College Board Discusses Importance of School Leaders and Climate in the Common Core

On Wednesday, March 28th, The College Board held a Webinar, “School Leaders for Common Core Standards: Changing School Culture and Climate,” where panelists Dick Flanary, Senior Director of Leadership Programs and Services and Mel Riddile, Associate Director for High School Services at the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) joined moderator Natasha Vasavada, Executive Director of Research and Development at The College Board, to discuss the cultural changes necessitated by the implementation of the Common Core State Standards. This Webinar was the last in the six-part series, “School Leadership for Common Core Standards and College and Career Readiness.”

Riddle discussed the instructional and mindset shifts that are inherent in the implementation of the Common Core, specifically the movement away from the traditional focus on graduation and toward a more comprehensive focus on college and career readiness. School leaders play an integral role in developing and supporting changes in school culture and climate, which Riddle says often “trumps” specific school improvement strategies or programs. The ability to translate improvement efforts into practice through visible aspects, such as behavior, as well as invisible aspects like attitudes and beliefs, depends upon the culture of the school. According to Riddle, the role of the school leader in developing a strong culture includes providing focus, establishing shared leadership, and setting instructional direction.

Riddile also emphasized the vital importance of collaboration in providing each student a more customized educational experience that is focused on ensuring their readiness for college and careers. Increased collaboration will create a less hierarchical, bureaucratic, resistant culture that will in turn open the school up to innovation and positive change.

NASSP and The College Board have created an online community for school leaders to connect and share ideas on Common Core implementation at: View the full Webinar, including video recordings and presentation slides from the previous five events, on The College Board’s Web site:

Note: This blog post was originally authored under the auspices of the National High School Center at the American Institutes for Research (AIR). The National High School Center’s blog, High School Matters, which ran until March 2013, provided an objective perspective on the latest research, issues, and events that affected high school improvement. The CCRS Center plans to continue relevant work originally developed under the National High School Center grant. National High School Center blog posts that pertain to CCRS Center issues are included on this website as a resource to our stakeholders.

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