Red Flags on the Road to Common Core State Standards Reform

In this brief article published in Teacher's College Record, Ronald Gallimore and James Heibert, experts in the areas of teacher and school improvement, teacher preparation, and teacher practices, reflect on the challenges of Common Core State Standards implementation. Some challenges to implementing the CCSS include: aligning curriculum materials with the new standards; developing new forms of instruction to support the new learning; and getting students reading for new, more demanding assessments. Furthermore, Gallimore and Heibert state that “there is little appreciation that the final, decisive implementation step is teachers planning, trying out, and revising new lessons.” This final step is slow and uneven, but it is in these incremental steps that change occurs, and “evidence is mounting that incremental improvement is the best way to get lasting results.” Gallimore and Heibert caution that it will take years of collaboration between teachers and administrators to realize the full benefits of the CCSS.

Content Comments 

In this short article, Gallimore and Hiebert write, "the history of U.S. education reform shows implementation is always the most challenging phase." As experts in teacher practices and school improvement, Gallimore and Hiebert provide sound advice: that teachers need time to plan, try out, and revise lesson plans based on the new learning and skills required by the CCSS. By not giving teachers and administrators the time to incrementally build the type of work needed for sound implementation, the CCSS “will fall short of its worthy intentions.” While there is a push for quick implementation of the CCSS, this article shows that because of the types of challenges that are part of the CCSS, a more measured approach to implementation will best serve teachers and students. Although Gallimore and Hiebert do not cite specific research in this article to support their claims, their authority in the above areas should make everyone – from school and district administrators to state educators and policymakers to parents and the public – heed their message: it takes time to see the benefits of major reform movements in education, such as the CCSS.