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A retrospective of Common Core adoption and implementation
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 06, 2014 10:57 AM

The Common Core State Standards are scheduled to be fully implemented in participating states in the 2014-15 school year, which is now upon us. Though some schools feel they need more time to adjust to the Common Core, the fact that this momentous change has occurred is worth noting. In honor of the near completion of implementation, let's rewind to take a look at the CCSS adoption and incorporation timeline.

Common Core development
Educational leaders began developmental work on the Common Core in 2009. State commissioners and governors from 48 states and the District of Columbia teamed up to assess educational research and international standards. This information served as a guide for creating what is now the CCSS. The developers also incorporated public feedback, existing standards and the experience of educators into their policy writing.

All of that research whittled down into two main aspects of the Common Core: college and career readiness guidelines, and K-12 educational benchmarks. Together, those elements are meant to help students succeed in school and beyond.

Getting feedback
In January 2010, CCSS developers gave their first copy of the Standards to states for review. They spent the rest of the winter and early spring revising the Common Core based on that feedback. In March, the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers released the final draft.

States review, adopt and ratify
Starting in 2011, states were able to assess the Common Core and decide whether they wanted to use them in their schools. States that decided to adopt the new Standards began the process of replacing old educational benchmarks. The choice to use the Common Core was a voluntary one made by state boards of education members, chief state school officers, legislators and governors, and they could back out at any time. Adoption continued into 2012, and as of December 2013, 45 states have elected to use the Standards.

Implementing the CCSS
Once states opted into the Common Core, they began following their own implementation timelines. They began searching for curricula, updating technology needs and incorporating benchmarks, though each state did so in its own order. Some states even created their own aligned curricula. Teachers also underwent training to use the CCSS and ensure students would learn the required skills every year. Certain states even implemented math and English/language arts Standards at different times, starting with one grade level and then working toward using it in others.

The implementation period was scheduled to last from the time the states adopted the CCSS through the 2014-15 school year. As of June 2014, 43 states are using the Common Core.

A note on standardized testing
Along with the Common Core and aligned curricula, states had to develop an assessment that tests students' knowledge of educational benchmarks. In 2010, the U.S. Department of Education funded two separate standardized testing consortia composed of participating CCSS states: the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers. Each group set out to devise a standardized test aligned with the Common Core to be given every spring. 

Since the consortia's creation in 2010, both groups have made tests using the Standards as a guide. They have also run pilot tests, which took place in spring 2013 and 2014. Results from those exams and feedback from educators and the public helped the consortia revise the exams. The final versions of both are scheduled to be used in spring 2015. 

The Smarter Balanced assessment uses a dynamic testing system. It alters its difficulty based on how students are performing during the exam. The PARCC test is static, as each student gets the same difficulty level as everyone else in his or her grade.

Since its initial development, the Common Core has come a long way.