In the Implementation Approaches domain, we hear from district leaders about when, how and with what resources they undertook the implementation of standards. Our findings reveal a great diversity of implementation approaches and some important trends across the 45 districts we spoke with.

The findings on this page

Districts have implemented the math and ELA standards on very different timelines— some starting as early as 2011 and others as recently as 2016.

School District Implementation Timeline

What year did you start your math and ELA standards implementation?

Key Takeaways

  • Most districts are in at least their third year of implementation.
  • About a fifth of districts began implementation in the 2011-2012 school year, one year after the State Board adopted the new standards.
  • Almost half of districts implemented ELA standards in school years 2011–2012 and 2012-2013, while near half began math implementation in school years 2013-2014 and 2014-2015.
  • With the science standards, districts interviewed were at the awareness stage at best.

“That was one of the things we decided, is to not roll it out by grade levels, but instead to do a districtwide [rollout]. And to start this with English Language Arts because that impacts students across all subjects. It would be probably overwhelming to people, particularly elementary teachers, to try and do language arts and math at the same time. It also gave us time for me to make sure we had a really good math TOSA [teacher on special assignment] available to help out as I watched people training.”
–District Leader

How have you sequenced your ELA and math standards implementation?

If you phased implementation, what was your approach?

Most districts considered adopting new instructional practices a key approach for supporting the new standards.

School District Key Implementation Approaches

What were the key implementation approaches you took to support the adoption of the new standards?

Adopting New Instructional Practices

“We had our academic coaches plan and deliver the professional development… to create a common understanding and framework for the instruction shifts.”
–District Leaders

Developing Instructional Units

“We decided to take the old materials [in use] since 2002. Take specific stories and things from those materials and create an integrated unit with the other subject areas that were all Common Core standards-based.”
–District Leader

Changing Organizational Structure

“Organizationally we set up a Common Core steering committee that started to guide the changes that we needed to make roughly two years before Common Core [took effect]. The Common Core committee has now morphed into an instructional leadership council.”
–District Leader

Adopted Curriculum

“Grade level leads look[ed] at the standards, analyzing and comparing [them] with performance data and adopted a Math curriculum. After work with teachers later to look at ELA with ELD focus, [we] pulled in the county consultants to develop thematic units, creating pacing guides.”
–District Leader

Deferred Curriculum Adoption

“[Did we adopt new curriculum?] We did not. We did use some open-source materials, and of course we used the content experts from our county to help with the sequencing and the alignment for those curriculum maps we were developing.”
–District Leader

Districts rely on a wide variety of both sustained and one-time sources to fund the training and ongoing support of teachers.

Implementation Funding Sources

What funding sources are you using to support teachers in the implementation of standards?

Key Takeaways

  • Districts have been using one-time funding to pay for professional development, starting with the Common Core State Standards Implementation Funds, and recently the Teacher Effectiveness Grant.
  • The former has already been exhausted and the latter will most likely be depleted by the next calendar year, at best, for most districts using them.
  • Some districts do not have a healthy enough General Fund to support ongoing training for standards implementation.
  • Districts with large free and reduced price lunch populations are using supplemental concentration money for teacher professional development to support standards implementation.

“Academic Coaches [are] LCAP funded. We are struggling to decide a path forward… we do believe we’re going to have to reduce the amount of academic coaches.”
–District Leader

“No shortages of funding because it is a high poverty district and does not fear losing ICs. Funding is not an issue. If funding gets cut, ICs would be last to be cut.”
–District Leader

“Our Title I is pretty much sucked up by our aides, our MAPS data program, [and] tutoring. I pay for part of my bilingual aide from that. Title III goes to that. We only get like $2,000 [in] Title III. It’s almost worth not using it, but we do… It all pretty much gets sucked up pretty quick on support staff.”
–District Leader

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