COMMON CORE STANDARDS DAILY UPDATE // JUNE 15, 2016

News You Can Use:

Springfield’s Bad Plan for Oregon Schools / Bend Bulletin
The Springfield School Board’s decision to encourage parents to opt their kids out of Smarter Balanced assessments puts “political correctness above the students,” the editorial board writes. “A test that measures students’ grasp of what’s being taught is – or should be – of huge benefit to those students…[Smarter Balanced] aims not only to measure what children know, but also what they can do with that knowledge.” Earlier this year former Education Secretary Bill Bennett explained, “There are constructive ways to improve education and accountability policies. Opting out is not one them.” Education advocates have created tools, like the Testing Bill of Rights, to help parents and teachers work with their states towards better, fairer and fewer tests.

Constantly Changing Tests Stymy Education / Wisconsin Dells Events
Last month Wisconsin public school students completed their third set of standardized assessments in three years. The frequent changes create uncertainty for teachers and students and make it difficult to gauge student achievement, the editorial board writes. “Not only have public schools lost the ability to track year-over-year comparisons, school teachers and administrators have wasted time…Hopefully we’ve learned not to play politics with education.” In a recent memo Jim Cowen explains, “Beyond the costs, time constraints and technical challenges…states that have struck out on their own have also jeopardized their ability to compare their progress to other states—and may very well come out with an inferior assessment in the process.”


 

Correcting the Record:

Poll: Utahns Give Failing Grades to Common Core, SAGE Testing  / Salt Lake Tribune
In a poll of 1,500 Utah residents, 51 percent of respondents said they believe the state’s Common Core Standards should be replaced. Forty-six percent said schools should stop using SAGE, the statewide assessment aligned to the standards. “It’s almost like they want to make it all teacher proof,” one participant claimed. “Like we’re moving toward having a machine teach our kids.” However, as the poll points out, a great deal of confusion about the standards remains, and parents and teachers continue to overwhelmingly support rigorous, consistent learning goals, no matter what label is attached. Here is where the idea that Utah would be better off without the Common Core gets it wrong:

Are States Better Off Repealing the Common Core? Evidence Indicates Not

In a poll this week by the Salt Lake Tribune finds 51 percent of respondents say they believe the state’s Common Core Standards should be replaced. Forty-six percent say schools should stop using SAGE, the statewide assessment aligned to the standards.

“It’s almost like they want to make it all teacher proof,” one participant claimed. “Like we’re moving toward having a machine teach our kids.”

However, a lot of confusion about the standards remains—which the poll points out. “These words tend to be used in sound bites,” explains Jason Perry, director of the organization that conducted the survey. “But many in the community at large simply don’t understand the terms.”

Last fall Karen Nussle explained, “Few people have a deep knowledge base about Common Core, and misunderstandings and misconceptions continue to color opinions about the standards.” National polling, Nussle points out, shows that “support for high, consistent standards, by any name, remains strikingly high.”

The Utah Council of Teachers of Mathematics recently issued a resolution supporting the Common Core. “Utah Core Standards define what students should know and be able to do at the end of each grade level and advance equity of outcomes for Utah students by setting a bar for student performance…The Utah Council of Teachers of Mathematics strongly supports the newly revised Utah Core Mathematics Standards and the appropriate use of SAGE testing in Utah Schools.”


 

On Our Reading List:

Elementary School Teachers Struggle with Common Core Math Standards / Hechinger Report
Many elementary school teachers struggle to teach problem-solving techniques emphasized by the Common Core due to a lack of professional development to help them become proficient with the concepts. A recent study found one in four teachers in Georgia were unfamiliar with the standards, and four in 10 had three days or fewer of training about how to teach to them. “Preparatory programs have to be more attentive and have a way to develop teacher expertise,” says John Ewing, president of Math for America. Others, like Deborah Ball of the University of Michigan, say teachers need guidance through problem solving from multiple angles, like students are asked to do.

Four Approaches to ESSA Accountability / Flypaper Blog
The Every Student Succeeds Act gives states greater room to design accountability systems. Fordham Institute’s Mike Petrilli and Brandon Wright write there are four competing “worldviews” when it comes to those models: Every School is A-OK; Attack the Algorithms; Living in the Scholars’ Paradise; and NCLB Was Extended, Not Ended. The authors suggest the “Scholars’ Paradise” camp has a lot going for it, with a focus on fairness, differentiation between high- and low-growth schools, and effective signals to policymakers. The first state plans for implementing ESSA accountability are due next March.

ISTEP Panel Unclear on Vision for New Assessment
State Impact Indiana
A 23-person committee convened by the Indiana General Assembly to propose a framework for a new statewide student assessment met for the second time Tuesday. The panel members, which include educators, legislators, agency heads and business leaders, struggled to agree on a shared goal. “I just don’t want to get into the weeds until I’m clear that everybody on this committee, we’re all focused on the same thing,” explained Wendy Robinson, a district superintendent. State Impact reported last month that with the deadline for a proposal less than six months off, the committee has “a vast amount of work” ahead.