Successes and Challenges of the “New” College- and Career-Ready Standards: Seven Implementation Trends

This study identifies seven major trends in how states and districts are implementing college- and career-ready standards for general education students and for two special populations often the target of education policy—English language learners (ELLs) and students with disabilities (SWDs). We draw on state-representative teacher, principal, and district surveys in three states—Kentucky, Ohio, and Texas—and case studies in nine districts. We ground our study in the policy attributes framework, which suggests implementation is stronger the more specific, authoritative, powerful, consistent, and stable a policy is. We find states are being less prescriptive in their policies surrounding the standards and are including fewer or less forceful rewards and sanctions (power). Local districts are providing more detailed, standards-aligned professional development (specificity) and supporting materials to guide teachers’ standards implementation (consistency). Districts are using “softer” power mechanisms instead of the “strong” rewards and sanctions of earlier waves of reform. This results in higher buy-in (authority) but creates challenges for districts in providing the necessary supports for teachers. In ELL policy, two national organizations are providing much of the specificity and consistency for standards implementation, and they do this through mechanisms of authority rather than through power mechanisms. For SWDs, implementation support is focused on compliance, and the enduring tension between standardization and individuality persists. Creative district approaches and moderate to high levels of authority hold promise for this wave of college- and career-ready standards.

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Type: 
Research Report
Authors: 
Laura M. Desimone, Amy Stornaiuolo, Nelson Flores, Katie Pak, Adam Edgerton, T. Philip Nichols, Emily C. Plummer, Andrew Porter
Year of Publication: 
2019
Teaser: 

This study identifies seven major trends in how states and districts are implementing college- and career-ready standards for general education students and for two special populations often the target of education policy—English language learners (ELLs) and students with disabilities (SWDs).