COMMON CORE STANDARDS DAILY UPDATE // JANUARY 22, 2015

News You Can Use:

Tennessean, “Tennessee’s ‘Front-Running’ Schools Earn National Attention”: James Dittes, a Sumner teacher and vocal supporter of CCSS, writes that Tennessee’s academic gains under the Standards have drawn national attention. In 2013, Tennessee made the biggest improvements in fourth- and eighth-grade proficiency rates on the NAEP exam and the largest gains since 2001. Dittes says the state’s focus on providing educational opportunity for all students coupled with Common Core Standards to create a “Tennessee renaissance in our children’s generation.” “This is a big moment for Tennessee,” adds Peter Kannam, a partner at America Achieves. “Tennessee has made a lot of improvements.” Dittes will host two more sessions to help orient parents to CCSS this month.

What It Means: States that have made the commitment to implement CCSS, like Kentucky and Tennessee – two of the earliest states to align curricula with the Standards – have seen some of the academic gains in the country. As other states begin to fully implement the Standards they will no doubt replicate the same success. Like Dittes, teachers who have worked closely with CCSS say they have seen improvements in students’ ability to use critical thinking and reasoning skills.

 


 

Correcting the Record:

Arizona Daily Star, “New Schools Chief Gives Arizona Education Bad Marks”: Calling the state of education in Arizona “poor,” new superintendent Diane Douglas called for an end to the “roller coaster of dramatic changes” in what and how students are taught. Douglas criticized CCSS, as she did in her campaign, as well as the state’s new CCSS-aligned tests, which she says was written by “a self-identified, self-described behavioral and social research organization, not by education experts.” “Once again, our precious children are being used as guinea pigs to advance an education agenda,” Douglas said. “This is not the first time Arizona has changed the entire education system to reflect the latest fad, top-down approach, or cure-all sold as the solution for student achievement. Parents, students and teachers are exhausted and districts are broke from rewriting curricula and lesson plans every seven to 10 years.” The article notes Douglas’ call for replace CCSS “fits the same pattern.”

Where They Went Wrong: As the article points out, it is hypocritical for Douglas to call for greater classroom stability while simultaneously urging lawmakers to get rid of CCSS, just as the state has begun to align curricula to the Standards. Changing course now would undo the hard work and investment teachers, parents and students have made preparing for CCSS. Moreover, in areas like Phoenix’s Osborn school district the Standards have helped make some of the biggest improvements in proficiency scores on the state’s exams.

 


 

On Our Reading List:

Jackson Clarion-Ledger, “Anti-Common Core Bill Clears First Hurdle”: Mississippi inched closer to detaching itself from Common Core and its associated testing consortium PARCC with the passage of two bills by the House Education Committee on Wednesday. “House Bill 156 uncouples Mississippi from the federal Common Core requirements it adopted five years ago along with most other states. Although it doesn’t repeal the controversial K-12 education standards, the legislation does allow the state to change those standards without seeking permission from the federal government,” the article reports. “House Bill 385 severs Mississippi’s ties with PARCC, a consortium of states that jointly developed the end-of-year assessments testing student knowledge on Common Core-aligned curriculum.”

Slate, “Why Obama Barely Mentioned K-12 Education in the State of the Union”: Noticeably absent in Pres. Obama’s State of the Union address was much mention of K-12 education policy. The article notes Pres. Obama may be backing away from K-12 reform because “the education policy landscape has become increasingly ugly.” It notes some Republicans have “veered further to the right” because of perceived involvement in education issues, but points out CCSS is not a federal program. “Common Core is actually a set of standards voted in on a state-by-state basis” it says, “meaning the Obama administration doesn’t actually have a ton of control over it.”

Northjersey.com, “Northern Valley Districts Say They’re Ready for New Standardized Tests”: Teachers and administrators in Northern Valley, NJ, say the areas school districts are prepared to give the first round of CCSS-aligned assessments this spring. “I believe internally from a technology perspective we are ready,” said one local school board member. One school superintendent added that the best preparation for the PARCC exams is mastery of CCSS, which classrooms are now teaching to.

Daily Caller, “Conservatives Launch Petition Site to Challenge Change.org”: A conservative media firm launched a new site, StandUnited.org, for users to create issue-based petitions similar to Change.org. Top petitions on the homepage include a push to end CCSS, among others.