The Southern Regional Education Board is conducting a multi-year study of how 14 states are implementing the Common Core State Standards. The topic of this report (one of the six benchmarking reports on CCSS implementation progress in 14 states) is Timeline and Approach to Standards and Assessments. This report provides state profiles on “the basic decisions and actions that state education policy-makers…are taking to foster successful statewide implementation of the new standards and aligned assessments” (p. 1). The profiles found in this report provide a descriptive overview of each state’s implementation efforts. Information from these profiles was gathered from a review of publicly available information and interviews with department leaders.
The goals of this publication are nicely described in the opening paragraphs; however, the methodology used, largely state self-reported answers to specific questions as well as interviews with state officials, lack rigor and validation. The methods for the selection of approximately half of the states as exemplary models for implementation of Common Core State Standards and assessments to measure them is unclear. It is also unclear how or why the 15 states covered in this report were selected. The publication's design makes for a fairly easy read; however, much of the text comes across as though it was written by a state department of education itself. Here is one example from Kentucky, an exemplary state: "Regarding the technology infrastructure for administering online assessments, Kentucky already utilizes online testing. Through its Continuous Instructional Improvement Technology System (CIITS) Web portal, the department offers its high school QualityCore end-of-course exams online for voluntary district use." This paragraph gives the impression that Kentucky is ready for technology-based assessments, but a closer read indicates that this applies to voluntary high school exams, with no mention of elementary or middle schools, or whether these end of course exams are very simple multiple-choice questions or more complex questions included in Smarter Balanced or PARCC. Users may find helpful information in this report; however, the rapid number of states withdrawing from consortia and developing their own assessments, or even withdrawing from the Common Core such as Oklahoma, combined with the above mentioned factors, may date this report quite quickly. No evidence of effectiveness on learning is provided, but that of course was not its purpose.