When asked about the success of the Standards, Chester E. Finn, Jr., President of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, commented “The biggest potential pothole, by far, is failed implementation (Education Week, April 25, 2012).” Successful implementation – like other major organizational changes – requires strategic and systemic thinking.
- What’s the district’s role in implementation?
- How will various stakeholders be involved along the way?
- What kind of skills and knowledge are necessary?
- How do leaders (district and school) help staff manage change?
The districts that will most successfully implement these standards are ones that have recognized and planned for the magnitude of this change on all levels. One such district is Gaston County Public Schools in NC, under the leadership of Dr. Lory Morrow, Deputy Superintendent of Instruction. Working with the Curriculum and Instruction staff, they have taken a comprehensive and collaborative approach to ensure their success. Key elements include:
- Clear goals for CCS implementation and metrics for measuring success;
- A goal-driven district plan for CCS implementation – key actions, persons accountable, and timelines identified;
- A communications plan which considers various stakeholders – including purpose, message, vehicle, audience and responsibility;
- A monitoring focus to ensure adherence to plan and make adjustments as needed; and
- Shared strategies for addressing implementation issues and decisions as they arise.
The strategic work that they have done has resulted in a clear implementation plan with well defined actions and accountability.
How have you prepared to implement this complex change in your district? Is your district ready?