January 15, 2013 by

Checking in with Common Core Implementation in New Hampshire

ASCD asked some of our affiliate leaders to tell us how the implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) has been going in their home states. Below, we hear from Bill Carozza, the president of New Hampshire ASCD and principal at the Harold Martin School in Hopkinton, N.H., on the challenges and successes that New Hampshire has had with CCSS implementation.

ASCD New Hampshire LogoWhen I was first hired as a middle school social studies teacher in 1984, I served on a committee to develop a new social studies curriculum for my K–8 school. Our primary resources were the National Council for Social Studies (NCSS) curriculum documents and textbooks. In fact, the resulting document was more of a scope and sequence than a standards-based curriculum.

Fast forward to 2012—I’m an elementary principal in a school and state struggling with many others to appropriately implement the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), the best chance I have seen in my nearly 30 years in education to bring consistency to curriculum and perhaps raise the bar at the same time.

Where is New Hampshire in the process of implementing the Common Core State Standards?

A hallmark of New Hampshire is its local control and fierce independence. The state’s leaders have certainly embraced the CCSS but implementation varies widely among our various cities and towns. This year, New Hampshire ASCD is dedicated to helping districts implement the CCSS with dynamic and practical demonstrations from Heidi Hayes Jacobs, Carol Ann Tomlinson, and Jay McTighe, all veterans in curriculum, instruction, and assessment but equally dedicated to leveraging their experience and knowledge to help educators embrace the new standards.

What part of implementation is going really well in New Hampshire?

Extensive work has been completed in helping administrators and teachers align the former New England Common Assessment Program standards with the Common Core standards. New Hampshire Department of Education’s website has become a portal for many New Hampshire districts during the process. In addition, the state has just debuted a new professional development program offered through the state department of education, called NH Education Networks, with webinar and seminar offerings on a host of topics, including the Common Core standards.

There are many individual success stories. The Lebanon School District is implementing the new standards with the theme of “Think Big, Start Small.” They understand the enormity of the process, but through intense support of teachers with both physical and emotional resources, they are confident of success made in small steps.

What are some implementation challenges New Hampshire is facing?

New Hampshire is one of only two states in the nation without a sales or income tax. As a result, New Hampshire’s nearly 500 schools operate quite independently, because funding originates almost entirely from local property taxes. With such decentralization, local school boards tend to have different priorities for initiatives, such as the Common Core State Standards. In fact, there have even been rumblings from our state legislature to repeal New Hampshire’s commitment to the common core. Given the significant political reversal in this month’s state elections, this is now unlikely to happen.

What are some of the tools NH ASCD is using for common core Implementation?

In addition to the resources provided by our state department of education, the Common Core work of New Jersey ASCD has been very helpful. New Jersey ASCD Executive Director Marie Adair has led the hiring and training of a cadre of CCSS coaches, who are canvassing New Jersey. They also generously provide free resources on their website.

In fact, leveraging technology is crucial in meeting this challenge. In my own district of Hopkinton, we began our training a year ago through the use of a wiki that helped organize our initial crosswalk, using this formula:

  • We highlighted in yellow the standards that are already represented in our current curriculum practice.
  • We highlighted in blue the standards that are represented in our curriculum but are more rigorous than our current practice.
  • We highlighted in pink the standards that are new, unfamiliar, or not currently addressed in our instructional practice.

Many districts, including Hopkinton, use collaborative tools, such as Google Drive, to share the standards themselves as well as notes about committee meetings.

What advice would you give to education leaders working to implement the standards?

Success depends on collaboration between school leaders and teachers. It is worth the time to establish strong professional learning communities before tackling the details of the Common Core State Standards. Leaders can provide the timelines, inspiration, and the big picture, but curriculum coordinators and teachers must do the work that requires intense conversation and cooperation.

Leaders must also provide the resources of time, tools, and training. We must be cheerleaders and encouragers. Teachers generally love curriculum—this is at the core of what they do. And with the right resources on the back end, the implementation of Common Core standards can be truly successful.

For more information on the Common Core resources ASCD has to offer, visit www.ascd.org/commoncore.