Research DepartmentClosing Achievement Gaps Between Student Groups | Senior Urban Education Research Fellowship
The goal of the research department is to conduct, facilitate, and disseminate research that will provide concrete guidance and support to the Council’s member districts and other key stakeholders as they work to improve academic achievement and reduce achievement gaps in urban school districts.The research department is engaged in many activities; the following are a few featured projects.
Monitoring Progress on the Common Core Standards (CCSS) in Large Urban School DistrictThe Council of the Great City Schools has received $4.6 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The three-year grant is aimed at promoting and coordinating successful implementation of the new kindergarten to 12th-grade Common Core State Standards in English-language arts and mathematics in big-city public school systems nationwide.The grant will contribute to strategic communications, capacity building, curriculum and assessment alignments, professional development, pilot testing and a host of other measures needed to provide strategies, tools, advice and counsel to the nation's urban school districts as they prepare to implement the state-led common core standards.
The Council will use these resources to make sure that big-city school districts don't slip through the cracks in a broader state adoption and implementation process. It plans to help the urban districts work together and maintain flexibility to permit coordination with their respective states.
The following are four major activities that the research department is engage in around implementing the Common Core State Standards:
Lessons Learned from the Lead Districts and Other Critical Friends
Chief academic officers, curriculum directors, reading and math specialists, ELL directors, and special education directors from the Council’s eight “lead districts”—New York City, Boston, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Cleveland, St. Paul, Albuquerque, and the District of Columbia— meet regularly to discuss lessons learned from the implementation of Common Core. The lead districts also meet with CCSS writers and representatives from PARCC and SBAC to discuss best practices and challenges. The work of these districts will anchor and inform the work of the larger group, as well as other cities that may have developed unique implementation strategies. Lessons Learned from Lead Districts and other Critical Friends will provide the mechanism for sharing these lessons with CGCS member districts and others.
Managing Change: Implementing the Common Core State Standards in Large Urban School Districts
This guide to organizational change management is designed to assist urban school districts manage the implementation of the Common Core State Standards. The guide will tailor current management theory and multi-sector organizational best practices to the complexities of urban school districts when rolling out the Common Core State Standards. Specifically, the guide emphasizes building holistic district-wide support for curriculum reform, sustaining implementation efforts, and involving public stakeholders (e.g., families, community organizations, university partnerships, business leaders) in the implementation of the standards. The Council will rely on the expertise of an advisory group of urban school leaders to provide ongoing feedback on the draft.
A First Look at the Common Core and College and Career Readiness: CGCS
The Council collaborated with ACT to produce a report that provides a “first look” at how urban students might perform on an assessment based on the new Common Core State Standards. This report is inspired by A First Look at the Common Core and College and Career Readiness, released by ACT in the winter of 2010. The original report was based on a national sample of approximately 260,000 students.ACT has identified 36 districts which meet the necessary sampling criteria and will produce a comprehensive report which looks at individual districts as well summative data. Since performance indicators have not yet been established for the CCSS, this report will rely on ACT’s research based College Readiness Benchmarks to estimate college- and career-ready performance levels on each of the clusters of Common Core State Standards. For each cluster for which ACT has data (i.e., all but Speaking & Listening and Research), they will report the percentage of students in the 11th-grade sample who met or exceeded the performance level of college- and career-ready students on the test items associated with that Common Core cluster.
Monitoring District Implementation on the Common Core State StandardsIn collaboration with its member districts, the Council will develop a “district implementation survey” to be completed annually by its 65 member districts. The research findings identified in the Council’s Managing Change Guide will form the foundation for the survey. It is anticipated that the survey will be administered in March/April/May of each year.1 | 2