When making cases for and against Common Core, one of the most important voices is the classroom teacher. The Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard University recently studied implementation in five states – Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, and Nevada – to find out teachers’ and principals’ views on the new standards. Researchers found that despite the additional work, teachers and principals in the five states have largely embraced the new standards. Moreover, the reports’ authors believe that because of shared standards “leaders in multiple states can now share the cost of learning about the challenges teachers are facing and the effectiveness of the resources they are using.”
“Common standards allow us to measure what may work for teachers invested in meeting those new higher standards,” explained the study’s principal investigator, Professor Thomas J. Kane in a press release. “We have an obligation to share the promising and not-so promising practices across the country, so that all students can benefit.”
In mathematics, the researchers found three markers of successful implementation.
- more professional development days
- more classroom observations with explicit feedback tied to the Common Core
- the inclusion of Common Core-aligned student outcomes in teacher evaluations
The researchers did not find any direct commonalities in successful implementation strategies in ELA. They did find, though, that three out of four English teachers (72%) have changed more than half of their instructional materials in response to the Common Core. In addition, seven out of eight English teachers (85%) reported having increased writing assignments in which students are expected to use evidence to support their arguments. A similar number also increased assigned reading of nonfiction texts. Regarding which materials they use, 80% of ELA teachers and 72% of mathematics teachers reported using, on at least a weekly basis, curricular materials that they or their colleagues at their school developed.
Read Teaching Higher – Educators’ Perspectives on Common Core Implementation, by Thomas J. Kane, Antoniya M. Owens, William H. Marinell, Daniel R. C. Thal, and Douglas O. Staiger, Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard University (February 2016)