Leadership for the Common Core: Urban Principals Respond

NAESP 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. Read the full brief here.

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.