Checking in with Common Core Implementation in Arkansas

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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 state. Below we hear from Joseph D. Fisher, the president of Arkansas ASCD, on the challenges and successes that Arkansas has faced with CCSS implementation.

In early 2011, Arkansas created a Common Core State Standards (CCSS) Guiding Coalition with representatives from the various stakeholder groups in the state. This group developed a strategic plan and continues to meet monthly to monitor the state’s implementation progress and the assessment development (PARCC).

In October 2011, Arkansas ASCD—in partnership with the Guiding Coalition, Arkansas Department of Education, the Council of Chief State School Officers, and ASCD—held a stakeholders’ summit in Little Rock, Ark., to begin coordinating efforts for the CCSS implementation. In March 2012, Arkansas ASCD followed up with a regional shareholders’ meeting in several locations across the state via compressed video to bring community partners and parents into the implementation process.

Currently Arkansas ASCD is providing support to members as they develop their CCSS units and lesson plans. Jay McTighe was in the state November 28–29, 2012, to provide training to members on the Understanding by Design® framework. This was a follow-up session to the work we did with him at our summer conference. We trained our State Department leaders and others in leadership roles from across the state to serve as table facilitators for this two-day training. Participants not only gained insight into the underpinnings of the UbD template and process, but were able to strengthen their understanding of the design by collaborating with educators from all levels (principals, central office staff, teachers, counselors, etc.) and locations across the state. Participants were able to leave the training with a plan for how they would return to their district and implement their new learning.

Effective communication has been at the core of the CCSS implementation process in Arkansas. The state’s Department of Education hosts a website that provides the latest CCSS information. The challenge for Arkansas educators continues to be managing the current accountability system while implementing the new standards and assessments.

Arkansas ASCD encourages other states to develop a strategic plan for implementation, identify stakeholders and their needs, communicate new information with ALL stakeholders, train membership, and provide pathways for stakeholders to share concerns and successes! Working together, we will lead this change in Arkansas!