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New! Research Brief on Massachusetts' Implementation of Standards

Tuesday, June 4, 2019
College- and Career-Readiness
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 Massachusetts 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. Teachers call the shots when it comes to curriculum. To implement common curricula, districts are addressing teacher autonomy in a few ways. Some have included teachers in the vetting and implementation process. Some have paid teachers to develop supplementary materials on top of a district-wide purchased curriculum. In some districts, educators are adopting what they like and ditching what they don’t. (In high school, for instance, there is resistance to common curricula and a preference for subject-matter specificity. In one instance, five nearby districts have partnered to create a common scope and sequence for elementary and middle school curriculum.)

  • 2. Assessing English learners. In general, district leaders disagree with the policy that requires English learners to take the state’s Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) exam after one year of being enrolled in a district. Educators and leaders—especially those at the middle-school level—say the students still struggle to read. They suggest a combination of more instructional supports, less frequent tests, and a “beginner version” of the MCAS to provide a more precise measure of growth.

  • 3. A second chance at professional development. Many districts saw the state’s 2017 revision of its stare standards as an opportunity to reboot their professional development (PD) efforts. One district seeks to model best learning practices by providing teachers to reflect on and apply what they’ve learned in PD. In one example, a small group of teachers create a lesson plan that one teacher then immediately applies in their class. Colleague observe and provide in-the-moment feedback.

Read the brief.