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States Move Ahead to Implement Common Core

With assessments only two years away, states are moving toward putting the Common Core State Standards into practice, with most having completed plans in three key areas: professional development for teachers, developing instructional materials, and devising teacher-evaluation systems linked to the new standards, according to a study released today.

The survey of states' common-core implementation is a joint project of Education First, a Seattle-based education policy and consulting group, and the EPE Research Center, which is run by Education Week's parent nonprofit, Editorial Projects in Education. It's the two groups' second annual look at state implementation, so this year's study looks not only at three important implementation areas, but at how far states have come in those areas since last year's survey.

The new report, "Moving Forward: A National Perspective on States' Progress In Common Core State Standards Implementation Planning," found states making commendable progress.

"The results of the survey indicate that, over the past year, most states have moved forward to fully develop plans in key areas widely considered to be necessary for successful implementation of the new standards," the report said.

As you know, 46 states and the District of Columbia have adopted the standards. The new survey reflects their progress as of the summer of 2012. In the case of one state, Montana, which declined to answer the survey, researchers used available information to piece together answers. States were asked to characterize the state of their planning in teacher evaluation, professional development, and curriculum materials in one of three ways: complete, in development, or no planning activity.

A year ago, 18 states reported not having a completed plan in any of the three areas. This year's survey found only three states in that situation. Forty-four states have fully developed plans in at least one area, compared with 28 in the 2011 study. Twenty-one states have completed plans in all three areas, an accomplishment only seven could claim at the time of the 2011 survey.

Looking at each focus area, states are farther along on planning for professional development than they are in planning for curriculum materials or devising teacher-evaluation systems. Forty-six states have at least begun planning for professional development, with work completed in 37 of those states. Only 20 states had completed plans in this area in the 2011 survey.

For each of the other two areas—curriculum materials and teacher-evaluation systems—42 states reported in 2012 that they had begun planning, with 30 of those states having completed plans. At the time of the 2011 survey, 15 states had completed plans to develop teacher-evaluation systems aligned to the common standards, but a year later, 30 did.

"Though the ultimate impact of the transition to the Common Core State Standards remains to be seen," the study concluded, "the survey results presented in this report suggest that most states are further along in planning for this change than they were a year ago. Since effective planning by state leaders will help educators navigate the shifting educational landscape and better prepare our nation's students to meet new academic expectations, this is welcome news."

An earlier version of this blog post contained incorrect information.

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