COMMON CORE STANDARDS DAILY UPDATE // MAY 23, 2016

News You Can Use:

What If…A Letter from the CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation / Gates Foundation
Lessons from the implementation of Common Core State Standards reaffirm teachers and students need access to high quality learning materials, which is why the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is partnering with organizations like EdReports.org to help provide access to teacher-reviewed instructional content. “All students can thrive when they are held to high standards,” writes Sue Desmond-Hellmann, the Foundation’s CEO. “The Common Core State Standards help set those expectations.” Evidence indicates states have begun to raise proficiency benchmarks and provide teachers and parents with accurate information by implementing rigorous learning goals and high-quality assessments, and early adopter states have made some of the biggest academic gains in the country.

Kentucky Thoroughly Sold Its Educators on Common Core. How? / Hechinger Report
By proactively engaging parents, educators and local administrators, Kentucky officials facilitated a smooth transition to the Common Core State Standards. “Kentucky is a great example of what can happen when all stakeholders are involved from the beginning,” says Scott Sargard, director of K-12 policy at the Center for American Progress. The state provided professional development for teachers, conducted outreach to parents and community leaders, and decoupled assessments from teacher evaluations. Kentucky has since made some of the biggest academic improvements in the country. “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 in 2014.

Baesler: State, Local Leaders at Forefront of New Education Standards / Jamestown Sun
North Dakota state superintendent Kirsten Baesler says teachers will be in charge of making changes to the state’s Common Core Standards, and she doesn’t expect any “wholesale changes.” “I don’t expect this to be a process of starting over,” Baesler said. The Every Student Succeeds Act ensures state and local officials have control over education standards and student assessments, Baesler added. Several states have refined and built on the Common Core framework, but, as a white paper by the Collaborative for Student cautions, replacing the Common Core from whole cloth invariably leads to either nearly identical learning goals or inferior standards.

New York Education Commissioner Says Common Core Shakeup in the Works / Staten Island Advance
New York education commissioner MaryEllen Elia says state officials will make changes to build on the Common Core framework. The decision grew out of statewide “listening tours,” Elia explains. More than 72 percent of New Yorkers said they want to maintain the state’s education standards. Two committees made up of teachers, administrators, parents and students will recommend changes to the learning goals, which will then be considered by the state Board of Regents. Several states have refined and built on the Common Core State Standards to ensure they meet student needs, as the standards are designed. A blog by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce explains the Common Core sets a floor, not a ceiling, for student learning.

 


 

Correcting the Record:

Kids Used as Guinea Pigs for Testing Companies During Class
New York Post
Some New York parents claim their children are being used as “guinea pigs” to field test student assessment materials. “Parents are not aware that their children are being forced to sit for these guinea-pig tests,” argues Mona Davids, president of the New York City Parents Union. Michael Reilly, president of the Staten Island Community Education Council alleges it is akin to “free labor.” “There’s a lot more important things that schools can use that [time] for.” In fact, field tests allow test providers to ensure the quality and integrity of assessment content and to offer greater transparency to parents and teachers. Here is where the parent groups get it wrong:

Field Tests Ensure Transparency and Integrity of High-Quality Student Assessments

Some New York parents claim their children are being used as “guinea pigs” to field test student assessment materials, the New York Post reports.

“Parents are not aware that their children are being forced to sit for these guinea-pig tests,” argues Mona Davids, president of the New York City Parents Union.

Michael Reilly, president of the Staten Island Community Education Council alleges field test are akin to “free labor.” “There are a lot more important things that schools can use that [time] for.”

However, fielding testing material ensures student assessments include only high-quality content and allows test developers to provide greater transparency to parents and teachers—at little to no additional burden to students.

Test developers regularly release content from past assessments. That helps inform parents and teachers about the type of questions students face, better ensuring assessments align with classroom instruction.

Reusing test material that has been made public would jeopardize the integrity of the assessments. Therefore, developers regularly create new content to replace items that are released to the public.

By integrating trial questions into student assessments, developers are able to “test drive” new questions to ensure they adequately measure student understanding and reflect classroom instruction—and to weed out those questions that perform poorly.

This process allows PARCC to maintain a high level of rigor and quality in every test item, ensuring the assessments improve year over year.

Additionally, field testing adds little to no additional burdens on test-takers. Only about a fraction of students receive assessments with content being field tested, and the questions are embedded alongside the “real” material, so students are able to treat all content equally.


 

On Our Reading List:

California School Districts Receiving Student Test Results Faster than Last Year, Officials Say / EdSource
Many districts and schools across California are getting results from Smarter Balanced assessments back earlier than they did after the first administration last year, officials report. That could help educators make better use of the data to help guide classroom instruction. Educational Testing Service (ETS), in partnership with the state Education Department and WestEd, is offering workshops to help decipher the results. “Last year we weren’t getting these scores until August or September,” said Joe Wood, a district administrator. “This time, we had one group of students that finished testing on Friday and by Sunday morning, I already had the scores.”

Florida Testing Season Ends without Major Disruptions / Tampa Bay Times
Florida schools completed state assessments Friday with no major disruptions. “This year’s test administration has been very successful,” education commissioner Pam Stewart told the state Board of Education. More than 3 million exams were given electronically and more than 650,000 by paper-and-pencil. Last year the Florida Standards Assessments and other state exams were marred by technical problems, which prevented some students from accessing tests or completing their work.

Standardized Testing on Agenda of Massachusetts Education Board / Boston Herald
Massachusetts education commissioner Mitchell Chester will meet with members of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education on Tuesday to give updates about the development of the next-generation MCAS exam and the ongoing review of the state’s education standards. The state Department of Education has received two proposals from nonprofit companies to help develop the “MCAS 2.0” assessment, which will combine elements of PARCC and the former MCAS test.