Center for American Progress

RELEASE: Teacher Leadership Is the Foundation of Common Core Success, New CAP Report Shows
Press Release

RELEASE: Teacher Leadership Is the Foundation of Common Core Success, New CAP Report Shows

New CAP Report Highlights Teachers Who Are Driving Common Core Success in School Districts Across the United States

Washington, D.C. — While the Common Core started as a local, collaborative effort, the standards have become a political football, muffling the voices of those tasked with the work of implementing the standards. A new report from the Center for American Progress highlights how school administrators, teachers, and educator unions are at the heart of successful efforts to implement the standards in school districts across the United States.

CAP’s report, issued in partnership with the Teacher Union Reform Network, or TURN, looks at how successful labor-management collaboration to implement the standards is taking place in school districts in Baltimore, Maryland; Georgetown, Ohio; Glendale Heights, Illinois; San Diego, California; Carmichael, California; and Reno, Nevada. Today, CAP hosted American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, as well as a panel of experts and teacher leaders, to discuss the report.

“When teachers have support and a leading role in the implementation of the Common Core, school districts have seen success with the rollout of the standards,” said Carmel Martin, Executive Vice President for Policy at CAP. “When it comes to implementing college- and career-ready standards the right way, it’s clear that a collaborative approach—involving teachers and school administrators—is a winning strategy.”

“We know that collaboration between labor and management, while not a silver bullet, is an essential tool that builds a culture of trust. In this report, CAP and TURN have shown us that collaboration is an important precursor to successful implementation of the Common Core standards—and that means ensuring that teachers have a voice in how the standards are rolled out, a role in developing and selecting curricula and instructional resources, and the time to make them work with colleagues in classrooms,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers. “More than three years into Common Core implementation, the districts in this study stand in stark contrast to places where a top-down, high-stakes fixated approach still dominates. In those districts, too many kids are being denied access to the critical thinking, teamwork, and problem-solving skills Common Core was supposed to be about.”

CAP’s report shows how teachers are assuming significant leadership roles and engaging in key decisions about how to implement the standards every day in their schools—and in doing so, paving the way to a smooth transition to the Common Core. Although much of the debate has focused on the negative brand attached to Common Core—which largely stems from political gamesmanship—CAP’s research shows that progress is being made, with ample reason to believe that Common Core implementation will ultimately be successful.

The report’s authors visited the districts highlighted in the report and found common characteristics in districts where teachers are empowered to lead the rollout of the new standards. These districts had collaborative environments that afforded teachers the opportunity to take real ownership over their practice and offered leadership opportunities to teachers, including:

  • Teachers involved in district- and school-level governance
  • Teachers on Special Assignment working for the district or union to support practicing teachers
  • Teachers in leadership roles who still actively practice in the classroom

Through these leadership opportunities, the authors saw that teachers were able to have an active role within the district in the following ways:

  • Creating and leading professional-development opportunities to direct their own learning
  • Utilizing time for collaboration and allowing teachers to determine how this time will be used
  • Writing, developing, and choosing instructional materials aligned to the Common Core

CAP uses these lessons to provide a series of recommendations for districts that are currently at work implementing the Common Core standards, including the creation of teacher leadership roles at the classroom, school, and district levels; allocating time for teachers to collaborate; creating systems for embedded teacher professional development; and giving teachers an active role in the selection and development of Common Core instructional materials.

Click here to read “Teacher Leadership: The Pathway to Common Core Success” by Andrew Amore, Nichole M. Hoeflich, and Kaitlin Pennington

For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, contact Allison Preiss at [email protected] or 202.478.6331.