.)

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