COMMON CORE STANDARDS DAILY UPDATE, JUNE 4, 2015

News You Can Use:

Chalkbeat Colorado, “Colorado on the Right Path to Close ‘Honesty Gap':” Fifth-grade teacher Nichole Falkowski writes, “As a veteran teacher of 13 years, I have witnessed many changes to Colorado’s education system. Among them were the adoption of the Colorado Academic Standards and the Colorado Measures of Academic Success test, or CMAS. Unless you were living under a rock during the past few months, I’m sure you have heard about parents pulling students out of CMAS, or at least its math and English components, also known as PARCC. One of the more common arguments for opting out of the PARCC tests is that students will be labeled as failures. But with the revealing data of the Honesty Gap Report, it is clear that Colorado’s old education system was the real failure.”

What It Means: Colorado closed a 26-point discrepancy between state scores and the National Assessment of Education Progress data in fourth-grading reading and a 10-point discrepancy in eighth-grade math, in part due to the adoption of the Common Core State Standards in 2010. Colorado is also using the PARCC test to assess students’ learning progress. The author, a fifth-grade teacher who has been in the classroom for more than a decade, notes that this is the first time PARCC has been given and that her students were confident they knew the material on the test and could solve the complex problems on it.

US News & World Report, “Shameless Politicking:” Bellwether Education Partners’ Andrew Rotherham writes, “It’s easy to pick on Christie for shameless politicking – he offered little in the way of specific criticisms and the standards are unpopular with conservative primary voters in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina where his fledgling presidential campaign is struggling to get traction.” He continues, “In other words, in our loud debate about Common Core the players are rarely talking about Common Core itself. Instead, Common Core is a Rorschach test for various grievances about education – testing, accountability, control – or more general political views about the federal government or other national issues. All legitimate topics of debate, of course, but a missed opportunity for a real national conversation about our schools – especially during a political season when these conversations often take place. Common Core is hardly the last word in that debate and there is plenty of room for rich disagreement about the standards themselves and the role they should play in American education. Unfortunately, though, when we talk about Common Core we’re usually talking about everything but the standards.”

What It Means: As a few states undertake misguided attempts to develop their own standards that bear no resemblance to the Common Core, the standards are, in fact, more rigorous and of higher quality than what was previously in place. The Common Core has become a proxy fight for federal interference, but it is a fight hurting those who critics claim to be trying to help: students. The fact is, states that were early adopters of the Common Core and are using aligned assessments to measure students’ academic progress are seeing positive results in better learning outcomes.

Charleston Gazette, “W.Va. Governor’s Attorney: Berkeley County Delegate’s Common Core Lawsuit A ‘Political Attack':” West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and Superintendent Michael Martirano want a judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Berkeley County Delegate Michael Folk, who’s seeking the repeal Common Core educational standards being taught in public schools. In court filings, Tomblin’s attorney said Folk, a Republican, is trying to “bully through the courts … a purely political attack.” Folk’s lawsuit alleges that Common Core-aligned student testing in West Virginia violates the U.S. Constitution.

What It Means: Although there appear to be a number of procedural issues that could doom the lawsuit before it has a chance to take-off, West Virginia’s Attorney General is correct in labeling this suit a political attack. The suit seeks to stop West Virginia from using state dollars to implement the Smarter Balanced assessment, which the state chose to measure students’ academic progress under the Common Core. The assessment was developed to be aligned to the new standards, and to give educators and parents critical feedback on how well students are meeting the new academic benchmarks.

EdSource“‘I want to give my students access to the world’:” Lovelyn Marquez-Prueher, an 8th-grade English teacher at Dodson Middle School in Rancho Palos Verdes and the recipient of the 2014 Los Angeles County Teacher of the Year award and the 2015 California Teacher of the Year award, shared her thoughts about teaching the Common Core in an interview with EdSource. Marquez-Prueher discusses how the Common Core standards are not only more rigorous than California’s previous standards but that they are also more focused, which aids in the progressive learning that builds on successive lessons throughout students’ academic career. Literacy is no longer just taught in English Language Arts classrooms, but is shared across the curriculum. Ms. Marquez-Prueher notes her frustration with the damaging myths that pervade public perception of the standards.

What It Means: By setting high academic expectations and holding schools accountable to them, the Common Core ensures more students develop the skills to succeed at high levels of learning and ultimately graduate prepared for college or a career. But as Marquez-Prueher points out, misinformation and rhetoric have largely drowned out constructive debate about CCSS. Lost in all of that is teachers’ support for rigorous standards and high-quality assessments. A Scholastic poll last fall found more than eight in 10 teachers who have worked closely with the Common Core support implementation, and more than two-thirds report an improvement in students’ critical thinking and reasoning skills.


 

Correcting the Record:

NewJersey.com, “Common Core Review Will Be ‘Highly Inclusive,’ Says Ed Chief:” Under orders from Gov. Chris Christie, New Jersey’s education chief will outline plans next month for the review and possible replacement of the Common Core State Standards. Education Commissioner David Hespe told the State Board of Education on Wednesday that he will introduce a “highly inclusive” and “highly engaged” process for working with education groups to review the standards. An online matrix will also allow anyone else to comment on the state’s recommendations. … Christie last week declared that Common Core is “simply not working” in New Jersey and called for a point-by-point review of the standards that outline what skills students should master in English and math at each grade level. He asked that the group conducting the review recommend standards that come directly from New Jersey communities.

Where They Went Wrong: As the Washington Post noted in a recent editorial, the chances of New Jersey producing academic standards that bear no resemblance to the Common Core are slim to none, a fact that Fordham Institute’s Michael Petrilli pointed out earlier this year. Gov. Christie’s U-turn on Common Core trades on his signature political virtue – that he is a straight-talker who stands up for principle over polling. The process of the standards in 2009 was already highly inclusive and highly engaged with standard-writers soliciting public comments from educators, parents and other stakeholders as well as utilizing the best practices and the best academic research to develop high-quality standards focused on preparing students for success after high school in either college or a career.


 

On Our Reading List:

National Journal, “Is The Anti-Common Core Movement Just ‘Suburban White Moms’?”: Education Secretary Arne Duncan famously singled out “white suburban moms” for their opposition to the Common Core and the tests associated with it. But the article notes that many low-income, minority communities aren’t sold on the new standards either: “Skepticism in those communities challenges a key argument for why such standardized tests exist in the first place. A tension has emerged between national civil rights groups, which generally support the Common Core and believe standardized tests can help promote equity, and grassroots activists, who say parents and students have a right to refuse to participate in state tests they don’t believe in. Supporters of test refusal ‘claim a false mantle of civil rights activism,’ twelve civil rights organizations said in a statement last month. When parents ‘opt-out’ of state tests, the statement said, they undermine efforts to improve schools for all children.”

Capitol Confidential, “Common Core Group Urges Support for Standards in New Ads:” High Achievement New York is launching the campaign Tuesday as lawmakers try to figure out if they’ll do anything else on education before the legislative session ends. Two of the ads feature public school teachers and one features a parent and advocate, all urging listeners to tell Albany policymakers that “now is not the time to go backward on higher standards because every one of New York’s students deserves a chance at an excellent education, and a bright future.” The ads will run through the end of the legislative session, which ends in less than two weeks on June 17.

PBS, “What Does Lincoln Chafee Believe? Where the Candidate Stands on 10 Issues:” The former governor supports a federal role in setting or organizing education standards, with states getting significant flexibility in how they apply those standards. As senator, Chafee voted in favor of the No Child Left Behind Act. During his term as governor, Rhode Island was one of 11 states granted a waiver allowing more local control over standards. He has not announced a specific stance on the state-initiated Common Core standards, but Chafee supported President Obama’s “Race to the Top” initiative which was a move toward the Common Core. Rhode Island won $75 million in grants through the program.

PBS, “What Does Rick Perry believe? Where the Candidate Stands on 10 Issues:” Opposed to federal involvement in education policy, Perry would close the Department of Education. He has strongly criticized the Common Core education standards, supporting his state education system’s decision to drop out of the interstate group overseeing the program. As Texas governor, the conservative lawmaker chose not to apply for Race to the Top because he believed it would impose too many federal mandates on his state. In his 2010 book, “Fed Up!” he criticized the No Child Left Behind program. In an official press release as governor, Perry indicated he was grateful for the funding increase that came from the program.