Regional Leadership Sessions on Common Core State Standards Implementation

School districts across California have begun working to implement the Common Core State Standards and to prepare for California’s new assessments.  Policy Analysis for California Education ( and California County Superintendents Educational Services Association ( are pleased to sponsor six regional leadership sessions on CCSS Implementation. These meetings will introduce you to a variety of strategies, tools and resources that your district can use to support successful implementation of the CCSS.  The sessions will feature local examples of effective implementation, along with strategic advice on key issues including:

  • Professional development for teachers
  • Messaging and communications
  • Investments in technology

The PACE/CCSESA sessions will be hosted by County Offices of Education in six regions of California, and broadcast live statewide.  Space is strictly limited, so please act now to register for these important meetings.  Just click on the session you would like to attend or stream to register, and to find additional information about each regional meeting.  Join school board members, district and union leaders from your region to learn more about the successful implementation of the Common Core State Standards.

2020 Vision: Rethinking Budget Priorities Under the LCFF

Year of publication: 
April 2014
Policy Analysis for California Education

After years of painful budget cuts, new revenues will begin to flow to California school districts in 2014. Thanks to the voters’ approval of Proposition 30 and the adoption of the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), nearly all districts can expect budget increases over the next several years. Districts that educate the most challenging students will see the largest gains. When the LCFF is fully implemented many schools and districts will receive 50 to 75 percent more revenue per pupil than they do now.

The implementation of LCFF invites education leaders to look forward to 2020 rather than back to 2007 as they think about budget priorities. The prospect of steadily increasing revenues over several years makes it possible to think big about what they aim to accomplish for their students, and to develop long-term strategies for their schools and school districts. Being strategic rather than reactive in the implementation of LCFF is the key to long-term improvements in the performance of California schools and students.

Decisions about LCFF implementation should be guided by a vision of where the district aims to be in 2020, based on evidence and developed in consultation with teachers, parents, political and business leaders and community members. The political pressure to raise salaries, restore programs, and reverse budget cuts is naturally intense, but a unique opportunity will be squandered if LCFF revenues are used only to backfill cuts or fund miscellaneous pet projects. Realizing the vision will require the establishment of clear and measurable goals for addressing specific problems and supporting specific groups of students.

In this report PACE offers guidance on research-based strategies for LCFF implementation. We begin with three key principles that in our view must guide any long-term strategy for improvement in California’s education system. We then identify four key areas for the investment of new resources where research suggests that additional spending can produce real gains in the performance of schools and students.

Designing, Leading and Managing the Transition to the Common Core: A Strategy Guidebook for Leaders

Year of publication: 
January 2014
Policy Analysis for California Education

The Common Core provides districts an opportunity to renew their focus on teaching and learning. But it also poses a number of design and implementation challenges for school districts, including how to:

  • Build the capacity of teachers to equitably implement student-centered instructional strategies.
  • Address gaps in curriculum in ways that foster creativity, address the local culture, scaffold achievement for diverse learners and increase motivation for teachers.
  • Design formative and interim assessments that promote a new vision for 21st Century teaching and learning and target support for those that need interventions.
  • Leverage technology to promote deeper and more personalized learning.
  • Structure implementation activities in ways that reach every teacher, every classroom and every student.
  • Engage and motivate site administrators, teachers and family and community members.

The Leadership and Design Cycles described in this guidebook offer an evidenced-based and structured process for leaders to design and implement Common Core change initiatives in ways that promote innovation, build reciprocal accountability, and effectively address both the technical and human dimensions of change. Infusing “design thinking” into the change process allows leaders to share responsibility for tactics, while ensuring that what gets designed and implemented meets a locally defined vision and core strategy for 21st Century teaching and learning. It also is an essential tool for engaging a wide range of stakeholders.

The report also explores the essential questions or “design choices” that leaders must address to effectively navigate their districts through a complex and comprehensive journey. This includes essential change management practices, such as: (i) connecting the initiative to a broader vision for improved teaching and learning; (ii) managing the pace of change by narrowing focus; (iii) increasing site/classroom autonomy, while providing enhanced support; (iv) engaging teachers and site administrators in the design process; (v) building or repurposing feedback loops and refining strategies and tactics accordingly; (vi) increasing leadership development opportunities for site administrators; (vii) coupling bottom up change strategies with clear expectations and accountability; and (viii) informing, engaging and involving parent and community members.

CCSESA Common Core Leadership Planning Guide

Year of publication: 
October 2013
The California County Superintendents Educational Services Association

California has a unique opportunity to improve public education by strengthening instruction, providing targeted support for English learners and struggling learners, preparing students for the demands of the technology reliant 21st century, and expanding pathways for students to college and career. This opportunity is made possible by the adoption of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) which are designed to increase expectations to the level of other highperforming countries, go deeper into subjects, are based on research, and provide for a more active curriculum.

The goals of the use of the CCSS include 1) addressing a persistent disparity between the performance of U.S. students and their counterparts in top-performing countries, 2) lessening the remediation rate for first-year college students, 3) improving the preparation of students for the workplace, and 4) equipping students for civic participation and reaching individual potential through the liberal arts.

"Equitable implementation of the CCSS has the potential to close long-standing opportunity and achievement gaps impacting low-income students, students of color, and English learners."

All standards are expected of all students.

Getting to the Core: How Early Implementers are Approaching the Common Core in California

Year of publication: 
February 2014
Policy Analysis for California Education

California has embarked on a major new wave of curriculum reform with the adoption of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), the new English Language Development (ELD) standards, and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The adoption of the CCSS builds a legacy of standards-based education reform in California that began with the development of curriculum frameworks in the 1980s and continued with the adoption of the California State Standards and the approval of the Public School Accountability Act. The environment for implementation of the CCSS has improved dramatically since the new standards were adopted in 2010. The state education budget is growing rather shrinking. The state has reiterated its commitment to CCSS and expanded the scope of the statewide pilot of the new Smarter Balanced (SBAC) assessments, and provided earmarked funding to support CCSS implementation. Work on new curriculum frameworks is nearing completion, which means that districts will soon have a list of state endorsed instructional materials to choose from. Each of these changes present new opportunities and challenges for districts as they design and implement a plan for CCSS. The report is intended to inform both practitioners and policy makers about the wide variety of CCSS implementation strategies that California school districts are choosing. The report does not aim to evaluate these strategies, or paint a picture of how the average school district in California is responding to the challenge of CCSS implementation. Instead it offers an in-depth look at a small group of early implementers of CCSS, with the goal of chronicling the choices these pathfinders have made, identifying lessons they believe they have learned, and mapping potential pitfalls that other districts may seek to avoid.


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