News You Can Use:


Hilary Clinton Needs to Opt In / US News & World Report

In response to former President Clinton’s remarks that Hilary Clinton “thinks the federal government requires too many tests,” Shavar Jeffries, national president of Democrats for Education Reform, writes that rolling back testing requirements “would be to the detriment of our students, particularly poor and minority children.” “What anti-testing advocates are failing to tell our parents and communities is that getting rid, or opting out, of standardized assessments disproportionately harms poor students and students of color.” Like Jeffries, national civil rights groups encourage parents to “opt in” to high-quality assessments. Hilary Clinton, too, has underscored the importance of good tests. In a recent meeting with the Newsday editorial board, Clinton said she would not opt out her granddaughter of New York’s student assessments.

Get Answers to Your Common Core Questions / The Teaching Channel

In collaboration with Achievement Partners, the Teaching Channel is hosting a week-long question-and-answer session about Common Core implementation for teachers and parents. Educators and other interested parties are invited to post questions to a community board, which will then be answered by “Core Advocates” and “Teaching Laureates.” The outreach, which runs until April 16, is one of many examples of educators working together to help each other and families understand instructional changes as schools implement Common Core State Standards.


Correcting the Record:

Why Every Child Should Opt Out of the Standardized Tests / Huffington Post

If parents want to “end the obsession with standardized testing” they should opt out their children from state tests, argues Diane Ravitch. “That’s democracy in action…The tests today are pointless and meaningless.” Ravitch goes further to say proficiency benchmarks are “subjective” and set “so high that the majority of children are expected to fail.” “What exactly is the value of telling children they are failures when they are in third grade?” Contrary to Ravitch’s claims, high-quality assessments ensure students are on track to graduate high-school prepared for their next step, and that parents and teachers are able to provide support when and where it’s needed. Here is where Ravitch gets it wrong:

Opting Out Leaves Students, Parents and Teachers in the Dark

If parents want to “end the obsession with standardized testing” they should opt out their children from student assessments, argues Diane Ravitch in the Huffington Post. “That’s democracy in action…The tests today are pointless and meaningless.” Ravitch goes further, saying proficiency benchmarks are “subjective” and set “so high that the majority of children are expected to fail.”

Ravitch’s claims entirely ignore the value of high-quality student assessments most states are using. Good tests are one of the best tools parents and teachers have to measure student development and to provide support when and where students need it. The data tests provide help inform instruction and allow educators to tailor their teaching to build on what’s working and address classroom needs.

Last fall, Karen Nussle noted, “States are finally measuring to levels that reflect what students need to know and be able to do to succeed in college or a career…For parents and educators, that should come as a welcome change.”

That’s why numerous national civil rights groups and activists support annual state assessments. “When we are finally going in the right direction, why would we even consider going back?” Kati Haycock, president of the Education Trust, wrote earlier this year.

To be sure, states are moving in the right direction by implementing rigorous standards and high-quality assessments aligned to them. An analysis by Achieve this year found 26 states significantly closed their “Honesty Gaps” over the past two years, giving parents and teachers a better picture of how well their students were being prepared to ultimately step in college or a career.

An review by the Collaborative for Student Success, which built on the Achieve study, recognizes New York—where opt-out efforts have been concentrated—as among the “Most Honest” states for reporting proficiency rates that actually exceed those identified by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). “The findings indicate parents and educators are now receiving more accurate information about how well prepared their child is to move onto higher level material based on college- and career-ready standards.”

The shift is not isolated to New York, either. Across the country, states have increased their proficiency goals for students, ensuring that when met students are on track to enter college or the workforce—and that parents and teachers can provide support if students fall short. A Harvard University study concludes, “Now, in the wake of the Common Core campaign, a majority of states have made a dramatic move forward… The Common Core consortium has achieved one of its key policy objectives: the raising of state proficiency standards throughout much of the United States.”



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Draft ESSA Regulations: A Mixed Bag for Educational Excellence / Thomas B. Fordham Institute

The “negotiated rulemaking” process for issuing regulations under the Every Student Succeeds Act has “revealed major problems on the regulatory front concerning gifted and high-achieving students,” write Jonathan Plucker and Brandon Wright. Last week the group of experts tasked with reaching rulemaking agreements failed to address several issues as they relate to gifted education, which is a “huge shame.” “The way the department and its hand-picked negotiators are handling these issues in the draft regulations and issue papers strongly suggests that gifted education—and, more broadly, educational excellence—remains almost completely off its radar.”