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Report: Most Important Factor for Common Core Success Is Teacher Support

The national discussion around Common Core is off base. Instead of focusing on test scores, teacher accountability and federal takeovers, policymakers need to put their efforts behind supporting teachers to improve teaching practices and ultimately improve student learning, according to a report released this month.

The report, "Building the Missing Link between the Common Core and Improved Learning," from the nonprofit Bridgespan Group, examines three approaches to preparing for Common Core — in the state of Kentucky, in Florida's Hillsborough County Public Schools, and at the Center for Inspired Teaching — to identify practices that are helping to create an environment conducive to a successful transition to the new standards.

What all three approaches have in common, according to the report, is an emphasis on making the teacher the center of the transformation by:

  • First ensuring that the significance of the changeover to Common Core State Standards is understood by teachers in terms of the need for dramatic changes to teaching styles, from drill to exploration;
  • Ensuring that "teachers are at the front of the movement and working together to lead their own improvement toward shared, ambitious goals"; and
  • Making certain teachers are provided with adequate "structures, time, and resources required to sustain the many years and many cycles of inquiry and improvement necessary to achieve the new bar for student learning" with the understanding that the process of improvement will take place over many years, not overnight.

"State and district leaders must appreciate that the Common Core will require a long journey of instructional improvement, supported by all levels of the organization," according to the report. "They must demonstrate their commitment to this journey through structures, resources, and leadership that help teachers, principals, and other education stakeholders keep learning and keep improving. Furthermore, these efforts need to be integrated across the multiple levels of the educational system. States, school districts, TA providers, and funders need to align and coordinate their work. All the players must put aside existing perceptions that the status quo is sufficient and come to the table prepared to honestly face the magnitude of the change needed for students to meet the high standards of the Common Core."

The complete report is freely available in PDF form on Bridgespan's site. An executive summary is also available online.

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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