COMMON CORE STANDARDS DAILY UPDATE // APRIL 14, 2015

News You Can Use:

Education Post, “More Fizzle than Spark: GOP Efforts to Sink Common Core Are Failing”: Karen Nussle, executive director of the Collaborative for Student Success, notes that more than three months into the 2015 legislative session “virtually none of the [CCSS] repeal threats have materialized.” “Since January, efforts to repeal the standards have fizzled in no fewer than a dozen states, two-thirds of which have legislative chambers and the governor’s office under unified Republican control,” the memo emphasizes, including 10 states that Mitt Romney won by an average of 19.65% in the 2012 election. “The debate over whether the standards will survive appears to be settled: Common Core standards are here to stay.” The analysis attributes the resilience to “a sizable schism between public support for voluntary K-12 standards…and the moniker ‘Common Core’”; the fact “public policymakers intent on repealing Common Core invariably are confronted with the reality that the public fundamentally supports higher standards”; and opponents “have shown a remarkable propensity to inaccurately describe the Standards.” Though states may still entertain debate or vote on repeal bills, “we’re unlikely to see any kind of mass movement away from this critically important initiative.”

What It Means: Contrary to opponents’ narrative that momentum is building to get rid of CCSS, all but one of the 45 states to initially adopt the Standards continue to use them or a very similar version. Republican leadership in many of the most conservative states, which conventional wisdom said would lead a national movement to repeal the Standards, have voted down such efforts. As Nussle’s memo points out, that’s because the public overwhelmingly supports high education standards, opponents’ dishonest attacks have come to light, and CCSS are based on the best practices and information available to prepare students for college or a career.

Arizona Republic, “Stop Fighting Common Core and Focus on Issues”: Former Gov. Jan Brewer and Rebecca Gau, executive director of Stand for Children Arizona, write that five years after their adoption the Arizona College and Career Ready Standards, which are structured on CCSS, “have changed the face of our classrooms.” “However, for three straight legislative sessions, certain members within the Arizona Legislature have sought to destroy the foundation we’ve worked so hard to create for our students’ future,” the piece says. “The academic standards in Arizona are not a takeover by the federal government or corporate America. They are rigorous, tested and responsible expectations for what our students should be learning in order to prepare them for college and to compete for work.” Noting that the standards will undergo another round of review “by Arizonans, in Arizona,” the authors conclude, “We hope this Legislature can move away from disrupting progress and on to ensuring every student has access to a high-quality educational experience.”

What It Means: Brewer and Gau, who oversaw Arizona’s initial implementation of the Arizona College and Career Ready Standards, make clear that the standards set higher classroom expectations while retaining local control of education issues. Through five years of preparation and two national elections, states like Arizona have rejected politically-motivated efforts to repeal the Standards. As the Collaborative’s Karen Nussle points out, one reason is that “policymakers intent on repealing Common Core invariably are confronted with the reality that the public fundamentally supports higher standards.”

New York Daily News, “Opting Your Kid Out Risks Her Future – and Every Other Kid’s, Too”: Despite doing “everything right on paper,” Michael Lomax, CEO of the United Negro College Fund and former president of Dillard University, says that many incoming college freshmen find “high school had not adequately prepared many of them for the demands” of college-level work. Only 5% of African-American students who enroll in college are ready for the demands of five for-credit college courses. Lomax says higher K-12 standards and high-quality assessments are changing that reality, but opt out movements deprive parents of “knowing their children’s strengths and weaknesses while there’s still time before college to address these issues.” “By opting out, parents do a disservice to all children, not just their own,” the piece states. “Without an ample number of test takers, we will lose perspective on how our children are truly doing against the higher bar.” This weekend, Rev. Al Sharpton criticized teachers’ unions for urging parents to opt-out, saying a boycott could hurt urban children, the New York Post reports. “For them to arbitrarily say ‘opt out’ and not evaluate or deal with any of the consequences…that is something I could not support,” Rev. Sharpton said. “I’m opposed to a widespread opt-out without real dialogue…I’m not for something that’s not been thought out and talked out.”

What It Means: Strong assessments are an important tool to provide parents and teachers with an accurate measure of student development and to identify learning needs before they become problematic. Assessments that support rigorous college- and career-ready standards provide constructive data to ensure that educators’ efforts to teach to the higher standards are successful – and allow educators the information they need to meet the needs of individual students. Rev. Sharpton and Mr. Lomax both emphasize that efforts to have students opt-out of exams impede accountability measures and subvert the goal of ensuring students of all backgrounds have access to a high-quality education.

Education Week, “Why Colleges Should Care about the Common Core”: Harold Levine, dean of the school of education at the University of California Davis, and Michael Kirst, president of the California State Board of Education, say CCSS “will produce larger numbers of college-ready (and career-ready) students” but “only if the colleges and universities they are entering are ready for them.” “Higher education has only recently begun to appreciate the breadth of the potential impacts of the Common Core on their own practices,” the piece states, through there is “across-the-board” support among the higher education community. The authors say they have concern about college entry courses not being aligned to “take advantage of the new style of learning and teaching engendered by the Common Core.” “What will be characteristic of common-core students entering college are learning experiences featuring more inquiry-based learning and collaborative problem-solving, sequenced skills by grade level and learning across the curriculum and more hands-on work.” They conclude, “It’s now time to ensure that when the common core creates more “college ready” students, the colleges they enter are ready for them—and what they know and don’t know, and how they have been taught to learn.”

What It Means: CCSS enjoy broad support from the higher education community, which recognizes the importance of raising education standards to reduce remediation rates and better ensure students are prepared for college-level work. Higher education representatives in many states – including Washington, California, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Tennessee and West Virginia – have all voiced their support for the higher standards. As states transition to teach material fully aligned to the Standards, colleges and universities are recalibrating their programs to align with the preparation of incoming students – and some have even pledged to use the new Common Core-aligned assessments for placement in credit-bearing courses.

New York Post, “Common Core Tests Raise the Bar for All Students”: Much of the criticism about CCSS is based on misleading information that has become “one unified conspiracy theory,” writes Sol Stern, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. “Common Core is neither a right-wing nor left-wing plot. And its demise would harm the country’s schools.” Noting “Common Core is not a curriculum, as many critics have falsely claimed,” Stern says the Standards present a “golden opportunity and a challenge for states and school districts to rethink what is taught in their classrooms.” “Because of that instructional guideline, there is now at least the possibility of a serious discussion in the schools about the role of academic content knowledge…In short, if we don’t ask more of our students, if we don’t set certain benchmarks and expect a standard level of knowledge, how can we hope that our schools will get better?”

What It Means: Like Stern, numerous education experts have underscored that criticism of the Standards and high-quality assessments has relied on misleading and inaccurate information, which has drowned out constructive debate about student outcomes. The Standards do not dictate curriculum and were created free of federal involvement. Teachers who have worked closely with them overwhelmingly support their implementation.

Ed Source, “A Great Awakening for History and Social Studies”: CCSS emphasize on nonfiction texts and cross-curriculum collaboration is helping to reinvigorate history and social studies subjects, teachers say. “Common Core gives us permission to finally teach history and not pretend it is another English class,” says Andrew Pegan, an eighth-grade history teacher. CCSS put a greater emphasis on nonfiction writing, citing evidence and comprehension of complex texts, which history and social studies teachers have traditionally taught, the article reports. Previously, “History became English Part II,” Pegan says. Now, classes are examining “photos, primary sources, read[ing] oral histories and texts” and forming their own ideas, says Jennifer Brouhard, another California history teacher. CCSS helps to break down classroom walls and encourage collaboration across subjects, helping students make connections between learning, the article reports.

What It Means: By setting high academic expectations and allowing students and teachers to collaborate better across subjects, CCSS help ensure more students develop skills to succeed at higher levels of learning and ultimately graduate high school prepared for college or a career. A Scholastic study found more than two-thirds of teachers who have worked closely with CCSS report an improvement in students’ critical thinking and reasoning abilities, and more than eight in 10 support implementation.

Education Post, “More Fizzle than Spark: GOP Efforts to Sink Common Core Are Failing”: Karen Nussle, executive director of the Collaborative for Student Success, notes that more than three months into the 2015 legislative session “virtually none of the [CCSS] repeal threats have materialized.” “Since January, efforts to repeal the standards have fizzled in no fewer than a dozen states, two-thirds of which have legislative chambers and the governor’s office under unified Republican control,” the memo emphasizes, including 10 states that Mitt Romney won by an average of 19.65% in the 2012 election. “The debate over whether the standards will survive appears to be settled: Common Core standards are here to stay.” The analysis attributes the resilience to “a sizable schism between public support for voluntary K-12 standards…and the moniker ‘Common Core’”; the fact “public policymakers intent on repealing Common Core invariably are confronted with the reality that the public fundamentally supports higher standards”; and opponents “have shown a remarkable propensity to inaccurately describe the Standards.” Though states may still entertain debate or vote on repeal bills, “we’re unlikely to see any kind of mass movement away from this critically important initiative.”

What It Means: Contrary to opponents’ narrative that momentum is building to get rid of CCSS, all but one of the 45 states to initially adopt the Standards continue to use them or a very similar version. Republican leadership in many of the most conservative states, which conventional wisdom said would lead a national movement to repeal the Standards, have voted down such efforts. As Nussle’s memo points out, that’s because the public overwhelmingly supports high education standards, opponents’ dishonest attacks have come to light, and CCSS are based on the best practices and information available to prepare students for college or a career.

Arizona Republic, “Stop Fighting Common Core and Focus on Issues”: Former Gov. Jan Brewer and Rebecca Gau, executive director of Stand for Children Arizona, write that five years after their adoption the Arizona College and Career Ready Standards, which are structured on CCSS, “have changed the face of our classrooms.” “However, for three straight legislative sessions, certain members within the Arizona Legislature have sought to destroy the foundation we’ve worked so hard to create for our students’ future,” the piece says. “The academic standards in Arizona are not a takeover by the federal government or corporate America. They are rigorous, tested and responsible expectations for what our students should be learning in order to prepare them for college and to compete for work.” Noting that the standards will undergo another round of review “by Arizonans, in Arizona,” the authors conclude, “We hope this Legislature can move away from disrupting progress and on to ensuring every student has access to a high-quality educational experience.”

What It Means: Brewer and Gau, who oversaw Arizona’s initial implementation of the Arizona College and Career Ready Standards, make clear that the standards set higher classroom expectations while retaining local control of education issues. Through five years of preparation and two national elections, states like Arizona have rejected politically-motivated efforts to repeal the Standards. As the Collaborative’s Karen Nussle points out, one reason is that “policymakers intent on repealing Common Core invariably are confronted with the reality that the public fundamentally supports higher standards.”

New York Daily News, “Opting Your Kid Out Risks Her Future – and Every Other Kid’s, Too”: Despite doing “everything right on paper,” Michael Lomax, CEO of the United Negro College Fund and former president of Dillard University, says that many incoming college freshmen find “high school had not adequately prepared many of them for the demands” of college-level work. Only 5% of African-American students who enroll in college are ready for the demands of five for-credit college courses. Lomax says higher K-12 standards and high-quality assessments are changing that reality, but opt out movements deprive parents of “knowing their children’s strengths and weaknesses while there’s still time before college to address these issues.” “By opting out, parents do a disservice to all children, not just their own,” the piece states. “Without an ample number of test takers, we will lose perspective on how our children are truly doing against the higher bar.” This weekend, Rev. Al Sharpton criticized teachers’ unions for urging parents to opt-out, saying a boycott could hurt urban children, the New York Post reports. “For them to arbitrarily say ‘opt out’ and not evaluate or deal with any of the consequences…that is something I could not support,” Rev. Sharpton said. “I’m opposed to a widespread opt-out without real dialogue…I’m not for something that’s not been thought out and talked out.”

What It Means: Strong assessments are an important tool to provide parents and teachers with an accurate measure of student development and to identify learning needs before they become problematic. Assessments that support rigorous college- and career-ready standards provide constructive data to ensure that educators’ efforts to teach to the higher standards are successful – and allow educators the information they need to meet the needs of individual students. Rev. Sharpton and Mr. Lomax both emphasize that efforts to have students opt-out of exams impede accountability measures and subvert the goal of ensuring students of all backgrounds have access to a high-quality education.

Education Week, “Why Colleges Should Care about the Common Core”: Harold Levine, dean of the school of education at the University of California Davis, and Michael Kirst, president of the California State Board of Education, say CCSS “will produce larger numbers of college-ready (and career-ready) students” but “only if the colleges and universities they are entering are ready for them.” “Higher education has only recently begun to appreciate the breadth of the potential impacts of the Common Core on their own practices,” the piece states, through there is “across-the-board” support among the higher education community. The authors say they have concern about college entry courses not being aligned to “take advantage of the new style of learning and teaching engendered by the Common Core.” “What will be characteristic of common-core students entering college are learning experiences featuring more inquiry-based learning and collaborative problem-solving, sequenced skills by grade level and learning across the curriculum and more hands-on work.” They conclude, “It’s now time to ensure that when the common core creates more “college ready” students, the colleges they enter are ready for them—and what they know and don’t know, and how they have been taught to learn.”

What It Means: CCSS enjoy broad support from the higher education community, which recognizes the importance of raising education standards to reduce remediation rates and better ensure students are prepared for college-level work. Higher education representatives in many states – including Washington, California, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Tennessee and West Virginia – have all voiced their support for the higher standards. As states transition to teach material fully aligned to the Standards, colleges and universities are recalibrating their programs to align with the preparation of incoming students – and some have even pledged to use the new Common Core-aligned assessments for placement in credit-bearing courses.

New York Post, “Common Core Tests Raise the Bar for All Students”: Much of the criticism about CCSS is based on misleading information that has become “one unified conspiracy theory,” writes Sol Stern, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. “Common Core is neither a right-wing nor left-wing plot. And its demise would harm the country’s schools.” Noting “Common Core is not a curriculum, as many critics have falsely claimed,” Stern says the Standards present a “golden opportunity and a challenge for states and school districts to rethink what is taught in their classrooms.” “Because of that instructional guideline, there is now at least the possibility of a serious discussion in the schools about the role of academic content knowledge…In short, if we don’t ask more of our students, if we don’t set certain benchmarks and expect a standard level of knowledge, how can we hope that our schools will get better?”

What It Means: Like Stern, numerous education experts have underscored that criticism of the Standards and high-quality assessments has relied on misleading and inaccurate information, which has drowned out constructive debate about student outcomes. The Standards do not dictate curriculum and were created free of federal involvement. Teachers who have worked closely with them overwhelmingly support their implementation.

Ed Source, “A Great Awakening for History and Social Studies”: CCSS emphasize on nonfiction texts and cross-curriculum collaboration is helping to reinvigorate history and social studies subjects, teachers say. “Common Core gives us permission to finally teach history and not pretend it is another English class,” says Andrew Pegan, an eighth-grade history teacher. CCSS put a greater emphasis on nonfiction writing, citing evidence and comprehension of complex texts, which history and social studies teachers have traditionally taught, the article reports. Previously, “History became English Part II,” Pegan says. Now, classes are examining “photos, primary sources, read[ing] oral histories and texts” and forming their own ideas, says Jennifer Brouhard, another California history teacher. CCSS helps to break down classroom walls and encourage collaboration across subjects, helping students make connections between learning, the article reports.

What It Means: By setting high academic expectations and allowing students and teachers to collaborate better across subjects, CCSS help ensure more students develop skills to succeed at higher levels of learning and ultimately graduate high school prepared for college or a career. A Scholastic study found more than two-thirds of teachers who have worked closely with CCSS report an improvement in students’ critical thinking and reasoning abilities, and more than eight in 10 support implementation.


 

Correcting the Record:

New York Post, “Common Core Tests Take the Imagination out of Education”: Calling CCSS a “sneaky idea” that “was (and still is) presented as a state-level project,” Peter Wood, president of the National Association of Scholars, say the Standards are “very much a curriculum.” “The Common Core standards are finely detailed, grade-by-grade specifications for what should be taught, how it should be taught and when it should be taught,” the piece says. “The content of the exams, of course, inevitably drives what the teachers teach…The rhetorical trickery is immediately recognizable…If our primary concern should be to foster the intellectual achievement of all students to the highest levels they are capable of attaining, then the Common Core is probably not the route forward.” Wood adds, “We won’t squeeze better educational “performance” from students by imposing a national regimen of standards and tests but will instead breed a deeper alienation and lassitude by taking away — or at least shrinking — the imaginative horizons of students, parents, teachers and the communities in which they live.”

Where They Went Wrong: CCSS set high learning goals for all students to better ensure that more students develop the skills to succeed at high levels and ultimately graduate high school prepared for college or a career. Contrary to Wood’s claims, the Standards were created free from any federal involvement, and teachers who have worked closely with them strongly support their implementation and largely seen an improvement in students’ critical thinking and reasoning skills. Wood’s claims that Common Core dictates “what should be taught, how it should be taught and when it should be taught,” are also erroneaous. Teachers are proving that there are a number of ways to teach each of the standards laid out under Common Core. In fact, Ed Trust’s Karin Chenoweth demonstrates how three different schools are teaching to the same standards in very different, and very creative, ways.

New York Post, “Affluent Parents Are against Common Core: Study”: An analysis by High Achievement New York finds that parents in New York’s wealthiest school districts were more likely to opt their children out of state assessments. Nine of the 10 school districts with the highest number of students refusing to take state exams were in affluent Long Island communities, the article reports. By comparison, none of the students in half of New York City’s school districts opted out of the exams, mostly in the poorest neighborhoods – in Harlem as well as much of the Bronx and Brooklyn. “The state assessments tied to Common Core standards are a vital part of making sure all of our students are advancing together towards career and college readiness,” High Achievement said in a statement.

Where They Went Wrong: While the article correctly characterizes the importance of high-quality assessments, it conflates opposition to exams with opposition to the Common Core Standards. While strong assessments are important to ensuring that students are learning to the higher standards – and despite of concerns of over-testing – parents overwhelming support high, comparable academic


 

On Our Reading List:

Wall Street Journal, “Poll: California Residents Support Performance Metrics over Teacher Tenure”: A poll by the University of Southern California found that Californians largely support using performance metrics instead of granting teacher tenure and seniority provisions. More than a third of respondents said tenure should be granted to teachers only after four to 10 years of teaching, and 38% said tenure shouldn’t be granted to teachers at all. Participants were evenly split on the use of standardized tests in public schools, with 47% saying tests hurt education and 46% saying they help, the article reports.