COMMON CORE STANDARDS DAILY UPDATE // March 3, 2015

News You Can Use:

Arizona Republic, “Ding Dong, the Common Core Killers Are Dead”: The Arizona Senate voted down two bills that sought to repeal CCSS within the state or set up a committee to review the Standards, which is “good news for teachers and their students.” The editorial notes the votes were led not just by moderate Republicans, but several “solid conservatives.” “State schools Superintendent Diane Douglas has found her hands tied, and thus has moderated her anti-Common Core rhetoric,” the piece says. “And so the standards will have a chance to work. Teachers largely support them, as does the business community…This is a good, strong set of standards that Arizona needs.”

What It Means: The Republican-led vote in Arizona reaffirms the state’s commitment to high, comparable education standards. As the editorial notes, educators and business leaders strongly support CCSS, which will better ensure students of all backgrounds graduate with the skills to succeed in college or a career. Contrary to opponents’ claims, the vote in Arizona adds to the evidence lawmakers and parents remain committed to CCSS. After two national elections, all but one of the 45 states to initially adopt CCSS continue to use the Standards, or some nearly identical version of them.

Idaho Ed News, “Common Core Survives a Challenge”: The Idaho Senate Education Committee put the brakes to a plan to convert the state’s CCSS-aligned standards into “more Idaho-specific standards.” State lawmakers voted to hold a resolution that would have required a review of the state’s Common Core standards this year. Several education and business groups spoke in support of the Standards. “We believe that the current standards should have a chance to work,” said Rod Gramer, CEO of Idaho Business for Education. Members of the committee agreed. “Right now [Common Core is] the best practice that I can see,” said state Sen. Cherie Buckner-Webb.

What It Means: Idaho is the latest in a string of conservative states that have voted to uphold CCSS. Despite nearly two years of targeted attacks, states continue to stick with the Common Core, which speaks to the strength of the Standards and the public’s commitment to high academic expectations.

Shreveport Times, “Opt Out…For What?”: Opting out of PARCC assessments “will no yield progress,” writes Nicole Nelson. “This year students can finally take an assessment that will not determine whether they pass or fail, but will be used to support educators in improving instruction.” CCSS-aligned exams require students to use text to defend their answers, apply number strategies and demonstrate their reasoning, all skills necessary to succeed in the real world. “Why would we choose to opt out of the very tool that can help us progress education in Louisiana?”

What It Means: CCSS-aligned assessments are an important tool to ensure the Standards help prepare students for higher levels of learning. These exams inform instruction, and help teachers identify student needs. As most states prepare to administer the PARCC and Smarter Balanced tests for the first time this spring, it would be a disservice for parents to opt out their children and could subvert the effectiveness of high education standards.

New America Media, “Principals Become ‘Lead Learners’ under Common Core”: CCSS are putting a “greater emphasis on skills like critical thinking, reasoning and analysis,” which better prepares students for higher levels of learning. With changes in teaching to the Standards, educators in California schools find they “have some learning of their own to do,” the article reports. Cregg Ramich, a curriculum specialist in San Francisco says preparing material aligned to CCSS has fostered greater collaboration among teachers and administrators. Teachers are also now looking for more ways to help students make connections between what they learn in class and the real world, the article adds.

What It Means: Changes in instruction encouraged by CCSS have led school districts across the country to engage and inform parents. Teachers who have worked closely with CCSS strongly support their implementation, and studies indicate they are taking the lead on developing new material aligned to the Standards and helping parents adjust to the changes.

Idaho Education News, “Common Core Survives a Challenge”: The Idaho Senate Education Committee put the brakes on a plan to convert the state’s CCSS-aligned standards into “more Idaho-specific standards.” State lawmakers voted to hold a resolution that would have required a review of the state’s Common Core standards this year. Several education and business groups spoke in support of the Standards. “We believe that the current standards should have a chance to work,” said Rod Gramer, CEO of Idaho Business for Education. Members of the committee agreed. “Right now [Common Core is] the best practice that I can see,” said state Sen. Cherie Buckner-Webb.

What It Means: Idaho is the latest in a string of conservative states that have voted to uphold CCSS. Despite nearly two years of targeted attacks, states continue to stick with the Common Core, which speaks to the strength of the Standards and the public’s commitment to high academic expectations.


 

Correcting the Record:

Wall Street Journal, “More New Jersey Students Opt Out of Tests”: As New Jersey schools begin administering CCSS-aligned exams, some school districts are reporting high numbers of students opting out, especially in affluent neighborhoods. Still, the state department of education said participation in most schools remained strong and there have been few technical problems. Over the past weeks New Jersey’s teachers union aired commercials and ran social media campaigns encouraging parents to have their children abstain from testing. Education commissioner David Hespe said in a statement most parents understand the value of the exams. “Now it’s time to step back and put the spotlight on our students, and let them show us what they can do.” One parent told CBS News her concern is the assessments put too great of a focus on test preparation instead of content learning. The Daily Caller reports hundreds of students are participating in similar opt-out movements, including the largest demonstration at Albuquerque High School.

Where They Went Wrong: CCSS-aligned exams provide more constructive, timely feedback for teachers and parents about students’ preparedness. That in turn helps to inform instruction to better ensure students are able to develop critical thinking and reasoning skills necessary to succeed at higher levels of learning. By opting their children out of assessments, parents are undermining the purpose of high standards and risk putting students at a disadvantage.


 

On Our Reading List:

WV Metro News, “Common Core Repeal Sent to Senate Subcommittee”: A  bill that seeks to repeal CCSS in West Virginia was sent to a subcommittee by Senate Education Committee chairman Dave Sypolt on Monday. The subcommittee will review the bill and report to the full committee. “The math does not explain itself clearly so that we can fully understand how we are to solve the problems,” one local elementary student told lawmakers. “I bet if you ask the people in my math class they would say, yes, this Common Core that you put in West Virginia is confusing.” State superintendent Michael Martirano asked the committee to allow him to review the Standards and deal with problem areas. “Just let me have the opportunity to do that, working with our state board and our teachers, and then we can put our stamp on it.” The Wheeling Intelligencer notes after passing through the Education Committee the bill will be sent to the Finance Committee, before being heard on the Senate floor.

Ed Week, “Chicago Reverses Course, Will Give PARCC Test Districtwide”: The Chicago school district announced it will administer PARCC exams district-wide instead of in just 10 percent of schools, as previously planned, because of concerns it could not withstand the loss of state funding. Students in grades 3-8 could begin testing as early as next week. Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett told reporters the state rejected the 10% plan and threatened to withhold more than $1 billion in state and federal funding. “It would be irresponsible for me to put us in that position of danger, given our financial condition now,” Byrd-Bennett said.

Charleston Post & Courier, “Common Core Replacement Standards Clear Another Hurdle”: On Monday a South Carolina Senate subcommittee voted unanimously to advance newly written education standards to replace CCSS, meeting the timeline set forth by education officials when the state voted to replace CCSS last year. Still, the new draft did not appease everyone. Sheri Few, who ran unsuccessfully for superintendent last year on an anti-CCSS platform, said the K-8 standards “are essentially badly rewritten Common Core with a few minor changes.”