Common Core

State by State: How 8 key states are handling Common Core

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California – California was previously known for its high standards, but it adopted Common Core anyway. After years of budget cuts, the state is putting $1 billion into preparation for the switch. Districts have largely been left to their own devices, though. Frustrated at the slow pace of state implementation, a handful of districts have decided to step up implementation on their own.

Colorado – Colorado officials decided to create a hybrid between the Common Core and a set of its own new aggressive standards in 10 disciplines—including dance and music. But in a survey conducted by the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, Colorado educators said they are concerned about the cost and fidelity of implementing standards in multiple content areas.

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Florida – Once a leading proponent of the Common Core, the state has experienced a substantial series of setbacks in the past year. In 2012, Florida decided to drop a contract with a software company that was providing quizzes and lessons connected to the Common Core, leaving educators without a resource to prepare students and teachers for the standards less than a year away from implementation. And now it is considering backing out of Common Core-aligned online tests developed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers.

Kentucky – Kentucky is the first state to adopt the Common Core and the first state to test students using assessments aligned to those standards. As widely predicted, test scores dropped dramatically: from 76 to 48 percent in elementary school reading, for example. It’s not the first time the state has pioneered new standards and accountability. It piloted a similar education overhaul in the nineties that eventually fell apart because of implementation problems and a loss of political support. Educators around the country are watching to see if this effort will be more successful.

Louisiana – In November 2012, Louisiana became the first state to reject an entire slate of textbooks because they were not aligned with the Common Core. They include every math and reading textbook in the state’s most recent adoption cycle, among them bids from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, McGraw Hill and Pearson. The state has mostly left districts to their own devices when it comes to curriculum, though, and schools are relying on a mix of teachers, consultants and curricula from other states for new lesson plans.

New York – New York, along with Kentucky, became one of two states that have tested students according to the Common Core when it administered exams in April. Test scores dropped dramatically. The state is also unique in its creation of a set of state-sponsored Common Core curricula that schools have the option of adopting.  The materials are available online for free, a move that could upend the textbook publishing industry as districts and schools elsewhere weigh whether to use them instead of traditional curricula and textbooks.

Pennsylvania – In Pennsylvania, protests against the new standards prompted the state to replace the Common Core with a hybrid that blends the national guidelines with the state’s previous ones. Officials are also planning to require students to pass “Keystone exams” linked to the hybrid standards to graduate. But teachers are still mired in uncertainty because the policies aren’t set in stone until they go through Pennsylvania’s regulatory review process. Opponents of the standards on the right are still fighting to halt them in the House and Senate education committees. So are Keystone exam opponents on the left, worried about imposing high stakes on students without adequate resources to prepare them.

Tennessee – The state has faced a tsunami of change in recent years. It was one of the first to adopt and implement a value-added model for school and teacher effectiveness. It recently overhauled its teacher evaluation system. And it was one of the first two states to receive Race to the Top funding. This school year, it moves to full implementation of the Common Core. The state has provided extensive training for teachers, but it’s also facing a backlash from political opponents to the new standards.

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