COMMON CORE STANDARDS DAILY UPDATE // APRIL 8, 2016
News You Can Use:
Opting Out Co-Opts Our Fight for Equity and Accountability / Education Post
Maintaining transparency in schools is vital for minority communities, writes Sharif El-Mekki, principal of Mastery Charter School in Philadelphia, which is why he encourages parents to “opt-in” to state assessments. “An annual state test is not the only item on my dashboard, but it is one that I will certainly look to in order to determine my child’s growth,” El-Mekki says. He points out high-quality assessments are necessary to “know how well we are educating the most vulnerable,” to advocate for civil rights, and to close achievement gaps. Like El-Mekki many civil rights groups have urged parents to participate in state assessments. “When we are finally going in the right direction, why would we even consider going back?” wrote Kati Haycock, president of the Education Trust.
Opting Your Kid Out? It Means Opting Out of Being a More Informed Parent / Huffington Post
Parents should know how their kids are doing in school, but “report cards and teacher conferences can only tell you so much,” writes Karin Chenoweth of the Education Trust. Without high-quality assessments, it can be a “bit of a crap shoot” whether students develop the skills and knowledge base they need to move on to higher level learning. Good tests empower parents and teachers to support students when and where they need it. Last year Karen Nussle explained, “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.” Writing in USA Today, Mike Petrilli added, “Parents should resist the siren song of those who want to use this moment of truth to attack the Common Core or the associated tests.”
Opt-Out Reality Check: Vast Majority of New York Students Are Taking 2016 Tests / The Seventy-Four Million
Contrary to opt-out advocate’s message, which has permeated media reporting, a vast majority of New York students are “opting in” to this year’s state assessments, write a group of parents. “Initial reports show no measurable increase in opt outs,” and many “poster districts” have seen a significant increase in the number of students taking the tests. Stakeholders need to continue to build confidence among parents, the authors conclude, but the question is whether opt-out advocates will be part of that work or “instead continue to make stilted arguments that further an ideological agenda.” Polling affirms parents support high-quality assessments, and as educators point out, tests aligned to high learning goals “are the kind we should want our children to take.”
Why April 12 Is an Important Date for the Future of Alabama Children / Huntsville Times
Alabama math teachers support the Common Core State Standards by a nine-to-one margin, according to a study by Alabama Council of Teachers of Mathematics. That’s why the April 12 run-off election between Alabama Board of Education candidates Jim Bonner and Jeffrey Newman is important, writes Jeremy Zelkowski, president of the ACTM. Newman has advocated that all children can learn and achieve, Zelkowski says, while Bonner put “false information in the public sector about education standards.” Bill Bennett, former U.S. Secretary of Education, wrote last year that misinformation has obscured honest debate about Common Core State Standards. “It is time for integrity and truth in this debate.”
Correcting the Record:
Despite Changes, Parents Still Opting Out of Common Core
Time Warner News Central NY
Parents in New York like Marie Thornton, the article erroneously suggests, are opting out of Common Core State Standards. A Legislative Gazette headline makes a similar claim: “Common Core Refusal Act Continues to Gain Support among New Yorkers.” One New York Assemblyman even introduced the “Common Core Refusal Act,” even though the legislation is aimed at testing policy, not the state’s education standards. Such reporting conflates some parents’ frustrations over testing policy with education standards. They are not the same. While opponents may try to use frustrations with over-testing to derail Common Core State Standards, parents strongly support rigorous learning goals. Here is where the articles, and others like them, get it wrong:
Correcting the Record: Tests Aren’t Standards
A Time Warner News article erroneously reports parents in New York are opting out of Common Core State Standards. A Legislative Gazette headline makes a similar claim: “Common Core Refusal Act Continues to Gain Support among New Yorkers.” One New York Assemblyman even introduced the “Common Core Refusal Act,” even though the legislation is aimed at testing policy, not the state’s education standards.
That kind of inaccurate reporting conflates some parents’ frustrations over testing policy with education standards. They are not the same. While opponents may try to use concern about over-testing to derail Common Core State Standards, evidence shows parents strongly support rigorous learning goals.
New York’s education officials determine the state’s testing policies. Over the past year, these leaders have made significant changes to state assessments to address parents’ concerns, including shortening the length of the tests, having 156 teachers review the content, and ensuring the results won’t be used to evaluate teachers or students until the 2019-20 school year.
Parents are have the right to opt their children out of New York’s assessments, even though doing so is harmful to students and schools. Parents cannot opt out of state education standards. New York’s Common Core State Standards set clear learning goals that establish what students should be able to achieve at each grade level in order to ultimately graduate from high-school fully prepared for college or a career.
New York voluntarily adopted the Common Core to ensure all students are held to expectations that prepare them for high levels of learning. And the standards are having success. Coupled with high-quality assessments, New York has significantly closed discrepancies between state-reported proficiency rates and those identified by the National Assessment of Educational Progress. A follow-up Honesty Gap report this year named New York as a “Top Truth Teller” for again reporting proficiency rates closely aligned to NAEP.
On Our Reading List:
Career and Technical Education in High School: Does It Improve Student Outcomes? / Thomas B. Fordham Institute
The Fordham Institute’s latest study, by University of Connecticut’s Shaun Dougherty, finds students with exposure to career and technical education (CTE) are more likely to graduate high school, enroll in a two-year college, become employed and earn higher wages. Students taking CTE classes are also just as likely to pursue a four-year degree as their peers, the study finds, and students who focus their CTE coursework are 21-percentage points more likely to graduate high school compared to similar students. “Due to many decades of neglect and stigma against old-school “vo-tech,” high-quality CTE is not a meaningful part of the high school experience of millions of American students. It’s time to change that,” the summary concludes.