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Title:The role of the Illinois school district superintendent in Common Core State Standards implementation: a case study
Author(s):Filippi, John
Director of Research:Hackmann, Donald G.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Hackmann, Donald G.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Pak, Yoon; Welton, Anjale; Sloat, Linda
Department / Program:Educ Policy, Orgzn & Leadrshp
Discipline:Ed Organization and Leadership
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Leadership for Learning
Policy Implementation
Distributed Leadership
Common Core State Standards
Abstract:Standards-based curricular reform is at the forefront of change in the American public education system. The Common Core State Standards (CCSS), a new set of learning standards in English and mathematics, have become the new bar for students in the vast majority of the nation’s public schools. While scholars and practitioners debate the merits of the CCSS, educators have been faced with the challenge of implementing them in the classroom. This challenge is particularly acute for school superintendents. Scholarship has suggested that transition to standards-based models like the CCSS will challenge school leaders to restructure school organizations, facilitate change, and foster knowledge- and skill-building activities (Vogel, 2010). To deeply examine the leadership practices and behaviors of successful superintendent leadership in this domain, this case study examined the leadership of one Illinois school district superintendent with a reputation for exceptional leadership for CCSS implementation in her school district. Three research questions framed this study: (a) in what behaviors and activities does an effective superintendent engage, as they lead the implementation of the CCSS; (b) how does a distributed approach to leadership from the superintendent unite stakeholder visions for implementation of the CCSS; and (c) what challenges did the superintendent face as they worked to unite stakeholder visions of curricula with the CCSS? To guide data collection and analysis, this research utilized a conceptual framework founded on tenants of policy implementation theory, distributed leadership, and leadership for learning. Findings revealed that the superintendent engaged in four primary behaviors that supported effective CCSS implementation: facilitating collaboration, assessing the school district’s capacity for implementation, demonstrating a deep understanding of the CCSS, and providing/coordinating professional development and instructional coaching. Findings also evidenced a distributed approach to leadership for CCSS implementation from the superintendent. The superintendent facilitated collaboration, engaged stakeholder’s in efforts to learn about the CCSS together, facilitated and monitored goal setting for implementation of the CCSS, and provided and protected time necessary for teachers to plan for implementation of the CCSS. Even though these leadership behaviors were reported to be associated with a positive CCSS implementation result in the study school district, challenges remained. The need for effective communication, more professional development, and attention to teacher stress were all noted to be areas that presented challenges for the superintendent. Implications from this study focused on the superintendent coordinating distributed leadership, deliberately engaging with internal school district stakeholders, and practicing tenants of the leadership for learning framework. Multiple recommendations for further study, development of policy, and professional practice are presented to advance effective leadership practices for implementation of the CCSS.
Issue Date:2015-02-05
Rights Information:Copyright 2015 John Filippi
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-07-22
Date Deposited:May 2015

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