COMMON CORE STANDARDS DAILY UPDATE // APRIL 6, 2016

News You Can Use:

New Common Core Video Series Shows How Kids Today Learn Math a Better Way / The Seventy-Four Million

To help parents familiarize themselves with changes to math instruction occurring as states implement Common Core State Standards a video series explains the purpose of the changes. Students are being taught to imagine numbers differently start in early grades, explains Kris Hemstetter. “In order for kids to understand math, they need to make connections,” Hemstetter points out. Like a house, she says, students need a strong foundation from which they can build connections to higher level material. The videos go on to examine the particular changes to instruction and the reasons behind them. Like Hemstetter, an analysis by the Collaborative for Student Success notes that is important for students to learn math through different approaches so they “develop a full understanding of the concepts before they move on to more challenging levels.”


Correcting the Record:

School Choice: Fig Leaf of the Pro-Common Core Right / New Boston Post

Efforts to decentralize education are not enough to undo the pestilent Common Core State Standards, Sandra Stotsky argues. “The truth is that mediocre standards, a poor curriculum based on them, and academically under-qualified teachers are the biggest problems facing our schools–and they are likely to persist even with decentralization.” Stotsky alleges that the Every Student Succeeds Act “all but guarantees” the Common Core will remain in place in most states. In Massachusetts, Stotsky encourages parents to support a ballot initiative to repeal the standards. But doing so would put the states’ students at a disadvantage and likely result in weaker academic expectations. Here is where Stotsky gets it wrong:

Ballot Initiative

Efforts to decentralize education are not enough to undo the pestilent Common Core State Standards, Sandra Stotsky claims in the New Boston Post. “The truth is that mediocre standards, a poor curriculum based on them, and academically under-qualified teachers are the biggest problems facing our schools–and they are likely to persist even with decentralization.”

Stotsky argues parents should fight “elites” by supporting a Massachusetts ballot initiative that would repeal the state’s Common Core Standards. “Dissident parents and educators will need to be vigilant if they are to ensure that Common Core is not re-imposed through the back door.”

Stotsky’s advice risks putting Massachusetts on a path similar to that of Oklahoma, which created a great deal of uncertainty and disruption in classrooms only to come out with standards inferior to the Common Core. “Attempting to appease politically-charged critics…[Oklahoma ended up with] a final product that experts say lacks the depth and rigor needed for 21st century students,” Karen Nussle explains in a recent memo.

A white paper by the Collaborative for Student Success notes the evidence from the only states to replace the Common Core—Indiana, Oklahoma and South Carolina—shows there are only two outcomes from such an ill-advised path: a rebranding of the Common Core, or, new standards that are inferior to Common Core State Standards.

Massachusetts voluntarily adopted Common Core State Standards because they hold all students to levels that prepare them to graduate high school ready for college or a career, and they empower educators and parents to compare how well their schools are doing to others across the country. And they are having an impact.

An analysis by Achieve found more than half of states significantly closed their “Honesty Gaps” by implementing rigorous standards and high-quality assessment. Massachusetts was recognized as a “Top Truth Teller” for reporting proficiency rates closely aligned to those found by NAEP.

Parents and policymakers in Massachusetts have a choice: they can allow politically motivated pressure to replace the Common Core with inferior standards, or, they can continue to refine and build on the success of high standards and accurate student assessments, as most states across the country have.


On Our Reading List:

Literature’s Emotional Lessons / The Atlantic

Emotional responses should be part of students’ learning, writes Andrew Simmons, a high school teacher. “Books should never be viewed strictly as opportunities for students to learn skills,” Simmons says. Common Core State Standards “push students to become clinical crafters of arguments and masters of academic language,” and also encourage non-fiction reading alongside fiction. The point of reading, Simmons says, should be to elicit emotional and logical responses from students, which too often is not the focus