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What do you hope to learn from the first round of Common Core Assessments?

Where the gaps are, whether we are on the right track, and how to strengthen instruction.

 Keeping It Relevant
Terri Cox-Cruey: "The state of Kentucky adopted a Senate bill in 2009 that forced us to take a look at college and career readiness," says Cox-Cruey, superintendent at Kenton County School District . "So we've been working on this for a couple of years, cross-walking between the Common Core State Standards and our previous curriculum.

"The main anchor that we used to prepare our teachers was the Literacy Design Collaborative framework that we learned through Gates Foundation sponsorship. That curriculum asked our teachers to really focus on what our students are doing-what are they researching, what are they writing about, can they synthesize, can they apply? The curriculum is more robust, more relevant-how you would actually apply it in the real world-so it makes sense to integrate it into other content to build those knowledge and skills.

"This has been a progression over the past few years of getting to the point where we feel we're one to two years ahead of some other districts who maybe waited until the assessment was going to be implemented.

"I'm hoping that we're excelling, that we're right on track with what we've been planning to do for a few years now. The bottom line is we want all of our students performing where they need to be in order to be successful when they leave us with a college or career path. That's the ultimate goal with everything we're doing."

Top of the Curve
Jim Rollins: "I think we're moving along the learning curve very positively," says Rollins, superintendent at Springdale Public Schools in Arkansas.

"Two years ago, we implemented the new standards in kindergarten, then began to roll them out incrementally across the elementary and secondary schools. We continue to get information on the development of the new standards on a daily basis.

"We will quickly determine if there's a significant gap in the content that we delivered previously versus what's expected with the new standards. I expect there will be significant growth for us with a number of new learning expectations. The test will tell us where we need to refocus and how to strengthen our instruction.

"I don't think any of us are going to know absolutely where we are until we experience the new assessments for a year or so. What we're interested in is good, sound data. We'll have a much better feel for how our students are prepared to compete internationally.

"Literacy and math have been our focus at this point. In the future, we'll see the standards in science and social studies rolled out. Our student population is highly diverse. We have a large percentage of children who live in poverty. We know our children can respond, especially if we do our work well. Our teachers and administrators are absolutely committed to continuous improvement."

Identifying the Gaps
Mary Ann Hardebeck: "Our district is preparing itself for Common Core," says Hardebeck, superintendent at Eau Claire Area School District in Wisconsin.

"We're working through our professional learning communities to align the various curricula so we know what and how kids should learn with the standards. We've been looking at developing assessments for various subjects so we have some baseline data to see whether or not our students have learned what we have proposed to teach.

"We're starting to look at how we will work with teachers in the implementation of the Core, probably through educator effectiveness assessments. We're also making sure that our elementary students are well versed in keyboarding, and we're in the process of a technology rollout.

"With the first round of tests, we'll get some baseline data. It will help us identify strengths and also identify areas of student need. We certainly want to see that our students are achieving and that teachers are preparing them for Common Core. But we know from work we've done thus far with alignment with Common Core that there may be gaps. That first round of assessments will help us better identify where those gaps might be.

"Our school board established a vision for postsecondary success for all students. What that means is that every child is college- and career-ready. The Common Core has helped focus our work in attaining that vision."

PD is Key
Alex Apostle: "We are working diligently to prepare for the Common Core," says Apostle, superintendent at Missoula County Public Schools in Montana.

"We believe professional development is key, making sure that as we move toward the Common Core initiative, our staff and students are prepared.

"We're striving to make that a priority in our school district, not only in terms of the Common Core, but overall, from professional learning communities to various academic programs that we're initiating. Professional development is a very important aspect of our district. So we're moving the agenda toward the Common Core but providing the best possible PD for our teachers and communicating with our community on what Common Core is all about.

—Winter 2014—

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