Silicon Valley Common Core Initiative in its final year: seeing the change happen

Now that students and teachers have been back in their classrooms for a few months, it is an opportune time to provide an update on the Silicon Valley Common Core Initiative. SVCCI is SVCF’s initiative to support our local school districts as they implement a more rigorous set of learning standards known as the Common Core.

As we enter the final year of this three-year initiative, we can see how these new standards are changing every level of the educational system, from how students and teachers operate in the classroom, to how parents help students with their homework, to how school and district leaders have led the shift towards deeper learning. 

As one teacher noted to SVCF, “I love the deeper level of critical thinking that my students are being asked to [use] in my classroom this year. It inspires me to see that spark in them and it inspires me that I can do that.”

See the work in action in this video, shot at Loma Alta Middle School in South San Francisco.

As part of SVCCI, SVCF made grants totaling $2.8 million to five collaborative groups of school districts. Those groups represent 27 school districts serving nearly 150,000 students. Together, these districts serve 80 percent of the region’s low-income students and students of color. These grants have provided the necessary support for collaborative, system-wide planning within and across districts, technology upgrades and professional development for teachers.

Nearly all of the 500 teachers who participated in training funded by this initiative (87%) reported that these sessions had a significant impact on their educational practice. It has been particularly gratifying to see these practices in action when we visit participating schools and see magic happening in classrooms.

The big idea of this initiative is that there was more to be gained by having districts work together on a coherent and consistent approach to the implementation of these standards than if they worked alone, as they typically have during past educational reform efforts. As one superintendent told us, because of SVCCI, the level of collaboration among districts is unprecedented.

While we are proud of these successes, there is so much more work to be done to ensure the Common Core standards are effectively implemented in our region’s schools. Now that we have the results from the new assessments that students took earlier this year, the challenge for all districts is to ensure that they use these results to inform teaching, so that all children are able to perform at these higher standards. That will be the focus of our third year.

Teachers are getting together in all our partner districts, discussing results of the assessments and planning together how to make lessons better so kids can learn better. School principals are helping teachers by planning for that sharing time and then driving improvement. Superintendents are supporting their principals by helping them be the agents of change. This work is not easy or fast – but our students are worth it. 

We appreciate all our partners’ investments in making this initiative possible. We know that with our collaborative efforts, our students will have the opportunity to become the change-makers of tomorrow.

Contact us at commoncore@siliconvalleycf.org and learn more about the SVCCI at siliconvalleycf.org/common-core.