COMMON CORE STANDARDS DAILY UPDATE // JUNE 27, 2016

News You Can Use:

Utah Core Standards Are Working and Should Not Be Abandoned / Salt Lake Tribune
Utah teachers, parents and taxpayers have made significant investments in Common Core Standards over the past six years, and the state is already reaping the returns on this investment, writes Nathan Auck, a math specialist. The Utah Council of Teachers of Mathematics issued a resolution supporting the Utah Core Standards earlier this year. Conversely, states that have replaced the Common Core are experiencing the realities of inferior education standards. “Well thought-out and thoroughly vetted state educational standards, and the hard work that goes into their implementation, should not be subject to the whims of election year politics and political jockeying,” Auck concludes.

Teaching More than Just Literature / Metro West Daily News
Common Core State Standards’ inclusion of more non-fiction texts helps young people build writing and critical thinking skills, writes Curtis Perdue, a Massachusetts teacher. “Students need these skills to be better communicators…Common Core is helping our youth develop into thoughtful, aware citizens.” The Common Core requires students to “analyze complex texts, to weigh evidence, to make clear and effective arguments, and to work with very different views,” David Ruenzel, a former teacher, wrote previously. “It will no longer be enough for youngsters to memorize information or rely on formulas.”

Professional Development Key to Common Core, Student Achievement, Leaders Say / Scranton Times-Tribune
Professional development is key to empowering teachers to teach to the Common Core, superintendents across Pennsylvania say. “We absolutely think that our greatest resources is our human resources,” explains Timothy Morgan. “When you think of what’s your greatest resource, that’s where you want to put your greatest investment. Great people do great things with strong curriculum.”


 

Correcting the Record:

Massachusetts Voters May Get Chance to Dump Common Core / Daily Caller
The group End Common Core Massachusetts announced last week its members had collected enough signatures to include a question on the November ballot of whether to repeal Massachusetts’ Common Core Standards. The proposal would require the state to return to the education standards used prior to 2010. “We can now begin a robust debate to ensure that any tests in MA are based on our high, pre-2010 standards, designed by local educators with MA students in mind,” argues Donna Colorio, head of End Common Core Massachusetts. However, Massachusetts adopted the Common Core because the standards provide clear, rigorous learning goals and greater consistency across schools. Here is where the ballot initiative gets it wrong:

Massachusetts Ballot Initiative Could Put Students and Teachers at Risk

The group End Common Core Massachusetts announced last week its members had collected enough signatures to include a question on the November ballot whether to repeal Massachusetts’ Common Core Standards, the Daily Caller reports. The proposal would require the state to return to the education standards used prior to 2010.

Donna Colorio, head of End Common Core Massachusetts, has repeatedly claimed the Common Core is a one-size-fits-all set of learning goals. “We can now begin a robust debate to ensure that any tests in MA are based on our high, pre-2010 standards, designed by local educators with MA students in mind,” Colorio told Politico. “Only passage of our ballot question ensures we will continue to move in the right direction.”

However, in 2010 the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted unanimously to voluntarily adopt the Common Core State Standards. They did, the members explained, because the standards set a high bar for student achievement and create greater consistency among school districts and other states.

“All along, the conversation about Common Core has been about the Commonwealth seizing the opportunity to improve upon our already high standards,” state Education Secretary Paul Reville explained. “Today’s action ensures that Massachusetts will continue to be the recognized leader not only in performance but in setting the direction for the nation’s future education reforms.”

Early evidence suggests the standards are working. A Harvard University study notes, “In short, the Common Core consortium has achieved one of its key policy objectives: the raising of state proficiency standards throughout much of the United States.”

A similar analysis by Achieve found most states had significantly closed the “Honesty Gap” by implementing the Common Core and high-quality assessments. The Honesty Gap analysis recognizes Massachusetts as among the “Most Honest” for reporting student proficiency rates closely aligned to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)—giving parents and teachers an accurate measure of student readiness.

States leading implementation efforts have achieved some of the biggest academic improvements in the country. In Tennessee, an early adopter of the Common Core, college readiness rates have improved consecutively over the past four years. In Kentucky, graduation rates have steadily improved, achievement gaps have narrowed and college readiness rates have made steady gains.

“Such notable successes demonstrate how effective setting higher expectations in our classrooms is, especially when states are willing to put their full support behind it,” Karen Nussle wrote previously.

That may be why most states have doubled down on their commitment to Common Core State Standards. “Despite concerted efforts to derail implementation of Common Core State Standards and the high-quality assessments that support them, states have weighed the evidence and opted to build on the framework set by these rigorous, comparable education standards,” Jim Cowen wrote this spring.

While most states are moving forward with the Common Core, Massachusetts voters should resist the temptation to turn back on this important initiative.


 

On Our Reading List:

One in Five Teachers Unfamiliar with the Common Core Standards for Writing / Education Week
Common Core State Standards require more writing, different types of writing and an increased use of supporting texts, analyses by the Education Week “Teacher Team” finds. But “professional development efforts haven’t kept up in helping teachers meet these new demands.” One study found only about a quarter of teachers received sufficient professional development to implement the standards in their classrooms. One in five said they were not very familiar with the Common Core writing standards. “This proves that a great deal of work needs to be accomplished by state and local education agencies to prepare educators,” one of the study’s authors explains.

In Search for Better Graduation Rats, Schools Are Fudging the Numbers / Los Angeles Times
The Every Student Succeeds Act requires states to hold high school accountable for improving graduation rates. “The question, though, is whether schools will bring those numbers up the hard way, by improving the quality of education – or by falling back on shortcuts and gimmicks,” the editorial board says. “Under pressure to produce better numbers, school officials in California and nationwide have often done whatever it takes to get to those numbers, including lowering standards while pretending to raise them, and reclassifying students instead of educating them.”