As states, districts, and schools implement the Common Core State Standards, a new resource to help them with the change process is available from The Achievement Network (ANet), an OII Investing in Innovation (i3) grantee. Focusing on the How: Guidance for School and District Leaders on Supporting Teachers Through the Transition to the Common Core addresses the uncertainty that educators may have about the transition to the Common Core.
Educators’ traditional sources of stability and direction are undergoing change as they implement the content changes associated with Common Core. It is “time-tested routines,” according to ANet, that can provide an infrastructure for implementing the new standards. These include “consistent, collaborative routines for planning from standards, evaluating student progress, and adapting instruction based on student needs.”
ANet, a nonprofit that helps schools strengthen their practice and culture of using standards and data to accelerate student learning in underserved communities, drew on the experiences of its 475 partner schools nationwide to create three rubrics — for school leaders, teachers, and school structures — designed to help schools implement strong planning and data routines. The rubrics set out practices that have been shown to drive results for students; schools, for example, regularly incorporate time throughout the school year for teacher collaboration and planning, and are then clear about the expected outcomes of that time.
A case study explains how school leaders at Powell Elementary School in the District of Columbia are evolving their focus on each of the three sets of routines outlined in the rubrics and providing needed professional development support for Powell’s teachers to implement the Common Core. The guide also provides stories about two schools in Boston and the Springfield (Mass.) Public Schools that drill down on each of the three rubrics to describe how they have used these practices to implement the Common Core. “We are sharing the perspective of school leaders and what’s working across our network,” said John Maycock, ANet’s co-founder and president, “to better support a successful Common Core transition for all schools.”
The Springfield and District of Columbia public schools are among five districts participating in ANet’s i3 grant project, Improving Data Use in Schools: Expanding The Achievement Network Model. This i3 grant supports expansion in four of ANet’s nine geographic school networks — D.C., Illinois, Louisiana, and Massachusetts — serving 25,000 of ANet’s 140,000 students nationwide. Begun in 2010, the i3 Development project is supporting schools in these regions to embed data tools and practices into the daily work of schools to drive increases in achievement for high-needs students. The project is also evaluating its impact on student achievement by use of an experimental-design study. Based on the evaluation, ANet plans to identify and share effective practices in the use of data to increase student achievement.
OII’s i3 fund supports innovative practices that are demonstrated to have an impact on improving student achievement or student growth, closing achievement gaps, decreasing dropout rates, increasing high school graduation rates, or increasing college enrollment and completion rates. Earlier this month, the Department announced that the 25 highest-rated applicants for the fourth round of the i3 program competition secured private-sector matching funds and will be awarded approximately $134 million.