State education agencies and school districts across the country are in the midst of major changes, as they align their work with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Their decisions will have far-reaching implications for instruction, and it is important that they be informed by high-quality research. However, educators and policymakers do not always bring research to their decisions. Constraints on the decision-making process itself–financial, logistical, or political–sometimes make the careful consideration of research difficult. At other times, policymakers may feel that existing research is not suited to their context or that the gap between theory and practice is too wide. To help sort out these issues, the William T. Grant Foundation has sponsored several studies to track how research is accessed, interpreted, and used to inform policy discourse and practice. This forum will highlight how these studies can illuminate and strengthen the use of research in implementing the Common Core State Standards.
Dr. Lorraine McDonnell, University of California, Santa Barbara, will discuss how research was integrated with other types of evidence in developing the Common Core, and what the CCSS experience suggests for how research might be more effectively used in policy deliberations. Dr. Sandra Alberti, Director of State and District Partnerships and Professional Development, Student Achievement Partners, will share her experience working alongside states and districts to align their work to the Common Core using evidence-based strategies. Last, we will hear from a school district that is currently aligning its work to the Common Core. Nancy Gannon, Executive Director of the Office for Academic Quality in the New York City Department of Education will speak about how the department integrated research into selecting Common Core supports for teachers and schools.
Sandra Alberti, Director of State and District Partnerships and Professional Development, Student Achievement Partners
Nancy Gannon, Executive Director for Academic Quality, New York City Department of Education
Lorraine M. McDonnell, Professor, University of California, Santa Barbara
Sandra Alberti serves as the Director of the Field Impact Team for Student Achievement Partners, an organization that was instrumental in the development of the Common Core State Standards. Sandra joined Student Achievement Partners after having served the New Jersey Department of Education in the roles of Director of Academic Standards and Director of Math and Science Education. She was directly involved in state standards, assessment, and professional development policy and implementation strategies. Prior to working at the state level Sandra held several district-level positions including school superintendent, assistant superintendent of teaching and learning, principal, subject area supervisor and high school science teacher. She has an undergraduate degree in Biology from Rutgers University and masters and doctorate degrees in Educational Leadership from Rowan University. As important to her professional work as her individual positions and academic degrees are her roles as daughter of an elementary school teacher and mother of two school age children.
Nancy Gannon started her career in education as a Peace Corps volunteer, and has taught in middle and high schools, rural and urban schools, and has worked with students who had been labelled ‘gifted’ and students who had been labelled ‘last chance.’ After working in whole school reform with large urban high schools, she founded and served as principal of a secondary school in Crown Heights, where her graduating class almost tripled the statistics of the previous school in the neighborhood. She now leads the Office for Academic Quality in New York City.
Lorraine McDonnell is a professor of political science at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her research has focused on the design and implementation of K-12 education policies and their effects on school practice. In several studies, she examined the politics of student testing, particularly the curricular policies underlying state assessment and accountability policies. In her current work, she is comparing the use of research and other types of evidence in the Common Core State Standards initiative. She is a past president of the American Educational Research Association and a member of the National Academy of Education.
Director of State and District Partnerships and Professional Development
Student Achievement Partners
Executive Director for Academic Quality
Lorraine M. McDonnell
Department of Political Science 9420
Ellison Hall 3834
University of California