Leveraging Opportunities for Instructional Excellence: Implementing the Common Core

Professional Learning for CCSS

**Sacramento City Unified School District. (n.d.). Professional learning cycle. Sacramento, CA: Author. Available for members at this link.

This document outlines Sacramento City Unified School District’s (SCUSD) inquiry-based professional learning process that helps teachers create and deliver high-quality instruction aligned to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). In the process, the teachers act as students and take sample assessments to inform their efforts to better create instructional plans and tasks aligned to the CCSS. Next, the teachers use these plans and tasks in their classrooms, and bring samples of student work back to the professional learning sessions. Last, the teachers collectively engage in reflective practice to determine if the lesson or task requires revision. In short, SCUSD’s professional learning cycle allows teachers to “learn the work by doing the work.” We have included a sample agenda from one of SCUSD’s professional learning sessions.

City, E. A., Elmore, R. F., Fiarman, S. E., & Teitel, L. (2009). The instructional core. In Instructional rounds in education (pp. 21-38). Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press. Available for purchase at http://hepg.org/hep/book/99

The authors argue that to improve student learning, school improvement efforts must focus on the “instructional core”—the relationship between the teacher, the student, and the content. Drawing on well-known instructional frameworks, the authors articulate seven principles that should guide every school- or district-level improvement process. The chapter then summarizes the seven principles with three takeaways for improving student learning at scale: 1) efforts must focus on the instructional core; 2) academic tasks, observed and processed through instructional rounds, can predict how students will perform at higher levels; 3) and accountability begins in the tasks that students are asked to perform.

Cohen, D. K., & Hill, H. C. (2000). Instructional policy and classroom performance: The mathematics reform in California. Teachers College Record, 102(2), 294-343. Available at http://www-personal.umich.edu/ ~dkcohen/cohen_hill_2000_TCR.pdf

Summarizing waves of education reform over the past three decades, this article presents a model of the interactions between instructional policy, teaching, and student learning. Using data from a 1994 survey of elementary teachers and California Learning Assessment System (CLAS) scores, the authors find that professional development can have a crucial impact on classroom practice, and at least an indirect influence on student achievement. They argue that professional development should be deeply rooted in curriculum and thoughtful plans to improve teaching and learning.

**This document is considered a priority reading.