The end of the 2014-2015 school year marks a significant milestone for the Common Core State Standards. By now, every Common Core compliant state (40 at the most recent count) will have completed at least one year of implementation, including year-end assessments.
Obviously this doesn’t mean the end of Common Core implementation. It’s an ongoing process that will take years to complete, if you can ever really call it “complete”—and many states know this. This is one of the reasons we’re seeing so much state money earmarked specifically for Common Core implementation, a trend I predict will continue into the foreseeable future. In California alone this year, Governor Brown has appropriated $1.1 billion from the state’s General Fund for Standards implementation.
But regardless of how much money you’re receiving for the Common Core, funding alone won’t guarantee results. In the end, your system’s success will hinge on how well you invest the money you’re given.
I’ve outlined four steps below—tips and “look fors” to help you make the wisest investments with your Common Core funds so you can be sure your spending has a significant and lasting positive impact on your school or district’s Common Core implementation. I’ve put these steps together based on trends we’re seeing here at School Improvement Network; specifically, what’s driving the most Common Core success among our clients and contacts.
Step 1: Get a map
When it comes to the Common Core, your teachers are traveling new roads. Make sure they have a map that gets them where they need to go. Look for solutions that map out Common Core to the last detail,laying out every individual standard and pairing them with resources that show teachers how to implement.
Step 2: Find classroom-ready resources
The Common Core isn’t a theoretical approach to teaching. It’s hands on, which is why you need hands-on resources that help guide the day-to-day work of your teachers. Make sure the resources you choose provide actionable, Common Core-aligned lesson plans that can be used at a moment’s notice in the classroom.
Step 3: Don’t just tell—show
It’s one thing to describe to your teachers what Common Core implementation looks like in the classroom, but it’s far more powerful to show them. Make sure that the Common Core resource you buy provides your teachers standard-by-standard video instruction, letting them watch some of the most talented teachers in the US implement the Common Core in every grade and subject.
Step 4: Focus on collaboration
You don’t have to be alone as you implement the Common Core. There are millions of teachers all over the country integrating the Core. Learn from them and let them support your implementation efforts. Look for a resource that makes this possible—that expands your Common Core PLC with an active, online community of other educators, and let your teachers get advice on Common Core implementation from their colleagues all over the US.