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Action Steps for the Common Core

Successful implementation of Common Core State Standards will depend on principals’ leadership and their ability to work with teachers, parents, and staff to promote the progression of mathematical and literacy skills across grades. To help reach this goal, national nonprofit education reform organization Achieve partnered with College Summit, the National Association of Secondary School Principals NASSP), and the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) to create a series of action briefs on the role of school leaders and counselors in Common Core implementation.

The briefs are a starting point, they state, designed to increase awareness of the standards, create a sense of urgency around implementation, and provide stakeholders who are often faced with few resources with a deeper understanding of their role in implementation. They provide no-cost takeaways, talking points that detail research, and action steps that school leaders and counselors can begin to put into practice in their schools immediately.

“Based on feedback from school leaders who expressed a need for more guidance, the action briefs outline strategies and techniques that can be used within schools by school leaders to prepare their schools, teachers, and students for the standards and upcoming new assessments,” says Doug Sovde, Achieve director of content and in-structional supports. For example, research points to the principal as key to a strong school culture. The principal briefs state that an effective principal is nearly as important to a school as effective teachers are in each classroom, accounting for 25 percent of a school’s impact on student gains. Principals can set a trusting climate and an innovative culture focused on improvement and working hard, the report states. They can build this culture by speaking often with teachers, instructional and literacy coaches, and technology specialists about student learning, and visiting classrooms often and creating opportunities for teacher leadership. 

School counselors also play an integral role in implementing the Common Core, to ensure that all students are college and career ready. They must work collaboratively with school administrators and teachers, the counselor brief states, including by analyzing students’ math and literacy data to determine the state of the school and identify academic goals for the Common Core, and creating a college-going environment by posting and announcing important information (about scholarships and admissions deadlines, for example), and rewarding academic achievement through events such as honors luncheons. To view the briefs, visit the Publications section at