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Analysis of CCSS Professional Learning Program’s Impact on Teacher Practice and Student Learning
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The Common Core State Standards (CCSS, 2010) for literacy call for students who are College and Career Ready to be able to read texts closely and critically. The standards’ emphasis on text complexity requires careful and strategic professional learning for teachers (International Reading Association, 2012). While state and local entities must determine appropriate guidance to support teachers in implementing the standards, determining the effectiveness of professional learning opportunities and subsequent impact on student learning continues to challenge the field. While proponents and critics have noted that it may take many years before impact of the standards on student achievement is evident, stakeholders must understand programs and strategies that may enhance implementation of the standards (Loveless, 2015). This program evaluation adopts Lave’s (1991) situated learning theory, in which learning is a function of the activity, context, and culture, to analyze the medium and long-term outcomes of the Core Task implementation Project (CTiP), a 2-year, inquiry-driven professional learning model designed to strengthen teachers’ pedagogical content knowledge and self-efficacy in implementing the English Language Arts (ELA) CCSS. Through mixed-methods analyses, qualitative and quantitative program data sources were examined to understand participating teachers’ perceived changes in knowledge of the standards and instructional practice and effects on participants’ self-efficacy in implementing the CCSS. Findings indicated that participating teachers made significant gains in understanding and applying close-reading lessons and Basal Alignment Project resources to meet the demands of the CCSS. Furthermore, participants described feeling changed as a result of the CTiP experience, specifically that the project advanced understanding and confidence in teaching with the CCSS.Teacher reflections and year-end summative assessment data were analyzed to understand impact on student learning. Quantitative data were disaggregated to determine impact of the program on diverse learners in participating teachers’ classrooms. Findings indicated that students of CTiP participants outperformed a comparison group on the SBAC, the new CCSS-aligned assessment. Additionally, participants described how students became stronger analytic readers and engaged in higher-quality discussion as a result of the strategies and support shared in the project.The evaluation concludes with suggestions for strengthening program content and design and integrating a strategic and systematic focus on student learning. Implications for policy, practice and research, limitations of the research, as well as recommendations for future study, are offered.