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The challenges of implementing the Common Core
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 08, 2014 10:17 AM

Districts began implementing the Common Core State Standards in 2011, and the 2014-15 school year is supposed to wrap up that process. However, many schools believe they won't meet the expected deadline. According to a survey conducted by the Center on Education Policy, more than half of Common Core school districts think they won't hit all the major implementation milestones until 2014-15 or later. 

Facing challenges
The survey, which included responses from superintendents, drew from a nationally representative sample of 211 districts. Respondents noted that districts faced numerous challenges in implementing the Standards, which has slowed progress. Schools must find aligned curricula, train their teachers and discover ways to prepare students for new standardized tests. Furthermore, superintendents have experienced roadblocks in finding the resources needed to complete implementation milestones - between upgrading technology, training staff and purchasing curricula, the Common Core can cause districts to incur substantial costs.

"The survey results show that districts are clearly moving ahead with the Common Core, but are facing many challenges in implementing them," Diane Stark Rentner, CEP deputy director, said in a statement. "It is yet to be seen if districts can overcome these challenges, or, if as they indicate, more time is needed before the consequences tied to student performance on CCSS assessments take effect." 

Consequences of testing
Rentner hit on an important point in her statement: CCSS assessments will soon carry consequences. Student performance will reflect on individual teachers, schools and districts. Districts that perform well stand to receive more grant money, while poorly performing teachers may face uncomfortable reviews. Every educator, therefore, has a vested interest in not only implementing the Standards, but doing so carefully and well. Districts want to ensure teachers have the training they need and that students will internalize the new Standards. To do this, many say they'll need more time. In fact, the survey revealed that 90 percent of districts cite not having enough time as a major roadblock to Common Core implementation. 

Resistance presents obstacles
Not only do educators face challenges in meeting Common Core milestones, they must also contend with the opinions of parents, communities leaders and their peers. The report indicated that 34 percent of district leaders say overcoming resistance to the Common Core from the outside, which includes people like parents and other members of the community, is a major challenge. Another 39 percent say it's a minor challenge. Either way, having an informed public that supports schools would make implementation easier.