COMMON CORE STANDARDS DAILY UPDATE // APRIL 25, 2016

News You Can Use:

 

What Common Core Actually Means for Massachusetts’ History Standards / Collaborative for Student Success

Contrary to recent claims the Common Core does “much damage to history education,” a new blog by the Collaborative points out the standards only cover math and English language arts. In Massachusetts, the state curriculum framework includes separate history and social studies standards. “The teaching of U.S. history hasn’t gone anywhere especially in Massachusetts,” the piece notes. “And it won’t as long as Massachusetts continues to implement high standards.” Former U.S. Education Secretary Bill Bennett has pointed out that misinformation has clouded honest debate about the Common Core. “It is time for integrity and truth in this debate,” Bennett concludes.

Opting Out of Common Core Tests Is a Bad Idea / Fresno Bee
Parents have a right and a need to know whether their children are on track and how well schools are preparing students to become college- and career-ready, writes Kay Bertken, a Fresno parent. States have adopted rigorous education standards, and most are measuring students to those higher expectations. “We need to know whether our children are learning. It is hard to imagine that customers of any other business would campaign against quality assurance,” Bertken concludes. Louisiana superintendent John White agrees. Last fall he said, “States have adopted higher standards, states have tests that measure those standards and they’re comparable, so there can be an honest baseline.”

‘Opting Out’ Must Lead to More than Feel-Good Policies / Poughkeepsie Journal
International studies indicate U.S. students are losing ground to their counterparts in other countries, which is why opt-out efforts “are missing the point,” the editorial board writes. The way to change the trajectory is to set higher national achievement goals, find ways to help student meet those goals, and measure whether are successful in meeting those targets. A study by the National Network of State Teachers of the Year finds high-quality assessments most states are using better measure cognitive complexity, better align with classroom instruction and support great teaching—which is why support is growing for students to “opt in.”

Give Michigan Schools Stability with Testing / Detroit News
Michigan lawmakers seeking to replace the M-STEP assessments, which are aligned to the state’s Common Core Standards, would create a moving target for schools, the editorial board writes. “A consistent testing benchmark from year to year offers schools and parents the ability to measure student growth and compare one district with another.” High-quality assessments aligned to rigorous education standards are one of the best tools parents and teachers have to measure student development. As Karen Nussle wrote last fall, “States are finally measuring to levels that reflect what students need to know and be able to do to succeed in college or a career…Now is the time to stay the course.”

Revised Common Core Tests Spark Little Debate, No Widespread Boycotts This Year: ‘It’s a Lot Quieter’ / New Orleans Advocate
About 300,000 students in Louisiana will begin taking state assessments today with few calls to boycott the tests. Legislative efforts, which resulted in a review of the state’s Common Core Standards, helped “lower the temperature” ahead of this year’s assessments, the article reports. “The state has made some adjustments,” says Wesley Watts, a local superintendent. “I think it is going to help the testing environment.” Like many states, Louisiana is building on the Common Core framework to ensure students are held to college- and career-ready expectations. “When we are finally going in the right direction, why would we even consider going back?” Kati Haycock, president of the Education Trust, wrote last year.


 

Correcting the Record:

Race and the Standardized Testing Wars / New York Times
Although the opt-out movement has been concentrated among white, suburban populations, the “debate is becoming murkier,” the article reports. “While there is little evidence thus far of a major groundswell of nonwhite, urban students opting out of testing, the battle lines are clearly shifting.” “There are places where students just feel like it’s a jail,” says José Luis Vilson, a New York middle-school teacher. “Testing often exacerbates that, to the point that it doesn’t feel like you’re going to school to learn—you’re just going to take a test.”

However, opt-out efforts put at-risk students at risk. “There are constructive ways to improve education and accountability policies. Opting out is not one of them,” former U.S. Education Secretary Bill Bennett wrote this year. Here is where opt-out advocates get it wrong:

Opting Out Puts Students at Risk, and Does Nothing to Improve Student Assessments

Although opt-out efforts have been concentrated among white, suburban populations, the “debate is becoming murkier,” the New York Times reports. “While there is little evidence thus far of a major groundswell of nonwhite, urban students opting out of testing, the battle lines are clearly shifting.”

“There are places where students just feel like it’s a jail,” says José Luis Vilson, a New York middle-school teacher. “Testing often exacerbates that, to the point that it doesn’t feel like you’re going to school to learn—you’re just going to take a test.”

While many families have legitimate concerns about the volume of tests their children face, opting out of state assessments does not address those. In fact, it puts students are risk by degrading the information parents and teachers have about how well their kids are being prepared for high levels of learning.

“There are constructive ways to improve education and accountability policies. Opting out is not one of them,” former U.S. Education Secretary Bill Bennett wrote this year. “Refusing to participate in assessments puts students, parents, and teachers at a disadvantage, and it does little to address legitimate concerns about the quality and volume of state tests.”


 

On Our Reading List:

Kentucky School Board Chairman Accused of Cheating to Get His GED / ABC News
Police in Kentucky allege Dexter Smith, chairman of the Knox County School Board, had another person take the GED exam for him. Dexter agreed to take the test to address controversy about whether a diploma he bought online was real. The Kentucky Department of Education requires all school board members have a high school diploma or a GED. Smith signed a statement saying he met that requirement when running for office three years ago.