AFT - American Federation of Teachers

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Common Core State Standards

The AFT Innovation Fund is supporting local affiliates to ensure that teachers have a voice in the implementation of the Common Core. Too often, efforts to set higher standards for students have fallen short of reaching the classroom. We’ve created a network of enthusiastic and knowledgeable teachers who are creating model materials that can be used nationwide. Their work will be posted on, the AFT’s new online community of resources for teachers.

Albuquerque Teachers Federation (NM), 2011

Summary: ATF’s partnership with the public television station WETA and its Colorín Colorado website is a teacher-led, multimedia professional development initiative to help K-12 teachers implement the Common Core State Standards with English language learners. The focus is on developing research-based lessons in English language arts for students in grades 1, 4 and 8 and videotaping segments of classroom teaching to post as exemplars on the website.

Intended Outcomes:

  1. To ensure that teachers have a voice in implementing the CCSS for this key population and are prepared to meet the increased demands of the standards.
  2. To design practical, research-based classroom materials that can help serve as national exemplars on the popular website.

Boston Teachers Union (MA), 2010

Summary: Master classroom teachers at a noted middle school in Boston are working together to create PowerPoint-based lessons in key subject areas and post them on the BetterLesson website and This platform is a go-to site for teachers, especially in charter networks, and is well known among school reformers. The BTU’s first batch of lessons, in middle grades mathematics, earned rave reviews from users on the site and were downloaded across the nation. The teachers will next tackle social studies and English language arts.

Intended Outcomes:

  1. To create superior lessons based on best practices in unionized public schools.
  2. To post the lessons on BetterLesson and other sites where teachers gather.
  3. To evaluate the lessons and ensure they are aligned with the Common Core State Standards.

Chicago Teachers Union (IL), 2011

Summary: CTU created a process for writing instructional units aligned with the Common Core State Standards and put together teams of top-notch teachers to produce them (with about 120 lessons). This fall, the CTU will train principals and then field test the units in select schools. The teacher teams will revise the units, based on the field test results, and the ongoing feedback received from the project’s diverse advisory board of experts.

Intended Outcomes:

  1. To design prototype units aligned with the CCSS using a nine-step backward-mapping development process.
  2. To test, evaluate and improve the units so they can be disseminated broadly and so that Chicago teachers can adapt and develop their own lessons.
  3. To ensure that teacher expertise is harnessed to implement the CCSS.

Cleveland Teachers Union (OH), 2012

Summary: The Cleveland Metropolitan School District, in partnership with the CTU, has been a leader in implementing the Common Core State Standards, which are in place for teachers in grades K-2 and on track for grades 3-5 in 2012-13. This project will build on the district’s teacher-driven work by creating a process for identifying and refining the best lessons that Cleveland teachers have developed and taught in their classrooms. These will then be posted on the district’s data warehouse so that other Cleveland teachers can use them, and shared on national platforms like

Intended Outcomes:

  1. Spreading excellent lessons aligned to the Common Core standards across the Cleveland district.
  2. Posting these lessons on national platforms such as
  3. Ensuring that this process includes evidence that the lessons were effective.

Jefferson County AFT (AL), 2012

Summary: This innovation brings together pre-service teachers and faculty members from the University of Alabama-Birmingham and practitioners in the Jefferson County School District to write Common Core-aligned lessons in English language arts and teach them together. It is designed to ensure that both new and experienced teachers are prepared to teach to the standards, and will evolve over time to include science and social studies. The goal is to redesign teacher education coursework so that future teachers are ready to teach the Common Core.

Intended Outcomes:

  1. Two schools will become pilot sites for teacher education students to learn about and teach the Common Core.
  2. A team of expert teachers from across the district will write lessons aligned to the Common Core that will be tested in the pilot schools.
  3. Redesigned university coursework geared toward the Common Core.

Quincy Federation of Teachers (IL), 2012

Summary: The union will work with a broad sector of the local community, including parents, businesses, and daycare providers, to conduct a communications campaign that will explain the Common Core State Standards and build support for them. This creative campaign will be done through public service announcements, polls in the local newspaper, published materials and educator-led forums that will demonstrate the deeper learning called for by the standards.

Intended Outcomes:

  1. A comprehensive message and set of materials to help AFT locals communicate about the Common Core and enlist support among community members.
  2. Evidence of an increase in awareness and understanding of the standards in the Quincy community, as measured by polling.
  3. Greater educator awareness and efficacy as a result of being in the lead on this proactive campaign.