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Lack of Staff and Expertise Hinders Common Core Implementation

The vast majority of states adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in 2010, the first year they were available, but lack of adequate staff and expertise on CCSS presented a major challenge to the implementation, according to a new report from the United States Department of Education.

The report, "State Implementation of Reforms Promoted Under the Recovery Act," evaluated state-level implementation of educational reforms implemented under the Recovery Act in the years 2009-2010 and 2010-2011. The Recovery Act required state education agencies to commit to four key areas of reform in order to qualify for funding under the act. One of those key areas was adoption of "rigorous college-ready and career-ready standards and high-quality assessments." The other areas were establishment of data systems for performance improvement, improved teacher effectiveness and support for low-performing schools.

Since the report covers only the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 school years, and the CCSS were not yet available for adoption in 2009-2010, that aspect of the report covers only the 2010-2011 school year.

Key findings of the report for the 2010-2011 school year:

  • Forty-three states adopted the CCSS in math and English language arts, one state adopted CCSS in English language arts only and four states updated their own state standards;
  • Thirty-seven SEAs provided, guided or funded professional development on the CCSS to staff of local education agencies, including in-person train-the-trainer sessions and online professional development;
  • Twenty-nine SEAs provided instructional materials or curriculum assistance for the CCSS; and
  • All of the states that adopted the CCSS also joined either the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) or the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC).

Sixty-seven of the SEAs that implemented any of the reforms related to CCSS reported that they experienced one or more major challenges. According to the report, the biggest challenge was lack of sufficient staff or expertise to successfully implement the CCSS. Fifty percent of the SEAs didn't have enough staff or expertise in developing instructional materials aligned to CCSS; 36 percent didn't have enough staff to implement CCSS; and 55 percent didn't have enough staff or expertise to develop interim or formative assessments to measure student mastery of CCSS.

The full report, "State Implementation of Reforms Promoted Under the Recovery Act," is available as a downloadable PDF from the Institute of Education Sciences site.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at [email protected].