Professional Learning

Implementation of the ELA Common Core State Standards Across the Country

December 2, 2011

Brenda Overturf is a member of the International Reading Association's Board of Directors. You can reach her at boverturf[AT]reading[DOT]org.

This is the final post in a three-part series that examines the English Language Arts Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Part one introduced CCSS and provided context for those new to the standards. Part two reviewed the key features that offer opportunities for educators to transform their teaching. In part three, we will take a look at how various states are starting to implement the standards.

States across the country are in varying stages of adopting and implementing the CCSS. To date, 46 states have formally adopted the ELA CCSS, while four (Alaska, Texas, Nebraska and Virginia) have chosen not to adopt or are in the process. A current diagram showing state adoptions is available on the Common Core website. Each state may add an additional 15% to the standards content based on its own interests and/or to meet state legal requirements. Some states have chosen to include this extra 15 percent, while others have not.

Currently, there are also state consortiums developing assessment systems aligned with the CCSS. The two primary groups are the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC). Both consortiums are planning to pilot the new assessments in 2013-14, with full implementation in 2014-15. These assessment systems focus on grades 3 and higher, with discussions about both formative assessments to guide instruction and summative assessments to monitor yearly progress.

In September, The Center on Education Policy released a report titled Common Core State Standards: Progress and Challenges in School Districts' Implementation to provide data on how districts are starting to implement the standards. Based on an early 2011 survey of districts in states adopting the CCSS, the report findings include, among other data:

  • 57 percent agreed or strongly agreed the ELA CCSS will be more rigorous than current state standards
  • 58 percent agreed or strongly agreed the ELA CCSS will lead to improved student skills
  • 48 percent of districts are providing professional development in 2011-12
  • 88 percent of districts have educators participating in regional or state meetings introducing the CCSS and 66 percent in meetings on implementing the CCSS

These percentages suggest many states are already actively engaged in preparing to implement the standards.

Some states are using online platforms for disseminating information and videos on best practices associated with the standards, such as New York and Illinois. Other states, such as Tennessee, are targeting community members to assist in support new education efforts.

Taking Leadership

In October, the National Governors Association released a document offering suggestions on how governors can lead efforts for implementation of the standards. This document gives examples of how various states are preparing for curriculum and instructional changes in order to implement the standards. For example, North Dakota is planning a statewide effort to create templates and instructional guides, rather than placing these responsibilities on local school districts. In California, there are new curriculum guides to describe what students should know when entering each grade level between kindergarten and sixth grade.

Based on a state legislative mandate for major reforms in education, Kentucky has already engaged in numerous planning sessions and has started implementing the CCSS in 2011-12. (For further reading, please download the PDF "Kentucky Leads the U.S. in Implementing Common Core Standards" from by Brenda Overturf, 2011.) Kentucky was the first state to adopt the CCSS and create Leadership Networks of relevant stakeholders from school districts, higher education and government. These collaborative networks are heavily involved in the process of planning lessons, creating units, developing courses and assessment.

Throughout this series, we have provided background information for educators and parents who want to know more about the ELA Common Core State Standards. Every day, more and more educators are joining the conversations and collaborations as each state grapples with planning and implementing this new initiative. The information available on electronic forums will continue to grow and expand, making it easier for educators across states to communicate and share ideas.

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