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New! Research Brief on California’s Implementation of Standards

Tuesday, June 4, 2019
College- and Career-Readiness
Common Core State Standards
English Language Learners
Standards Implementation
Students with Disabilities

How are districts in different states implementing college- and career-readiness (CCR) standards? The Center on Standards, Alignment, Instruction, and Learning (C-SAIL), has partnered with California, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Ohio, and Texas to find out. In a new brief, we focus on implementation in six California districts.

Drawing on both interviews and surveys, the research brief is organized by five focus areas: Curriculum, professional development, assessments, students with disabilities (SWDs), and English learners (EL).

Among the key takeaways:

  • 1. Tension between special-education and general-education teachers. Similar to Massachusetts, California districts noted tension between special education teachers and general education teachers. In this case, it’s about getting them to come together and “share the needs of all students with each other.” One district notes that is the “biggest roadblock” to providing students with disabilities with a great education.

  • 2. Assessing English learners. Just two of six districts in California agreed that the standards were “completely appropriate” for English learners.

  • 3. Curricula as a guide. Districts are sending a consistent message to schools to “exercise their judgement in making curricular decisions, reasoning that no curriculum will perfectly match each particular classroom context.” The message has resonated. One district rejected textbooks claiming to be “Common Core-aligned” and instead had teachers develop units of study, which allowed them to engage deeply with the standards. Even districts that purchased curricula said they “emphasize teachers’ flexibility” when implementing.

  • 4. Instructional shifts are a work in progress. In the early years of standards implementation, there was not a big focus on training; in recent years, “a lack of funding” has stifled long-term teacher development initiatives. Areas of improvement include differentiating instructionmoving away from direct instruction and toward “more student-centered, skills-focused spirit of the Common Core.”

  • 5. Innovations related to serving students with disabilities.

  • —Digital resources: One district developed an online bank of standards-aligned individualized education program for special education teachers.

  • —Communities of practice: One district created a one-year fellowship program for special education teachers in reading instruction. The fellowship includes Saturday sessions throughout the year, videotaped lessons, and timely feedback and reflection.

  • —Early intervention: A summer literacy camp for struggling students in grades K-3.

Read the brief.