This policy brief from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute presents advice on challenges to Common Core transitions. A research team from Fordham interviewed key policymakers and influentials in five states (Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Massachusetts, and New York) to gather information on how the states approached accountability in the transition to the Common Core. The interviews centered around questions on states’ plans for using student data during this transition period, and in particular what the “stakes” would be for schools, educators, and students. This policy brief describes the four trends emerged from the interviews.
This policy paper helps to highlight a substantial number of the key issues confronting states, school districts, and schools as they attempt to simultaneously implement the Common Core State Standards, or variations thereof, and prepare for the forthcoming Smarter Balanced and PARCC assessments. While the number of states involved in the study was limited to 5 and completely focused on PARCC states, the issues are likely to resonate across all locales if not even all schools. Among them are transitions from current state assessments to new ones, the use of assessment information to make high stakes decisions including teacher quality, the unknown quality and validity of the new assessments, NCLB and state accountability requirements in flux, adequacy of professional development, and the recent trend for states such as Florida to retreat from either the Common Core, the new assessments, or both. The length, quality, content, and utility of this document contribute to my recommendation that this is a "must read" or "near must read" publication for state, district and school leaders. Additionally, the information in the document was recently updated.