Effective Leadership for the Common Core State Standards

Four math teachers confer over student work. Do the students’ solutions indicate mastery of the standard? What would? How can they help students not getting the concept? These “teachers” are actually principals participating in a “fish bowl” activity as fellow administrators look on and a SEDL consultant facilitates. The exercise is one way our Center for High-Performing Schools is helping five New Mexico districts implement the Common Core State Standards for English language arts and math.

Implementing new standards is an immense task. District and school leaders must align curriculum, instruction, and assessments to the standards and ensure teachers understand the new requirements and modify their lessons to teach to them. 

In New Mexico, our Center is partnering with the Pecos Valley Regional Education Cooperative to build leadership capacity in five districts for managing this task. SEDL consultants are providing a series of 2-day sessions for superintendents, administrators, principals, and teacher leaders. A major focus is on our Professional Teaching and Learning Cycle. Using this process, teams collaborate to study the standards, develop related lessons and assessments, and examine evidence of student learning to assess teachers’ efforts.

At the sessions, interactive learning experiences, such as modeling and role-playing activities, enable participants to see practices in action. This approach has sparked several “aha” moments as a leader suddenly grasps a concept. Other activities incorporate resources leaders can use to build understanding, reinforce learning, and dig deeper. For instance, our Common Core math videos help leaders unpack complex standards for teachers.

As follow-up, SEDL consultants check in monthly to review progress and provide coaching. Several principals were surprised to discover curriculum and instruction were not well aligned at their schools. Now, they report having in-depth meetings with teachers—some for the first time—about instruction, lesson plans, and the new standards. 

For more information, please contact SEDL program director Robin Jarvis at robin.jarvis@sedl.org or at 800-476-6861, ext. 6510 or 225-257-4986.

Center for High-Performing Schools: Turnaround Team

Our Turnaround Team is led by two former principals who have turned schools around. They draw on this experience as they work with educators to develop solutions grounded in the realities of practice.

Don DoggettDon Doggett, MEd, used multiple strategies to turn around a South Carolina elementary school. He applied curriculum mapping to align instruction, launched a literacy plan, established professional learning communities, and held weekly data meetings with instructional coaches and teachers to review progress and needs.



Sylvia PirtleSylvia Pirtle, PhD, targeted literacy to boost student outcomes at a Texas elementary school. Using multiple sources of data, Pirtle and the instructional coaches continuously reviewed student progress and set up systems of support to ensure that struggling readers received effective instruction and interventions.