Leadership for the Common Core: More Than One Thousand School Principals Respond

- Executive Summary

- Full Report

Leadership for the Common Core:  More Than One Thousand School Principals RespondEducators, parents, and other constituents are engaging in an important dialogue about Common Core State Standards that has ramifications for the future of K-12 curriculum content. Principals’ voices are essential to this national conversation because their leadership influences how the Common Core will be implemented in schools and classrooms. The National Association of Elementary School Principals’ Leadership for the Common Core survey provides a first look at principals’ attitudes, preparation, and strategies for addressing the Common Core. The survey was completed by 1,100 K-12 public school principals from 14 states that have adopted and are implementing the Common Core.

This brief summarizes respondent perspectives on Common Core State Standards implementation. The descriptive analysis of survey results of principals from the 14 states shows the following:

  • More than 80 percent are prioritizing the Common Core for school improvement and their own learning, and more than 60 percent set the Common Core as a top priority.
  • More than 80 percent agreed that the Common Core have potential to improve conceptual understanding, increase student skill mastery, and create more meaningful assessments of students.
  • 100 percent reported that they are participating in professional development focused on the Common Core; however, 70 percent reported that they were not provided professional development on budgeting or managing the Common Core change process.
  • More than 70 percent reported that they had enacted change processes in schools by engaging teachers, modifying assessments, and aligning curriculum, yet less than one half of the respondents reported that they had upgraded curriculum materials or technology to support long-term Common Core implementation.
  • More than 70 percent had not taken action to integrate the Common Core into expanded learning opportunities, special education programs, or English-language learner programs, which provide important services to students.

For state and national leaders, survey findings provide insight into principals’ current beliefs, knowledge, and actions with respect to the Common Core. With this information, national leaders may consider ways to support principals as instructional leaders and change agents through policy changes and professional supports.

Leadership for the Common Core: Urban Principals Respond

- Executive Summary

- Full Report

The Common Core State Standards have become law in 45 states, the District of Columbia, and three territories. Consequently, school principals have initiated change processes to ensure that the new standards are represented in both curricula and instruction. National organizations, states, and districts have provided information resources, professional development, and other resources to educators in an effort to hasten Common Core implementation. The National Association of Elementary School Principals received 1,100 responses to a survey of all public school principals in 14 states regarding Common Core implementation to gauge their support for the policy efforts, assess their preparation to implement change processes, and identify gaps in support that might be addressed by policies and programs. Nearly one-half (463) of the principals who responded to the survey were from urban districts.

This brief summarizes the perspectives from urban school principals on implementing the Common Core State Standards. We focus on urban school principals because, in many ways, the schools that these principals serve are at the vanguard of Common Core implementation. In part, national and state organizations provide additional resources and attention because of the historical inequalities in educational access experienced by students in urban districts. Policymakers view the Common Core as one tool of many that urban districts and schools might use to improve student access to instructional opportunities and programs and reduce variation in instructional quality within and across schools, districts, and states.

According to the Leadership for the Common Core survey, of the 463 urban principals who responded, the following can be said:

  • More than 90 percent of urban principals have set the Common Core State Standards as a priority for their schools and their own professional learning.
  • All (100 percent) of the urban principals participated in professional development on the Common Core in the past two years, and 46.2 percent participated in five or more trainings.
  • Slightly more than one-half of the urban principals (between 53 percent and 64 percent) agreed that the Common Core State Standards hold potential for achieving their intended purpose as described by the Council for Chief State School Officers, and slightly more than one-half of the urban principals believed that the Common Core would ensure equivalent student learning expectations for all students.
  • About one-third of the urban principals felt that they were not fully prepared to evaluate teacher performance on Common Core implementation or ensure aligned programs were in place for students who struggle academically.
  • About 40 percent of the urban principals believed that they are underprepared to budget for long-term Common Core implementation, integration, and support.
  • More than two-thirds of the urban principals reported that they have adjusted school improvement priorities, allocated teacher professional development time, modified student assessments, and changed mathematics curricula to reflect the Common Core.
  • Less than one-half of the urban principals have been able to purchase new curricular materials for the Common Core or integrate the standards with expanded learning opportunities in their schools.