Implementation of the Common Core State Standards

Recommendations for the Department of Defense Education Activity Schools

by Anna Rosefsky Saavedra, Jennifer L. Steele

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Research Questions

  1. What should the Department of Defense Education Activity consider as it implements the Common Core State Standards?

The Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) recently joined 45 states, the District of Columbia, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands in adopting the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), implementation of which requires a transition of curriculum, instruction, professional development, and assessments from the current system of standards to a new one that promotes higher-order thinking and communication skills. In light of this adoption, the authors draw on prior literature on the implementation of large-scale educational reforms to frame CCSS implementation in terms of eight core tasks, each tailored to the DoDEA context. These tasks are based on a synthesis of scale-up efforts from 15 diverse, large-scale reforms.

Key Findings

The Department of Defense Education Activity Can Adapt Lessons Learned from States' Implementation of the Common Core State Standards

  • DoDEA has recently joined 45 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands in adopting the CCSS, implementation of which will require a transition of curriculum, instruction, assessments, and professional development from the current system of standards to a new system that promotes higher-order thinking and communication skills.
  • In light of this adoption, we draw on prior literature on the implementation of large-scale educational reforms to frame the work of CCSS implementation in terms of eight core tasks, each tailored to the DoDEA context: (1) Develop and provide support for implementation, (2) ensure high-quality implementation at each site, (3) evaluate and improve the intervention, (4) obtain the financial support needed, (5) build organizational capacity to support scale-up, (6) market the product, (7) create approaches to meet local context needs, and (8) sustain the reform over time.
  • These tasks are based on a RAND synthesis of scale-up efforts from 15 diverse, large-scale reforms.

Recommendations

  • The authors of this paper suggest that, as it implements the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) consider developing and providing implementation-specific supports to its schools. Support may include school- and DoDEA-level implementation teams, an implementation timeline, crosswalk documents, communication plans, and membership in an assessment consortium. Other critical support activities include translating crosswalks into concrete curriculum plans and providing CCSS-aligned professional development.
  • DoDEA should consider ensuring high-quality implementation at each site. Strategies may include institutional self-assessments, external site visits, and surveys.
  • DoDEA should consider collecting student performance data to evaluate and improve its CCSS implementation.
  • DoDEA should consider creating a comprehensive budget to correspond with the timeline of activities and performance goals.
  • DoDEA should consider building organizational capacity to support CCSS implementation efforts.
  • DoDEA should consider ongoing promotion of the principles of the CCSS reform to school staff, parents, and the general public.
  • DoDEA should consider balancing standardization of CCSS implementation with the needs of teachers and students in different national and international contexts.
  • DoDEA should consider developing processes that support institutionalization of CCSS implementation over time, with the ultimate goal of transferring CCSS ownership from DoDEA to schools and teachers.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    The Common Core State Standards and the Current Status of Their Implementation

  • Chapter Three

    Gaps Between Current Systems and Common Core State Standards Implementation

  • Chapter Four

    Existing Guidelines for Implementing the Common Core State Standards

  • Chapter Five

    A Reform Framework for Implementing the Common Core State Standards Within the Department of Defense Education Activity

  • Chapter Six

    Summary of Findings and Recommendations

The research described in this report was conducted within the Forces and Resources Policy Center of the RAND National Defense Research Institute, a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the Unified Combatant Commands, the Navy, the Marine Corps, the defense agencies, and the defense Intelligence Community.

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