2017 – 2018

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About the Center’s CA Insights Research

Now in its third year, the goal of The Center’s CA Insights project is to share educators’ insights into California State Standards implementation with California education and policy leaders. We speak with teacher leaders, principals, and district leaders to learn how standards implementation is going.

CA Insights Domains

Each domain represents an aspect of California State Standards Implementation that we spoke with teacher leaders, principals, and district leaders about.


In the Funding domain, we hear from district leaders about how they find and use the money needed to support California State Standards implementation at their sites. Based on their responses, we unpack key dimensions of implementation funding including funding sources and funding stability.

Implementation Approach & Vision

The Implementation Approach & Vision domain captures how districts have managed the transition from awareness to implementation of the California standards. Who leads the vision for standards implementation at school sites? What are their priorities? How is progress measured? This section provides answers to these questions and reveals the choices that district leaders make in the course of implementation.

Professional Learning

In the Professional Learning domain, we focus on professional learning opportunities — both formal and informal — that advance educators’ understanding and application of the California State Standards. Here, district leaders, principals, and teacher leaders describe the kinds of professional learning they receive and provide, and how those experiences vary in approach, frequency, and adequacy. In addition, we highlight the key role that teacher leaders play.

Instructional materials

Instructional materials play an essential part in linking strong instructional practice with the knowledge and skills expectations of the California State Standards. Districts must make important decisions regarding which materials are best aligned to the rigors of the standards. In this domain, we hear from district leaders, principals, and teacher leaders on how the complex process of instructional materials adoption continues to unfold in California schools.


Managing the change process in schools — moving from “business as usual” to site-wide buy-in of new standards — requires complex shifts in pedagogy and mindset. Leaders understand that schools cannot be expected to do it alone. But how do educators feel about the support they receive? The KEY STATE AND DISTRICT SUPPORTS domain explores how district leaders, principals, and teacher leaders perceive supports from all levels of the system.

Instructional Shifts

Shifting instructional practice is central to improving teaching and learning. When given structured opportunities to reflect upon what the standards mean for their own practice, teachers are better equipped to shift instruction and affect standards implementation. In the Instructional Shifts domain, district leaders, principals, and teacher leaders observe how their teachers navigate this process at the classroom level. As one principal put it, “It’s making teachers go from being presenters to teachers again.”

Spotlight on NGSS

Over the course of this year’s research cycle, we’ve unpacked the landscape of California State Standards implementation by examining key drivers of implementation such as Funding, Professional Learning, and Instructional Shifts. Now, we look across those domains to explore how districts are approaching implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards. As we learn in this domain, NGSS implementation on the whole is still proceeding slowly, as district capacity lags behind the state’s planned timeline.

Implementation Is Iterative

Our chief takeaways from three years of research: Implementation isn’t simple or linear. Implementation is iterative, recursive, and never-ending: The reality that implementation is iterative calls for a more nuanced and appreciative view of the complexity of implementation; an acknowledgment that the adult learning process will continue to unfold in the years ahead; and a willingness to let go of short-term expectations, instead allowing schools and districts the time to build and iterate upon the real progress they have already made.


Methodology & Demographics

Now in its third year of data collection and analysis, The Center for the Future of Teaching & Learning’s Insights into California State Standards Implementation applies rigorous methods and systematic triangulation of data sources to present a representative portrait of how California schools and districts are implementing state standards in math, ELA, and science.

About the Staff and Contributors

Francesca Delgado

Francesca Delgado

Francesca led the design and coordination of the district interview and focus groups projects; as well as conducted district interviews and focus group analysis.
Reino Makkonen

Reino Makkonen

Reino led analysis of the California results from RAND’s American Teacher Panel survey for WestEd and this site.

Gary Mobley

Gary Mobley

Gary contracted with the Center to conduct district leader interviews and district leader interview analysis.
Clay Willis

Clay Willis

Clay led content development, website development and dissemination strategy for these studies.

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