The Center’s CA Insights – 2017-18:
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.

Finding 1

District leaders, principals, and teacher leaders have different perceptions regarding who directs the vision for standards implementation at school sites.

Who’s Driving Standards Implementation

  • Compared to district leaders and principals, a greater share of teacher leaders believe that the district has sole control over standards implementation vision.
  • Of the three role groups, principals are the least likely to report that they direct standards implementation at their sites (18%). Greater shares of district leaders (28%) and teacher leaders (31%), however, are under the impression that they do.
  • Teacher leaders are more likely than district leaders and principals to report that teachers have control over standards implementation vision. By contrast, no district leaders or principals cited teachers as agents in implementation vision. The most frequent response from district leaders and principals was “Defined autonomy.”

Download the One-Pager

“We have at the district level defined what the instructional focus is and then what that looks like on an individual site basis, that’s fully up to the principal. What we’ve said is we’ve set the direction. This is where everybody needs to go but how you [the schools] get there is really up to you.”

– District Leader

Finding 2

For most districts, focusing on math and ELA standards implementation has come with some tradeoffs, such as deprioritizing the Next Generation Science Standards.

Priorities and Tradeoffs

  • Only 16 percent of respondents indicate that they have been able to push forward with standards implementation without making other adjustments to implementation timelines or related initiatives.
  • For others, tradeoffs can include delaying textbook adoptions, segmenting implementation by grade bands or subject areas, and taking more time to work with teachers to unpack the standards before going into full implementation.
  • 29 percent of districts say that in order to focus on math and ELA, they have paid less attention to other implementations, such as the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).
  • Only 2 percent of districts say that the focus on standards implementation has led them to de-emphasize teacher evaluation.

Download the One-Pager

“Our teachers did not have a strong feeling of liking one of the [textbook] adoptions, and so we chose to continue using our old text but modifying it and adding in a lot of online materials and other pieces that they find from other places and from our teacher created materials.”

– District Leader

“Science is getting the least attention. Social studies is the forgotten stepchild. Math is not getting as much attention and professional development.”

– District Leader

“Science [is on the] backburner. [There is] not enough time in the day to do all work.”

– District Leader

Finding 3

Rather than rely solely on assessment results to gauge implementation progress, district leaders most often report going into schools and classrooms to meet with and observe teachers directly.

Measuring Progress, Gaining System Learnings

  • Two thirds of district leaders say they use meetings and walkthroughs with teachers to gauge how their school sites are implementing the standards.
  • In contrast, only one third claim to use the Smarter Balanced assessments, suggesting a lack of confidence in the degree to which these tests can provide timely, accurate snapshots of implementation progress.
  • No respondents indicate that teacher evaluations are used to assess implementation.

Download the One-Pager

Examples of What Districts Are Learning as They Monitor Progress

1

Principal leadership is critical

“That’s where the priority was. To at least start with the principals and start with our school leadership teams that we have during the year. How do we help all of them leap forward?”

– District Leader

“[We] conduct instructional site visits at every school [with our principals]. [We] do classroom walkthroughs and talk about what professional learning looks like at each school, and how [the principals are] supporting the instructional focus and how they’re aligning their efforts in that way.”

– District Leader

2

Focus on teacher mastery and ownership

“That’s where the priority was. To at least start with the principals and start with our school leadership teams that we have during the year. How do we help all of them leap forward?”

– District Leader

“[We’ve learned] to involve teachers in the initial going and looking at the curriculum at the county office. [To] have a longer lead time with both piloting the materials and with developing the understanding in the rubrics for how we’re going to assess them.”

– District Leader

3

Adjust instructional practice to meet the needs of students at each site

“We are learning to provide a rigorous instructional program that really stretches students in order to increase their ability to think critically, create, collaborate, and communicate their ideas, both orally and in writing. This requires a true focus on application of learning rather than simply practicing learned skills.”

– District Leader

“We try not to take that for granted that we need to focus on our ELs, our migrants, our special education, foster youth – all those subgroups that we feel we’ve always done a pretty good job [with], but definitely there’s still room for growth.”

– District Leader

Share This