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Common core is here – now what?
The Common Core State Standards have been adopted by the state of California and the majority of the other states, so now what? This qualitative study examines the implementation process of the new standards by looking at how principals are leading their staffs through the process, what leadership strategies are the most effective during this change, what shifts in teaching practice are necessary to support the new standards, and what teachers are doing to prepare their students for the new Smarter Balanced standardized testing. Three principals from three different schools were interviewed and a six-person focus group of two teachers from each of the same three schools was conducted to identify lessons from the implementation process of the new standards. Four categories and themes within these categories emerged from the data. These categories include the necessary shifts in teaching practice (the move from lecturer to facilitator of learning, incorporating technology in the classroom, and writing across the curriculum), the leadership needs during the implementation process (providing time for teachers to plan and collaborate, providing Common Core aligned professional development opportunities, and having open communication), the successes so far in the process (increased collaboration among staff and students, increase in students’ critical thinking skills, and the trainings that have been offered), and the challenges that the educators are experiencing (lack of Common Core aligned materials, lack of time to plan and collaborate, and preparing students for the new standardized assessments – SBAC).