COMMON CORE STANDARDS DAILY UPDATE // FEBRUARY 5, 2015

News You Can Use:

Great Schools, “Milestone Videos”: A new series of more than 120 videos from the non-profit group Great Schools outlines expectations set forth by CCSS in grades K-5 and provides teachers and parents a resource to “ensure children are on track by showing what success looks like in core disciplines.” The videos examine expectations at each grade level, and provide easy-to-understand tutorials to help measure how well students are doing in those areas. For example, a first-grade math clip explains that students should learn concepts of digits by tens and ones, and gradually begin to use that understanding to move basic math functions like addition and subtraction.

What It Means: Tools like the Milestone videos help parents and teachers better understand the principles behind CCSS so they can help their children meet expectations and ensure they are on a path to develop the building blocks for higher learning.

Education Post, “Guess What, Mom? Common Core Can Be Good for Your Kindergartener”: In response to a piece posted by Valerie Strauss in which a mother raises concerns CCSS require “kids develop reading skills at the same pace,” Erika Sanzi says that as a mother she empathizes with concerns about young children, but “I am just not one of the mothers able to agree or stand with her on this.” “The evidence in Common Core-aligned classrooms…doesn’t bear this out,” says Sanzi, a mother of three. She points out many schools use scales to measure reading levels, and most early classrooms and libraries cater to more than 20 levels of student ability. “It’s hard to imagine that anyone expects all kids to be at the same place at the same time.” Sanzi cites Pat D’Alfonso, a Rhode Island ELA specialist, who notes: “The standards were written as the ‘what.’ Every teacher recognizes that the ‘how’ is different for each student, regardless of the ‘what’ that is being taught.”

What It Means: CCSS do set more rigorous standards for students throughout K-12, but they also ensure local educators control how and what is taught in classrooms, giving teachers the ability to make sure students of all levels are able to make progress. A recent Scholastic study found more than two-thirds of teachers who have worked closely with CCSS report seeing an improvement in their students’ basic reasoning and critical thinking skills.

Grand Forks Herald, “Conservatives, of All People, Should Support Common Core”: The editorial board writes that the fact conservative thinkers like E.D. Hirsch and the Thomas B. Fordham Institute support CCSS is evidence the Standards are sound conservative policy. “Common Core represents the best chance in a generation to put Hirsch’s landmark ideas in place,” the piece notes. Noting some on the left have endorsed Hirsch’s ideas after years of failed attempts to improve educational outcomes, leading some conservatives to oppose CCSS ideologically, the editorial says, “If that’s the case, then conservatives should be ashamed, because it’s not reason enough…Here’s to hoping those allies come to their senses, and recognize Common Core as the back-to-basics, ‘core knowledge’ approach that conservative reformers have been advocating for years.”

What It Means: CCSS began as, and remain, a state-led initiative. Across the country, states are taking ownership of the Standards by reviewing them, building on them further, and tailoring them to their specific needs. States like South Carolina and Oklahoma that opted to replace the Standards largely on political motivations have experienced big setbacks and risk putting their students at a disadvantage by reverting back to inferior academic standards.

Statesman, “9+6: Keeping Score on Common Core”: In response to Gov. Greg Abbott’s comments on Fox News Sunday, in which he directs viewers to a video he says overcomplicates the addition problem 9+6 – which PolitiFact refuted (the strategy outlined in the video “has long been best practice for early childhood math” and “match up with Texas’ state standards for first grade math,” it notes) – Jonathan Tilove goes further to say, “At the very least, I think it should be labeled “half false,” or maybe, “half true but thoroughly misleading.” Tilove points out CCSS do not change requirements that student memorize single-digit addition, as Gov. Abbott suggests. The Google search Gov. Abbot asks viewers to make yields plenty of sites flagrantly attacking the Standards, which underscores Bill Bennett’s argument that much of the opposition to the Standards is based on misleading information, Tilove notes.

What It MeansAs the article and the PolitiFact fact-check point out, Gov. Abbot’s charges don’t add up. CCSS ensure students learn traditional math techniques, like memorization and multiplication tables, while also introducing students to other learning stratagem, like base-ten methods, to help provide a better conceptual understanding of numbers and functions.


Correcting the Record:

Washington Post, “Americans Are Pretty Bad at Math. Especially Young Americans”: According to the OECD Survey of Adult Skills, the United States ranked near the bottom on the numeracy assessment, outperforming only two other countries. “Interestingly, it’s the younger cohorts who are dragging U.S. numeracy scores down,” the article notes. “Among those aged 16 to 24, Americans scored the worst of any country, and among those aged 25 to 34, Americans had the second-lowest score.”

Where They Went Wrong: The study confirms what educators and experts have long known: the status quo in American education is leaving young people woefully unprepared in basic competencies, causing us to fall behind other developed countries. CCSS were created to hold all students to higher academic expectations and ensure they are truly proficient in math and reading upon graduating high school.


 

On Our Reading List:

Washington Post, “Americans Are Pretty Bad at Math. Especially Young Americans”: According to the OECD Survey of Adult Skills, the United States ranked near the bottom on the numeracy assessment, outperforming only two other countries. “Interestingly, it’s the younger cohorts who are dragging U.S. numeracy scores down,” the article notes. “Among those aged 16 to 24, Americans scored the worst of any country, and among those aged 25 to 34, Americans had the second-lowest score.”

Wall Street Journal, “Common Core Linked Tests Spur Schools to Teach Typing”: Formal typing classes are making a comeback in many classrooms as schools prepare to administer computer-based CCSS-aligned assessments. “Because of testing, we needed to do something a little bit more serious with our keyboarding,” says one New Jersey teacher. “If [typing] hasn’t been a priority for schools, they are realizing now that it is one,” says Luci Willits, a director at Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.

The Hill, “Jeb Bush Gives Impassioned Defense of His Education Record”: Speaking at the Detroit Economic Club on Wednesday, Gov. Jeb Bush deviated from prepared remarks to defend his record on education reform. Gov. Bush signaled he intends to combat criticism about his support for CCSS by highlighting his achievements in office, the article notes. “The net result after 10 years of struggle, and believe me, the tire marks are on my forehead for this reason, is that we moved the needle in student learning,” Gov. Bush said. “We raised expectations and standards, and we assessed faithfully to those standards. We made sure that every child counted in the system, that they weren’t cast aside if they were struggling readers or had problems.” A spokesperson said Gov. Bush’s remarks were not a defense of CCSS in particular, but that he supports the higher standards .

Times Picayune, “Bobby Jindal, Others Want Special Louisiana School Board Meeting on Common Core Tests”: Gov. Jindal, the Louisiana School Boards Association, and leaders of the state’s teachers union called on the BESE to schedule a special meeting on CCSS-aligned tests in the state. Last week Gov. Jindal issued an executive order urging the BESE to offer alternatives to CCSS exams. “It’s time for the Department of Education and BESE to really listen to the repeated concerns from parents about Common Core and the [test]. Parents and teachers have clearly articulated their frustrations at meetings across the state and many of them are loudly voicing their opposition to these tests,” Gov. Jindal said.

Ed Week, “A Map of States’ 2015 Testing Plans: The Dust Has Finally Settled”: The article provides an interactive map outlining what tests states are using in the 2014-15 school year.