Policy | Research

State Education Agencies See Little Threat from Challenges to Common Core

Research also finds strong demand for federal assistance to pay for implementation of both the standards and the assessments

In states that have adopted Common Core State Standards, most state education agencies foresee proceeding with implementation in the 2013-2014 school year as planned, despite growing pressures from within schools and from outside the education system.

In fact, according to a report published last week, "Year 3 of Implementing the Common Core State Standards: State Education Agencies' Views on the Federal Role," although school leaders around the country have expressed concerns over teacher training, costs of implementation, and inadequate technology infrastructure, zero state agencies reported that they consider resistance from within K-12 schools as a major challenge. Twenty-one of the 40 state agencies that participated in the survey identified resistance from K-12 as a minor challenge; 17 indicated it was no challenge at all.

The research, conducted by the Center on Education Policy, found that more state agencies consider challenges from higher education and challenges from outside academia altogether to be slightly greater threats than those posed by K-12 schools.

Five state agencies indicated that they consider "overcoming resistance to the CCSS from sources outside the K-12 system (other than higher education)" to be a major challenge, with 24 labeling this resistance a minor challenge. Only seven considered outside resistance to be no threat whatsoever.

"Overcoming resistance to the CCSS from institutions of higher education" was rated a major challenge by two agencies, a minor challenge by 16, and no challenge by 17.

All told, 37 of the 40 participating state agencies "considered it unlikely that their state would reverse, limit, or change its decision to adopt the standards during 2013-14."

"What we found is that, while there might be resistance to the Common Core, it isn't coming from state education agencies," said CEP Executive Director Maria Ferguson in a statement released to coincide with the report. "State leaders are more focused on finding resources and guidance to carry out the demanding steps required for full implementation."

The research also found strong demand among state agencies for federal assistance with the implementation of both the Common Core standards and the impending PARCC and Smarter Balanced assessments.

According to the Center on Education Policy: "The Administration has been criticized by some for being too involved in or heavy-handed in its encouragement of the state-initiated and state-led standards through federal initiatives like Race to the Top and the No Child Left Behind waivers. But only two states in the CEP survey reported that they did not want any federal assistance with CCSS implementation."

Among the survey participants, 75 percent or more expressed support for changes to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) that would provide:

  • Federal assistance with implementations on the state (82.5 percent) and district (80 percent) levels;
  • Federal assistance covering costs related to the implementation of the assessments;
  • Federal help at the state and district levels with providing professional development to teachers and principals; and
  • Federal assistance with keeping the Common Core assessments updated and maintained.

Only two state agencies, according to the report, indicated they did not want federal assistance of an kind.

"It is pretty clear that state leaders see the federal government as having a role to play in Common Core implementation. Exactly what that role is and how that support is structured moving forward will represent a key decision point for both the Common Core and any future ESEA reauthorization," Ferguson added.

The complete report is freely available on the Center on Education Policy's site.

About the Author

David Nagel is editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Technology Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal and STEAM Universe. A 25-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art and business publications.

He can be reached at dnagel@1105media.com. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at or follow him on Twitter at @THEJournalDave (K-12) or @CampusTechDave (higher education).

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