College- and Career-Ready Standards
College-and-career-ready academic standards are vital to the equity mission of public education because they align success in school with success in postsecondary education and the world of work. To realize the promise of these standards, Aspen Education creates opportunities for educators to deepen their understanding of the standards and map-out the strategies and resources they need to improve instruction.
Through networks of urban superintendents and other senior leaders from traditional districts and charter school organizations, Aspen Education provides professional learning opportunities, highlights promising practices, and creates forums for education leaders to provide critical feedback and support to one another. We distill the lessons from this work to develop resources and recommendations that are shared broadly with the field.
Because the most important work of teaching and learning happens in schools and classrooms, we elevate teacher-leadership and distributed leadership models for schools. Distributed leadership is especially powerful in the implementation of college- and career-ready standards because the magnitude of change and leadership required cannot rest on principals’ shoulders alone.
We are also working to improve the development, selection, and introduction of instructional materials aligned to college- and career-ready standards. As high-quality materials become more prevalent, Aspen Education networks play an important role in forging stronger connections between the materials, content-rich professional learning, and assessments that inform improvements in instruction.
In addition, Aspen Education is prioritizing students’ social-emotional development and the conditions in schools that foster student engagement, intellectual risk-taking, and motivation for learning. We are sponsoring the National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development to establish a roadmap for integrating social and emotional development into the definition of school and student success. The National Commission will set a new standard for inclusive, collaborative policy development, culminating in a Report to the Nation in 2018 that articulates specific recommendations for policymakers, educators, researchers, and foundations.
Featured Tools, Publications, and Blogs on College- and Career-Ready Standards
- This Time, With Feeling: Integrating Social and Emotional Development and College- and Career-Readiness Standards (March 2017) – This Time, With Feeling presents an approach to defining social and emotional development (SED), provides a summary of the research on SED, and illustrates the connection between college- and career-readiness standards and expectations and SED.
- Core Ready Schools (November 2014) – Core Ready Schools is a web-based tool that allows school leadership teams to benchmark implementation efforts against a comprehensive roadmap for successfully implementing college-and-career-ready standards.
- Implementation of the Common Core State Standards: A Transition Guide for School-level Leaders (September 2013) – Built around seven indicators, this guide provides specific high-impact actions, measures, and tools so school leaders have an action planning springboard for implementing the CCSS.
- Leading from the Front of the Classroom: A Roadmap to Teacher Leadership That Works (October 2014) – Teacher leadership is emerging as a key strategy to increase retention of effective teachers and distribute responsibility for improving instruction, but it must be implemented strategically.
- Tools for Teachers: Implementing Key Shifts in the Common Core State Standards – These six professional development modules are designed to meet the needs of teachers, schools, and districts working to make the key instructional shifts in the CCSS for ELA & Literacy. Each module defines key learning objectives and includes course materials and facilitator’s guide designed for PD instructors, as well as a suite of supplemental exemplars, worksheets, and other resources.
- Implementing the Common Core State Standards: A Primer on “Close Reading of Text” (October 2012) – To assist teachers in understanding and employing the Common Core instructional emphasis on Close Reading in the classroom, this primer addresses what close reading of text is, how it should be used, the role of background knowledge in the development of reading comprehension, and how to implement close reading in practice.
Convenings (Recent and Scheduled)
- May 2016: Urban District Leadership Network Retreat (invite only)
- March 2016: Common Core State Standards Collaborative Retreat (invite only)
From Our Partners
- Nell Duke, “Essential instructional practices in early literacy: K to 3,” Michigan Association of Intermediate School Administrators General Education Leadership Network Early Literacy Task Force, 2016.
- Nell Duke, “Essential instructional practices in early literacy: Prekindergarten,” Michigan Association of Intermediate School Administrators General Education Leadership Network Early Literacy Task Force, 2016.
Strengthening Human Capital and Professional Learning
Teachers are far and away the most important resource for student learning. Aspen Education partners with education leaders to develop strategies that strengthen the recruitment, development, and retention of effective educators. The Aspen Education Program advances a vision of professional learning that integrates teacher evaluation, teacher leadership, and organizational learning to elevate the teaching profession and improve instruction at scale.
Through our work with federal and state policymakers and district practitioner leaders, Aspen Education surfaces practical policy solutions to support robust professional learning and educator evaluation systems. We identify opportunities to forge coherence and embed a vision of excellence across the myriad policies that shape the teaching profession.
We also work within our network of large urban school districts and charter management organizations to explore how they can cultivate effective professional learning practice in their systems.
Featured Tools, Publications, and Blogs on Human Capital and Professional Learning
Tools and Publications
- Teacher Evaluation and Support Systems: A Roadmap to Improvement (March 2016) – This report synthesizes key findings from research, highlights best practices from states and districts across the country, and recommends practices that states and districts can incorporate into their teacher evaluation and support systems to move them forward.
- Leading from the Front of the Classroom: A Roadmap to Teacher Leadership that Works (October 2014) – Co-published with Leading Educators, this paper supports system leaders in building teacher leadership systems. Case studies on Denver Public Schools, Tennessee, and Pritzker College Prep Charter Schools provide examples of successful initiatives.
- Teaching to the Core: Integrating Common Core and Teacher Effectiveness (May 2013) – This report offers ten practical suggestions for state leaders on how to ensure high-quality instruction by integrating teacher effectiveness and college- and career-ready standards implementation into a transformative whole.
- Evaluating Evaluations: Using Teacher Surveys to Strengthen Implementation (April 2013) – To convert emerging educator evaluation data into more effective teaching, teachers, principals, and system leaders need to embrace a culture of feedback and continuous improvement. Evaluating Evaluations explains how teacher surveys can advance this work by engaging teachers, generating information on what’s working and what’s not, and supporting reciprocal accountability in education improvement efforts.
- Ross Wiener and Danielle Gonzales, “Four Ways to Make Teacher Evaluation Meaningful,” Hechinger Report, May 31, 2016.
- Ross Wiener, “Three Strategies to Improve Teacher Evaluation,” Education Week, April 26, 2016.
- Marisa Goldstein, “Spring Cleaning on Teacher Evaluation,” Ed Note, April 4, 2016.
- Danielle Gonzales and Rich Crandall, “A New Roadmap to Better Teacher Evaluation and Support,” Governing, March 21, 2016.
Convenings (Recent and Scheduled)
- March 2016: A Discussion on Teacher Evaluation and Support Systems: A Roadmap for Improvement
- July 2015: “Cultivating Conditions for Organizational Learning at the System Level” (invite-only)
From Our Partners
- Maryann Woods-Murphy, Opinion: What Teachers Talk About When They Talk About Education, The 74 Million, August 8, 2016.
- David Edelman, Teacher Evaluation That Goes Beyond Check Boxes, Education Week Teacher, May 23, 2016.
- Council of Chief State School Officers, Principles for Teacher Support and Evaluation Systems, March 2016.
- Center for American Progress, Educator Evaluation: A Case Study of Massachusetts’ Approach, March 2016.
- New America, Beyond Ratings: Re-envisioning State Teacher Evaluation Systems as Tools for Professional Growth, March 2016.
- Southern Regional Education Board, State Actions to Advance Teacher Evaluation, February 2016.
Policy Development and Implementation Support
Policy provides resources, regulations, and reward structures that shape the work of schools. Aspen Education draws on the lessons learned in our deep work with practitioner leaders to create learning opportunities for policymakers and to facilitate policy development discussions.
Across the country, states, districts, and national partners are working hard to implement the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the most recent reauthorization of the federal education law. Aspen Education supports these efforts by providing thought partnership, convening leaders across contexts, and publishing tools and reports. The Program is primarily focused on two main area of ESSA implementation:
- Focusing attention on ESSA’s core purpose of advancing equity in education and
- Developing frameworks for state and district leaders to clearly define their relative roles and responsibilities, and facilitating coordination of efforts across traditional silos of work and different levels of governance to improve policy design and implementation.
The Program’s position at the nexus of policy and practice helps to strengthen and inform our work on ESSA implementation. For more than ten years, the Program has convened seminars, retreats, and site visits for senior Congressional education staffers, creating a safe space away from the partisanship of Capitol Hill for them to learn from practitioner leaders and state policymakers about how federal policy affected practice. Likewise, our ongoing work with networks of senior leaders in large urban school districts and charter management organizations across the country provides a venue for practitioner leaders to develop their skills as leaders on policy and to surface their perspectives on how policy can improve public education.
Featured Tools, Publications, and Blogs on ESSA Implementation and the Role of States
Tools and Publications
- Leading for Equity: Opportunities for State Education Chiefs (February 2017) – Leading for Equity outlines 10 commitments state chiefs and their state education agencies can make to advance educational equity for all students, regardless of background.
- Advancing Equity through ESSA: Strategies for State Leaders (October 2016) – This framework is designed to help states make the most of this important opportunity. This framework examines eight equity priorities that states already are pursuing and identifies multiple provisions in ESSA that states can use to address each priority.
- Roles and Responsibilities of the State Education Agency (December 2015) – This discussion guide challenges state chiefs and their leadership teams to consider their local context and capacity in determining essential, possible, and unsuitable roles for their agency.
- Engaging State Legislators: Lessons for the Education Sector (December 2015) – This report distills the learnings from focus groups, in-depth interviews, and a two-day symposium with over 50 state legislative leaders and explores how they get their information, what matters most to them, and how groups that work with state legislators can engage them most effectively.
- State Education Policy Checklist (September 2015) – This resource, co-developed with the Council of Chief State School Officers, Education Commission of the States, and the State Legislative Leaders Foundation, offers a clear framework for state legislators to aid the development of new education policies.
- Marisa Goldstein, “States Enter the ESSA Era: Five Strategies for Success,” Ed Note, February 22, 2016.
- Danielle Gonzales, “Here’s How States Can Actually Help Every Student Succeed,” Education Post, January 6, 2016.
- Rich Crandall and Danielle Gonzales, “Want Better Education Policy? There’s a Checklist for That,” Governing, October 22, 2015.
Convenings (Recent and Scheduled)
- July 2016: The State Role in Ensuring Equity in Public Education” (invite-only)
- September 2015: Education Summit (invite-only)
- July 2015: The Evolving Role of State Education Policy (invite-only)
From Our Partners
- Joanne Weiss and Patrick McGuinn, “The Evolving Role of the State Education Agency in the Era of ESSA: Past, Present, and Uncertain Future.”
- Anna Baldwin, This is the Summer of Race and Equity in Education,” Education Post, August 1, 2016.
- Joanne Weiss and Patrick McGuinn, “States as Change Agents Under ESSA,” Phi Delta Kappan.
- Rich Haglund, SEA as Portfolio Manager: Strategic Leadership that Leverages Local-Level Expertise