COMMON CORE STANDARDS DAILY UPDATE // MARCH 11, 2015

News You Can Use:

The Register-Herald (WV), “Senate Committee Votes to Study, Not Repeal, Common Core”: The West Virginia Senate Committee on Education voted on Monday to conduct a year-long study of the state’s use of CCSS, altering a bill that sought an all-out repeal of the Standards. The article notes that replacing the Standards could cost the state more than $128 million. State Superintendent Michael Martirano told lawmakers the amended bill gives him some comfort and that “if not done properly, could destabilize education in West Virginia.” “I firmly believe we are on the right path,” Martirano said. “Let’s take a moment to pause, as we move our state forward, to get it right…we should not be adjusting standards every two years.” One lawmaker noted that schools are making adjustments to implement the Standards, and teachers support the initiative.

What It Means: The vote adds West Virginia to the list of several conservative-leaning states in recent weeks that have opted to stay the course on CCSS. The fact that states continue to move forward with implementation of the Standards underscores their rigor, and the value parents place on high academic expectations. As Fordham Institute President Mike Petrilli wrote recently, “it’s impossible to draft standards that prepare students for college and career readiness and that look nothing like Common Core.”

Des Moines Register, “Iowa Core = Common Sense”: Jay Byers, CEO of the Greater Des Moines Partnership, writes that without an aggressive set of standards built around real and meaningful accountability,” Iowa schools will face difficulties equipping a workforce to meet long-term growth needs. “Iowa Core establishes baseline objectives in key subject areas across all school districts,” Byers says. “I believe this approach is common sense policy that leads to strong student achievement in the short term and a healthy economy long term.” Reiterating that the Standards set a floor – not a ceiling –  for learning, Byers notes that individual school districts determine “the curriculum and how specifically each will reach those goals. This allows local voices to drive local policy development that reflects the realities of Iowa classrooms, and it maintains crucial local control of our children’s education.” Byers concludes, “This is an ideal time to be proactive and embrace common sense programs like Iowa Core that will deliver high-quality education to our young people and create the framework for long-term growth.”

What It Means: CCSS-aligned standards, like those in Iowa, set high learning goals for all students to help ensure young people graduate high school with the critical thinking and analytical skills to succeed in college or a career. The Standards retain local control of education, as Byers points out, and by setting high benchmarks and giving local educators discretion in how to achieve them, the Standards help to provide greater flexibility in the classroom.

WCPO ABC Kentucky“Controversial Common Core Testing Works in Kentucky”: Despite media coverage of opt-out movements, CCSS-aligned assessments in Kentucky are showing signs of success, educators say. “These are more rigorous, they were deeper,” said Terry Cox-Cruey, a district superintendent. She added that CCSS and related tests help educators cover material at a “much deeper level.” Dr. Cox-Cruey notes Kentucky got ahead of implementation when the state first adopted the Standards, which helped to ensure a smooth transition. Graduation rates and college-readiness scores in the state have increased over the last several years, which Cox-Cruey and others attribute to CCSS. “Now Kentucky is doing so well and progressing, it’s because we’re finally being measured at the same level as other states.”

What It Means: In Kentucky, one of the first states to adopt CCSS, student proficiency rates at most grade levels and college-readiness scores have steadily increased over the past three years. As Cox-Cruey points out, educators attribute those improvements largely to CCSS. In states across the country, teachers who have worked closely with CCSS continue to strongly support their implementation, and more than two-thirds report an improvement in students’ ability to use critical thinking and reasoning skills.


 

Correcting the Record:

US News & World Report“Opt-Out Movement About More than Tests, Advocates Say”: While the movement to have students refrain from CCSS-aligned assessments has gained momentum, some leaders behind the effort say it’s more than about academic standards or an overemphasis on testing. “This is a movement to reclaim and do what’s right for kids in public schools,” says Tim Slekar, head of the United Opt Out Movement in Wisconsin. “This is a movement to restore real learning.” Critics say spending and time devoted to standards and tests could be better used in other areas, including arts and hands on learning programs. “When you place these artificial standards on children and force them to comply to it, you set them up to hate learning and to hate reading,” says Peggy Robertson, a national administrator of the United Opt Out group. The article notes a recent Gallup poll found 68% of parents did not believe that standardized tests help teachers.

Where They Went Wrong: Strong assessments are an important tool to provide parents and teachers with an honest measure of student development. CCSS-aligned tests are designed to give more constructive feedback to better identify and address learning needs, and because they put more emphasis on how students arrive at an answer they reduce pressure to teach to the test. As the article notes, educators remain supportive of CCSS and related assessments. A survey of 1,000 teachers released yesterday by Teach Plus found that 79% of respondents thought PARCC exams were stronger than states’ previous exams.


 

On Our Reading List:

Associated Press, “House Delays Debate on Ditching Common Core Standards”: The Arizona House postponed a vote on a proposal that would repeal the state’s CCSS-aligned standards and strip the board of education’s power to adopt new standards. Floor debate was pushed back because one House Republican was absent, indicating the vote count will be close, the article reports. A proposal to get rid of CCSS was voted down by the Arizona Senate last week.

Education Week, “PARCC Makes Inroad as Proxy for College Readiness”: Several colleges’ move to use CCSS-aligned exam scores as a college-readiness barometer show “higher education is beginning to embrace the fundamental meaning of the common assessment.” Adams State University and Aims Community College in Colorado recently announced they will give students the option to use PARCC scores to determine course-placement decisions. The extent to which higher education agrees with [the idea that CCSS demonstrate a mastery of requisite skills] is reflected, in part, by how widely it agrees to use the college-readiness scores on the PARCC and Smarter Balanced exams in course-placement decisions, the article notes.

Washington Post, “Chiefs for Change Education Advocacy Group Headed for More Change”: On Tuesday, Chiefs for Change, an educational advocacy organization, announced it will split from the Foundation for Excellence in Education. Louisiana state superintendent John White will lead the newly independent group, while continuing in his current role. Chiefs for Change has been a strong supporter of CCSS. “Now more than ever, we need bipartisan education leaders to give voice to the policies and practices that work for students in states, cities and classrooms,” White said.

Washington Post, “What Do We Know about the GOP Field?”: A NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll finds that a plurality of voters would support a candidate who favors CCSS, though support was not as strong among Republican voters. Conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin writes that the findings indicate “voters are much slower to make up their minds and amenable to persuasion” than political pundits at this point in the election cycle.