COMMON CORE STANDARDS DAILY UPDATE // FEBRUARY 2, 2015

News You Can Use:

Fox News Sunday, “Common Core: Debating the Merits”: Appearing across from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, former Sec. Bill Bennett says CCSS has been “vilified because there is a tremendous amount of misinformation about Common Core.” “A whole mythology has been built up around Common Core,” Bennett says. “They are state standards for math and reading by grade. That’s all they are…they say kids should focus on arithmetic in the early grades, learn how to count, multiple, divide and subtract, and in reading, they should emphasize phonics, the meaning of words and good clear expression.” In response to questions of whether CCSS were incentivized by RTTT funds, Bennett says conservatives are rightly suspicious of federal involvement, but CCSS were developed locally and are administered locally. Prior to CCSS, states had a “Lake Woebegone effect,” Bennett says, where about 85% of students graduated high school as “proficient” but only about 40% were deemed so at the college level. Chris Wallace points out the nine states with the highest rankings in education employ CCSS. Bennett ends by saying prior to CCSS, parents were given a dishonest assessment of how their children were doing. “Why not a voluntary basis of agreement for assessment…That’s why the states that are using them will continue to rise to the top.”

What It Means: CCSS were developed by and voluntarily adopted under state leadership, and states continue to tailor the Standards to their specific needs. As Sec. Bennett points out, prior to the Standards, states had a dishonest definition of proficiency that led to high rates of remediation and unprepared students for college or a good job. CCSS set higher expectations for all students to improve outcomes at each grade level.

CDA Press (ID), “Don’t Buy the Lies of Common Core Foes”: Years after CCSS were adopted by and implemented in Idaho, “blatant misinformation is still being spread by opponents,” writes Rod Gramer, president of Idaho Business for Education. Gramer rejects the idea the Standards will create a “federal curriculum.” “The standards are not a curriculum – they are a set of standards for what students should know in math and English. Local school leaders decide curriculum, just as they always have,” Gramer says. “The fact is the standards will help students think for themselves.” Instead of focusing on the political arguments about higher education standards, Gramer says the public discussion should address how CCSS will better prepare students for college and careers, and help reduce the need for and costs of remediation. “It is important for all of us to do our homework and get the facts, just as we expect our students to do,” he concludes.

What It Means: For more than 18 months, opponents have run targeted campaigns against CCSS, often based on misleading or inaccurate information. Even so, states like Idaho continue to move forward with implementation of the Standards because they promise to help better prepare students for college-level work and good careers by setting high expectations in core subjects. States like Kentucky and Tennessee, two of the earliest adopters of CCSS, student proficiency and college-readiness rates have made some of the biggest improvements under the Standards.

DNA Info, “Principal Blends the Arts and Common Core with a Dose of Mindful Breathing”: Victoria Armas, principal at City Knoll Middle School in New York, attributes the success of the new charter school to the rigor of CCSS. “The Core is really rigorous. It’s challenging and I really believe in the Common Core,” says Armas. “It kind of standardized the standards across the U.S., so a child that’s studying in New York is going to have the same standards if they go to Denver, Colorado, and I think that’s a good thing.” Armas points out CCSS-aligned assessments are more rigorous, but don’t add more tests. At City Knoll, educators prepare students by embedding content into everyday learning and monitoring student progress. “[Students] are ready for [exams] by the time they do it,” Armas says. She adds teachers develop and control curricula and materials, ensuring they are able to respond to student needs.

What It Means: Schools like City Knoll are having success with CCSS because the Standards help ensure all students are held to high expectations that prepare them for higher levels of learning. As Armas points out, CCSS give local authorities control of what materials are used and how they are taught, giving teachers the flexibility to accommodate student needs.


 

On Our Reading List:

Bloomberg, “Iowa Republicans: ObamaCare and Terrorism Sizzle while Social Issues Still Matter”: According to a Bloomberg-Des Moines Register poll, a majority of Republican voters in Iowa oppose CCSS, but most don’t see the issue as a “deal-breaker.” Only 7% of Republicans and 10% of Democrats identify implementation of the Standards as one of the most important issues in the next election. Respondents say issues like terrorism (43% of Republicans) and addressing the Affordable Care Act (45% of Republicans) are more likely to impact how they vote. Democrats ranked unemployment and jobs and climate change as the top issues the next president must address.

Times Picayune, “On Common Core, Gov. Bobby Jindal Urges Louisiana School Board to Offer Alternative Test”: On Friday, Gov. Bobby Jindal urged the Louisiana board of education to allow alternative students assessments to CCSS-aligned tests. Jindal, who opposes the national Common Core academic standards, has no legal authority of the school board, so he used an executive order to issue a strong suggestion for testing alternatives, rather than a requirement for other assessment options, the article reports. “His executive order is worth only the paper it is written on,” said Chas Roemer, president of the school board.

Northwest Herald, “Lake in the Hills Teacher Developing Common Core Lessons”: Lori Knasiak, a middle school teacher in Illinois, is among 65 teachers participating in the National Education Association’s Sciene Master Teacher project, which helps develop materials to help educators prepare for new science standards. Although focused on science, Knasiak says her works utilizes elements from CCSS, including greater comparability and collaboration. “Now, [students] really need to actively find that information and know how to think about it at a deep level. They need to be able to apply it,” Knasiak says of initiatives like Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and CCSS. “I think the engagement is far higher because this kind of learning allows you to do a lot more projects that allows kids to have a lot of choice and freedom. They are able to collaborate with each other, which is an essential skill in the world today.” (Note: the headline indicates Knasiak is helping develop material for CCSS, but she is actually working with NGSS. Common Core Standards only relate to math and English language arts.)

Hechinger Report, “Worried Common Core Is Pushing Fiction Out?”: Although CCSS encourage more non-fiction texts, teachers are finding ways to incorporate fiction to augment instruction in other subjects. Lev Fruchter, a STEM teacher in New York, uses science-related fiction stories to reinforce math concepts. “The way I’ve always understood things was through stories and I’ve found that works for my students too,” says Fruchter. As the article notes, CCSS require students use more non-fiction texts across all subjects, while still ensuring exposure to classical literature in English language arts classes.

Whiteboard Advisors, “America’s College Promise, Student Data Privacy & K-12 Priorities”: A survey of “education insiders” finds 92% of respondents believe the President’s proposal to give millions of students free community college tuition is very or somewhat unlikely to be enacted. Most cited the high costs and the perception that expanding access won’t help improve student outcomes. It “doesn’t address anything related to the readiness gap,” one respondent noted. “In terms of policy, it may not be the most effective way to boost college opportunity and success,” added another.