Where We Are and Where We're Going

“Give us the tools and the space to make college- and career-ready standards work.”

That is the call of teachers, parents, principals, superintendents, school board members and specialized educators as they look at both the challenges of implementing such standards and the successes that are unfolding in schools and districts across the country.

Educators believe that the high expectations these standards set are met when implementation of the standards is effectively managed. They are frustrated by the political noise and lack of support that surround their work and hinder their ability to help students succeed. And they want to maintain momentum and move forward. They believe that constantly changing demands on students, teachers and schools are distracting from the important work that they are doing.

What needs to be done to help schools move forward in their work to make all students college- and career-ready?

Over four weeks this spring, the Learning First Alliance convened a “Practitioner Think Tank” to answer this question. The Think Tank consisted of a cross-section of education practitioners: teachers, principals, school counselors, parents, technology directors, superintendents, teacher educators, school board members and other ground-level educators nominated by the organizations that make up the Alliance. Each offered what they believe it will take to ensure that the promise of college- and career-ready standards is met. Thirty practitioners from across the United States were nominated; approximately twenty participated in a series of conference calls exploring specific issues related to standards implementation—as well as more generally what is working, what should change, and the policies needed for the 2016 – 2017 school year. A summary of their discussions was then presented to a group of government relations specialists representing Alliance member organizations, who considered it in the context of the current political environment and shared their thoughts on specific issues that could be targeted to help move work forward.  

This report, "Where We Are and Where We're Going," represents the outcome of that process. It includes information on the contextual factors that educators recognize have led us to where we are now; the status of schools and districts regarding key issues identified by the discussants as necessary for successful implementation of college- and career-ready standards; and actions needed to position educators for success in the coming school year.

The main recommendations for moving forward are to:

  • Continue to move forward with college- and career-ready standards on a realistic timeframe and with the supports needed to allow students and teachers to successfully adapt the standards;
  • Emphasize each individual child in instructional decisions;
  • Expand communications efforts with the public and government officials and show how the standards are improving graduates’ readiness for college and careers;
  • Continue to expand and support collaboration between teacher preparation programs and PK-12 programs;
  • Expand targeted professional development for all educators;
  • Redesign assessment and accountability systems to ensure they provide useful information for students and educators and accurately reflect the progress that students, schools and districts are making.

Download the four-page brief here.

Download the full report here.