The College and Career Readiness Standards, referred to as the Common Core Learning Standards (CCLS) in New York City, are increasingly the focus of educational reform efforts across the United States. Each year for the past several years, the New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE) has created a set of focusing expectations for schools in order to guide their engagement with the CCLS. In the 2011-12 school year, which is the focus of this report, the New York Citywide Instructional Expectations (CIEs) asked schools to engage in two central activities. First, teachers in grade levels or subject areas were asked to collaboratively examine student work and analyze the gaps between current curriculum, instructional practice, and student performance relative to the expectations of the Standards. Second, schools were asked to identify and implement performance-based assessments, or "tasks," within a CCLS-aligned curricular unit, such that all students would experience at least one task in literacy and one in mathematics. The NYCDOE designed these activities as a set of carefully chosen opportunities for schools to engage with the more rigorous expectations for teaching and learning embodied in the Standards. The hope was that, by engaging with these learning opportunities, school staff would develop a deeper, shared understanding of the Standards, and could begin to address the scope of change necessary to meet the higher expectations.
CPRE's evaluation of CCLS implementation in New York City in 2011-12 allowed us to examine how a diverse sample of 16 elementary and middle schools engaged with the CIEs.