COMMON CORE STANDARDS DAILY UPDATE // JUNE 20, 2016

News You Can Use:

Homegrown Tests Prevent State Comparisons  / Atlanta Journal Constitution
States that sought to appease critics by “going it alone” on student assessments have created uncertainty for schools, produced assessments that will likely prove inferior to consortia exams, and weakened their ability to compare student progress to other states, writes Jim Cowen. That is an especially adverse outcome for military families, who move frequently. Military leaders have emphasized the importance of access to high-quality education in installation decisions. A Stimson Center report found state officials should prioritize rigorous, consistent education standards that ensure students are not left behind or forced to relearn material when they change schools, or risk base closures in their communities.

Striving for Student Success, Not Just Proficiency / New Jersey Spotlight
New Jersey’s PARCC assessment “is actually telling us whether students are ready for college or to enter the workforce,” a welcome change from old exams that often masked student needs, writes Emil Carafa, a local principal. “This marks the first time that the metrics we use to determine whether a student has learned what is expected of them in each grade matches up with the state assessment.” A Mathmatic Policy Research study, Carafa notes, found PARCC is a good indicator of college-readiness, and students who met PARCC proficiency benchmarks had an 89 percent likelihood of earning “C” or better grades in college. Like former Education Secretary Bill Bennett, Carafa says “misinformation, rumors and innuendo” have obstructed honest debate. The bottom line is, PARCC is a test worth taking.


 

Correcting the Record:

Failing Another Common Core Test / Patriot Post
The findings of the latest ACT National Curriculum Survey are an indicator Common Core State Standards “are disconnected from the reality of college and career expectations,” columnist Allyne Caan claims. “It’s little wonder states are rejecting the standards…The federal government doesn’t know what’s best for your child and clearly doesn’t understand what private employers value.” Noting that large percentages of teachers report teaching material not aligned to the Common Core, Jennifer Kabbany writes in the College Fix, “Teachers are giving the feds the middle finger and doing what’s best for the children.” However, the ACT survey results indicate teachers lack the professional development support necessary to effectively teach to the Common Core—an implementation problem, not a deficiency with the standards. Here is where the articles get it wrong:

Correcting the Record: Survey Results Underscore Need for Greater Support for Teachers, Not a Defect in the Common Core

The results from the latest ACT National Curriculum Survey are an indicator Common Core State Standards “are disconnected from the reality of college and career expectations,” columnist Allyne Caan argues in the Patriot Post. “It’s little wonder states are rejecting the standards…The federal government doesn’t know what’s best for your child and clearly doesn’t understand what private employers value.”

Noting that large percentages of teachers report teaching material not aligned to the Common Core, Jennifer Kabbany writes in the College Fix, “Teachers are giving the feds the middle finger and doing what’s best for the children.”

However, those interpretations misconstrue the ACT data entirely, and miss the real takeaway—that K-12 teachers continue to lack the professional development support to effectively teach to the Common Core.

According to the 2012 ACT survey, more than a quarter of teachers were unfamiliar with the Common Core State Standards. Of those who were familiar with them, two-thirds did not anticipate changing their instruction significantly, which, as the survey notes, was a good sign many were unaware of the changes necessary to help students over a higher bar.

The latest findings show many teachers are still struggling to make those adjustments. Eighty-five percent of elementary school teachers report teaching math topics not aligned to the Common Core, and nearly 40 percent of all K-12 teachers say they have changed their instruction only slightly, if at all.

That should be a clear sign to state leaders they need to improve their supports to help educators acclimate and teach to these more rigorous learning goals. In a RAND study this spring, only 28 percent of math teachers and 31 percent of English language arts teachers thought professional development opportunities provided to them reflect their needs.

According to a 2014 Center for Education Policy report, only two-thirds of districts nationwide provided professional development training to 90 percent or more of their teachers. Another poll of urban Georgia schools found only two out of 10 teachers were very familiar with the Common Core, and one in four received no training on how to teach to the standards.

The latest ACT survey indicates many educators continue to hold a “relatively positive and realistic sense” of the Common Core’s ability to prepare students for college and careers. In a Harvard study this year, nearly three-quarters of teacher reported they have embraced the Common Core “quite a bit” or “fully,” and more than two-thirds of principals believe the standards will improve student learning.

Last fall Karen Nussle explained that polling indicates parents and teachers strongly support rigorous, consistent education standards, regardless of what label is attached. But, “misunderstandings and misconceptions continue to color opinions about the [Common Core].”

Opponents are seeking to spin the ACT survey findings as fodder to compel state leaders to abandon implementation of the Common Core. But the real message indicates something much different: Officials should step up their support for teachers to unlock the full potential of the Common Core.


 

On Our Reading List:

Northwest Evaluation Association to Enter State Assessment Market / Education Week
The Northwest Evaluation Association announced today plans to enter the assessment market by launching a “State Solutions” division. The NWEA administers the Measures of Academic Progress test, an interim assessment taken by students nationwide. The new division will support states’ development of “innovative accountability systems,” including proficiency assessments models, according to the company’s announcement. NWEA will provide “comprehensive, coherent systems for accountability, but accountability in the context of school improvement and in the context of providing timely and actionable information so kids’ instruction and learning can be enhanced,” says Matt Chapman, the organization’s CEO.

Houston-Area School Leaders Ask Texas Education Agency to Not Release Ratings / Houston Chronicle
In a joint letter to Texas education commissioner Mike Morath, more than 40 district superintendents in the Houston area asked that the Texas Education Agency not issue school academic ratings this year. The signers say results from STAAR assessments are not reliable. Student scores have been credited to the wrong schools or appeared differently on various lists. A spokesperson said the agency plans to release the ratings this summer.