NY Ed Voice Fellow Janice Killelea reflects on a new study from Harvard Center for Education Policy Research on Common Core State Standards implementation. 

The study from the Harvard Center for Education Policy Research, called Teaching Higher: Educators' Perspectives on the Common Core Implementation, identified several policies that support student mastery of the new ambitious standards. The study found that more training and more classroom observations with explicit feedback on the required instructional changes are associated with greater student achievement.

If we want to increase student achievement and improve educational outcomes, then teacher leadership programs must become a priority in our schools. Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) led by trained teacher leaders maximize the effect of teaching and learning. The study also indicated that teachers will be more successful in implementing the standards if they are not left to make instructional changes on their own but instead get the feedback they need to change their instruction. Teacher leadership programs involve educators sharing best practices and strategies, analyzing student assessments to drive instruction, and providing each other with non-threatening feedback in a supportive, trusting manner. In PLC meetings, student successes and needs are addressed. 

My work as an instructional leader involves meeting regularly with fellow teachers to discuss student progress toward a specific goal or learning standard set by the team. Our meetings are structured with a clear agenda prepared before we meet. We analyze student work based on data collected and decide on measurable next steps. Meeting consistently to discuss student progress has been beneficial to student learning.

Common Core has given educators a uniform language in which we can address standards with colleagues across grade levels, schools within the state, and throughout the country. It allows us to collaborate on a greater level and establish a network of exceptional educators that share the same goal: for every student to receive a high quality education in America. 

A meaningful dialogue supporting teacher leadership programs in our schools where our educators can lead, learn, and thrive must be a focus for school officials, teachers and policymakers.

Janice Killelea is a third grade teacher in Mineola, and a New York Educator Voice Fellow with America Achieves.