COMMON CORE STANDARDS DAILY UPDATE // DECEMBER 4, 2015

News You Can Use:

US News & World Report, “Good Tests Are Good for Students”: All students should be prepared for college or a career upon graduating high school, no matter where they grow up or go to school, write Delaware Governor Jack Markell and former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue. “That’s why we led a bipartisan effort to develop the Common Core State Standards…However, any educator can tell you that setting accurate goals is just one piece of ensuring that our kids are prepared.” To ensure rigorous and consistent academic expectations meet student needs, states have also implemented high-quality assessments. “The new tests emphasize these skills and provide a more accurate measure of where our students are on their path to college and career readiness.” States are “setting a new baseline,” which reflects the skills and knowledge students need to be successful, and data from these new tests will empower teachers to “better serve students.” “Having an accurate measure of student performance is a necessary step for improving the quality of education all our students are receiving…We’re united in our belief that we’ve made enormous progress toward preparing all of our students to succeed, and we can’t stop now.”

What It Means: For a long time, states inflated indicators of student readiness by lowering the academic bar for students. Fortunately, most have begun to address the issue by implementing rigorous education standards and high-quality assessments. As Govs. Markell and Perdue point out, these new tests provide parents and teachers with one of the strongest tools to accurately measure student development and to provide support to students. Research conducted by the National Network of State Teachers of the Year found many of the country’s top educators strongly support these new tests over those states used before. Like Govs. Markell and Perdue, Karen Nussle explains, “States are finally measuring to levels that reflect what students need to know and be able to do,” and “for parents and educators, that should come as a welcome change.”

Raleigh News & Observer, “Common Core Not Executed Properly”: Implementation of Common Core State Standards in North Carolina has been complicated by “political agenda[s] and lack of transparency,” which were on full display during the Academic Standard Review Commission’s evaluation of the standards, writes Susan Perry Gurganus, a professor at the College of Charleston. Common Core “developers were concerned that mathematics texts were ‘a mile wide and an inch deep’ in order to include each state’s standards.” They do not dictate how teachers teach, but set “goals for each grade level and the critical processes of mathematics such as problem solving and reasoning.” “North Carolina’s problems have resided in not investing enough time and other resources in teacher and parent education during the introduction of the Common Core, exacerbated by various groups on the left and right trying to politicize something that should not be political.”

What It Means: Similar to implementation efforts in states across the country, critics in North Carolina have politicized the rollout of high, consistent education standards, complicating the work of teachers and administrators. Bill Bennett, former Secretary of Education, wrote earlier this year, “These distortions of the Common Core have taken a toll on the education reform movement towards more rigorous standards and those who embrace it…It is time for integrity and truth in this debate. The issue of honest standards of learning for our children is too important to be buried in an avalanche of misinformation and demonization.” In actuality, by introducing students to multiple problem-solving approaches, in addition to traditional techniques, Common Core State Standards ensure more students will develop the skills to succeed at high levels of learning, and ultimately graduate high school fully prepared for college and careers.


Correcting the Record:

Daily Caller, “Common Core Expert: House ‘Frankenstein’ Education Bill Hurts Kids”: Discussing the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act, which was approved by a vote of 359-64 in the U.S. House of Representatives this week, Erin Tuttle, an outspoken critic of Common Core State Standards, says the legislation “raises a white flag” and hands “liberal groups and teachers unions a huge victory.” “The Republican-controlled Congress is on the verge of passing a new legislative behemoth that will control public education for years to come,” Tuttle says. “There will be consequences of this bill throughout the years and [lawmakers] will be held responsible for it…We simply cannot allow Republican leadership to surrender control of public education for years to come without some kind of severe repercussions.” Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK), who voted against the bill, said in a statement, “I was disappointed that the Every Student Succeeds Act missed the opportunity to return control of our children’s education to where it belongs — states, local school districts, and ultimately, parents.”

Where They Went Wrong: One of the primary objectives of the Every Student Succeeds Act is to ensure state and local authorities have full control of education issues. Congressman John Kline, Chair of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, calls the agreement a “huge win for conservatives.” “We have to empower parents with choice, we have to reduce the huge federal footprint in education,” he said in an interview with former Education Secretary Bill Bennett. “The federal government should not be able to tell states what standards they can or cannot adopt. If states want to use Common Core, it is not the place of the federal government to tell them they cannot do that.”

East Rockaway Herald, “A Chance to Rethink Common Core”: The decision in Massachusetts to pursue an independent student assessment and reject “the battery of state exams required by the Common Core curriculum” was a “pathetic” move, the editorial board writes. “The Bay State is backpedaling – big time,” and now some in New York are calling for similar action. “We have seen many states struggle with the one-size-fits-all curriculum and high-stakes testing that has come along with the hasty implementation of the Common Core,” says New York Assemblyman Ed Ra. The editorial urges lawmakers to use restraint, however. “Diligent review, undertaken with students’ best interests in mind, is what is most needed now…It would be a mistake to now push through sweeping changes—in particular, outright rejection of the Common Core—without first developing a long-term game plan…There has been far too much waste already.”

Where They Went Wrong: The editorial board’s analysis mischaracterizes both the decision in Massachusetts to develop a hybrid assessment and implementation of Common Core State Standards in New York. Massachusetts Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester made clear his states has “not abandoned” PARCC or Common Core State Standards and that PARCC will remain a “substantial component” of the new hybrid assessment. Similarly, in New York, students have made steady gains under the Common Core. Last summer the New York Daily News wrote, “The chorus of ‘can’t’…was wrong. If responsible adults show fortitude, and if they have the sense to learn from schools that are making the biggest gains, children can and will achieve in ever-greater numbers.”


On Our Reading List:

Wall Street Journal, “New York Education Task Force Report Expected This Month”: The Common Core Task Force launched by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo expects to release its report this month. Richard Parsons, the committee’s chairman, said Wednesday the group was “in the middle of sausage making,” and hoped to deliver its report to the Governor within the next 10 days. The 15-member committee was not tasked with exploring the issue of teacher evaluations, but after the issue came up repeatedly in public hearings it may weigh in. “Most people in the state don’t even know what the Common Core actually is,” said Samuel Radford III, a member of the task force. “To the extent it was explained, people were supportive.” Last month, New York Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia reported that 70 percent of feedback provided through an online survey was supportive of the state’s Common Core standards.

US News & World Report, “The Real Immigration Debate”: Immigration policy affects the United States’ “present and future economic prospects,” and the effect has “more to do with education policy than anything else,” writes Conor Williams, director of New America’s Dual Language Learners National Work Group. “Consider, much of the country’s new diversity is the result of the children of immigrants…English language learners are one of the fastest growing groups in American schools…Many schools are struggling to update their instructional models to support these students’ linguistic and academic development.” In most cases, that’s because teachers are unfamiliar with alternatives to their current instruction. “Cities should be fighting to make their schools welcoming for young English language learners…We can’t afford to ignore the unique needs of multilingual children from immigrant families.”

Arizona Daily Sun, “Meeting Common Core Challenge in Arizona May Prove Especially Difficult”: Common Core State Standards are pushing students in Arizona to develop more critical thinking and problem-solving solving skills, but recent test results indicate a “yawning funding gap” to ensure students have the resources to succeed at the higher level of learning, the editorial board writes. “The days of the multiple-guess test requiring rote memorization are gone, but clearly students are struggling to adapt to tests that tap a new way of learning. Experience in other states that already have adopted the Common Core show similar low pass rates in the initial year, then steady improvement. But none of those states spends as little on public education as Arizona…The Common Core is a 21st-century curriculum in a state with a 20th-century school funding commitment.”