COMMON CORE STANDARDS DAILY UPDATE // JANUARY 14, 2015

News You Can Use:

Educators for Higher Standards, “Common Core State Standards Level the Playing Field”: Michigan middle-school teacher Matt Moll is more excited now to be an educator than at any other time during his 14 year career. “I am excited because the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are leveling the playing field for students in Michigan and across the country,” he writes. Growing up, Moll moved frequently. “I suffered from the differences in quality and expectations in public schools,” he says. “Our country and our states need to provide students with a strong, rigorous, and common set of achievable goals, while helping transient families achieve a strong public education. I can tell you from my experience that the Common Core State Standards are making that a reality.”

What It Means: CCSS create a baseline for academic expectations, so that a student in Mississippi will have a more equal chance of receiving a high-quality education as his or her peers in Massachusetts, or any other state to adopt the Standards. Like Moll, most teachers who have worked closely with CCSS support their implementation and report they have seen improvements in students’ ability to think critically and use reasoning skills.

Grand Forks Herald, “Common Core Critic Flunks Core Test: Accuracy”: In response to a recent opinion piece (“ND Can Do Better than Common Core”) by Jane Robbins of the American Principles Project, Andy Peterson says it is offensive Robbins would insinuate the state’s educators “are uninformed, too stupid to advocate for our students and guilty of handing our autonomy over to powerful interests in Washington.” Peterson notes teachers, “the experts on North Dakota education,” support CCSS. “The reality is this: Common Core is an initiative forwarded by governors, educators and the business community…it challenges teachers to make sure each and every student has the academic competencies to either go directly to work or on to higher education upon graduation from high school.” In North Dakota, CCSS went through a two-year vetting process, and 60-member committee determined the standards were the most rigorous option. Peterson concludes, “North Dakota students, parents, educators, owners and operators deserve better than to be intimidated by ultra-right-wing Washington organizations.”

What It Means: As Peterson points out, CCSS were developed through collaboration among educators and experts from across the country, and states voluntarily adopted the Standards after a thorough review process. Analysis has repeatedly refuted claims CCSS represent a federal intrusion into local education issues, and after two national elections states like North Dakota continue to support the Standards (and leaders who support them).


 

Correcting the Record:

Nevada Appeal, “Common Core Debated in Carson City”: At an education forum in Las Vegas, Sandra Stotsky and James Milgram criticized CCSS, saying it would be easier and cheaper for states to adopt Massachusetts’ old education standards on an interim basis. The state’s deputy superintendent Steve Canavero disagreed. “Our challenge is not to debate the merits of our actions taken four years ago,” Cavenero said. “The challenge is the implementation of our standards.” He added states can build on CCSS further. Stotsky encouraged parents to opt their children out of CCSS-aligned testing, and both she and Milgram said the Standards “weren’t quite the worst in the country, but they were close.” The article reports Nevada teachers were barred from participating in the event, preventing them from sharing their experiences with CCSS. “This is the only time I’ve had teachers silenced,” said Canavero. “I find that appalling, personally.”

Where They Went Wrong: Stotsky and Milgram are wrong, and disingenuous, to say CCSS are weaker than most states’ previous standards. Milgram himself even said previously, “The reality is that they [CCSS] are better than 85 or 90 percent of the state standards they replaced. Not a little better. A lot better.” It’s more than a little hypocritical the two would criticize the Standards as being developed behind closed doors (as the article points out, CCSS were available for multiple rounds of public input, and they have remained intact through two national elections) when they refused to allow teachers to share their experiences working with the Standards

Ed Week, “The Common Core Standards’ Undemocratic Push”: Citing Albert Hirschman’s Exit, Voice, and Loyalty, Williamson Evers writes CCSS have taken away the public’s voice and exit options in education. “The common core’s [sic] designers have taken the existing bureaucracy and increased its centralization and uniformity,” Evers says. “The general public had no voice in creating or adopting the common core…[and] the common core’s proponents have created an almost inescapable national cartel.” He adds CCSS tests “function to police the cartel.” Monopolies have long been a problem in education, Evers says, but before adopting comparable standards states had greater competitive federalism “meaning horizontal competition among jurisdictions.”

Where They Went Wrong: Evers mischaracterizes that CCSS limit public choice and voice. The Standards were developed by educators and experts from 48 states and went through multiple rounds of public input. After two national elections, all but one of the 45 states to initially adopt the Standards continue to use them, or some rebranded version. Comparable standards actually provide better school choice by giving families the tools to compare “apples-to-apples” how well their child’s school is performing relative to others across the country.


 

On Our Reading List:

NPR, “North Carolina Rethinks the Common Core”: There is little consensus on the North Carolina panel tasked with reviewing the state’s use of Common Core whether to tweak the standards or fully replace them. “Do I believe that the Common Core standards need to be replaced? Are not good? No. I don’t believe that at all,” said Andre Peek, a committee member appointed by Gov. McCrory. “And I can tell you right now that we’re not going to be used as a tool for some political outcome.” Jeannie Metcalf, another member, disagrees. “[Scrapping CCSS is] clearly what we are charged with and the intent of the legislation and of the commission,” she says. Meanwhile, teachers continue to support and use the Standards, the article reports. “The collaboration, teamwork, the problem solving skills, the thinking-through and analysis that [students] are doing applies to everything we do in life,” says Amy Cuthbertson, a ninth grade math teacher.

Tennessean, “Lamar Alexander Starts No Child Left Behind Rewrite”: Sen. Lamar Alexander, chairman of the Senate HELP Committee, released his proposal for rewriting NCLB requirements on Tuesday. Under Sen. Alexander’s bill, the Department of Education would not be able to determine which tests and academic standards states adopt through waivers from NCLB or financial incentives. On Monday, Sec. Arne Duncan said the Administration will push for yearly student assessments. Sen. Alexander said his proposal would allow states to decide whether to use CCSS. “If Tennessee wants Common Core, it should have it. If not, it shouldn’t have it,” he told reporters.

Daily Caller, “Walker Tackles Common Core and Government Efficiency”: In his State of the State address on Tuesday, Gov. Scott Walker called on the lawmakers to pass legislation to ensure CCSS are not mandated for school districts. “I call on the members of the state legislature to pass legislation making it crystal clear that no school district is required to use Common Core standards,” Gov. Walker said. “Going forward, I want to eliminate any requirements to use Common Core…standards should be set by people from within Wisconsin – and preferably at the local level.” A poll by the conservative Wisconsin Policy Research Institute found 62% of respondents in the state support CCSS; support was actually slightly lower when the term “Common Core” was not used.

Ed Week, “With Common Core, More States Sharing Test Questions”: Item-sharing among states is becoming more commonplace among those using CCSS, the article reports. States with limited reserves of test questions have turned to others like Kentucky, which began developing tests earlier, to draw on their resources. The articles notes, for example, Georgia has borrowed from Kentucky’s “assortment of open-ended questions” since its previous exams had been multiple choice. Experts point out the agreements save time and money by preventing states from having to continually develop new questions.

Wall Street Journal, “Rand Paul Names Top Campaign Aide, Launches 3-State Tour”: As part of a tour through New Hampshire, Arizona and Nevada, Sen. Rand Paul will meet with Common Core opponents in NH on Wednesday. Sen. Paul has also been actively trying to associate Jeb Bush with CCSS, suggesting Gov. Bush’s support will be “a deal-breaker” in the Republican primary.

Times Picayune, “5 Key Questions for Republican Candidates in the Race for Louisiana House District 66”: At a forum in which the three Republicans vying for the Louisiana District 66 House seat appeared together for the first time, none of the participants mentioned CCSS when asked, if you could pass one piece of legislation this year what would it be? All three said they support high education standards, but found problems with the rollout of CCSS.