Mike Kirst Describes Important but Challenging Work Ahead for California in Implementing Common Core

August 2013

In an op-ed appearing in the San Francisco Chronicle, Mike Kirst argued that California’s adoption of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) is only the first of many challenging yet critical steps to ensuring that students leave high school prepared for college and career. Kirst feels that the CCSS establish the right benchmarks for what students should know and be able to do at each grade level, while preserving an appropriate level of local control by leaving the development of curriculum frameworks and choice of instructional materials to states and districts. Nevertheless, important challenges remain. Kirst highlights the importance of giving teachers time and training to develop new lessons that focus on students’ abilities to analyze, evaluate, derive, and model concepts. California also will need a new accountability system which combines measures of student success such as attendance and graduation rates, school discipline data, and measures of college and career readiness with student achievement data collected through new, computer adaptive tests designed to assess students’ progress against the CCSS. Successful implementation will require a large investment of resources. Kirst argues, however, that California’s new Local Control Funding Formula will help give districts the much needed flexibility to navigate these changes and work toward making promise of the CCSS – college and career readiness for all students – a reality in California. Mike Kirst is the president of the California State Board of Education and Professor Emeritus of Education and Business Administration at Stanford University.