News You Can Use:

Post Star (NY), “Teacher Sees the Good in Common Core”: Emily Aierstok, a seventh-grade English teacher in upstate New York, says the good aspects of CCSS are getting mixed up in all the political noise happening across the state. Students are more motivated, growing more confident in their reading abilities, and developing an attitude that they can tackle difficult material, Aierstok says. “My students have blown away all my expectations and they’re capable of so much more.” She adds that one of the biggest misconceptions with CCSS is that teachers are going to spend a lot of time on test preparation, when in fact educators will make the impact of testing as minimal as possible. “I’m not against evaluation. I’m against when we start trying to involve kids in that battle, and that’s what’s happening with the opt-out movement,” Aierstok says. District Superintendent Mark Fish reiterates that the Standards are built on solid research and retains teachers’ control of lesson plans. John Goralski, another local superintendent, adds, “[CCSS is] providing kids with higher-level thinking skills…It requires our teachers to continue to challenge students and for the most part, our students are meeting the challenges.”

What It Means: As the article points out anecdotally, CCSS continue to enjoy overwhelming support among educators. A Scholastic study last fall found more than eight in 10 teachers who have worked closely with the Standards are enthusiastic about implementation and more than two-thirds report an improvement in their students’ critical thinking and reasoning abilities. Parents too remain strongly committed to high, comparable academic standards; a study this month found about two-thirds of respondents support the principles of CCSS even if they don’t like the brand Common Core.

Hechinger Report, “Does the Anti-Common Core Movement Have a Race Problem?”: An NBC News poll found that a plurality of white parents (49%) oppose CCSS but a majority of Hispanic parents (73%) and African-American parents (56%) support the Standards. The National Council of La Raza’s Leticia de la Vera explains educational equity is especially important among Latinos. “These standards are leveling the playing field so that our kids are not relegated to lesser instruction because of the zip code that they are born into,” she says. “This is a way to make sure that schools aren’t pre-determining the abilities of our children.” “In poll after poll, we have seen that blacks and Latinos have always desired a higher education more than whites,” adds Andre Perry, dean of urban education at Davenport University. “But they haven’t received the quality of education that would give them the access to higher education. So when things like the Common Core are proposed there is hope.”

What It Means: By holding all students to rigorous academic expectations, CCSS help create greater educational equity and better ensure that more students from all backgrounds graduate high school prepared for college or a career. Strong support for the Standards among minority and low-income students underscores the promise that CCSS hold to help level the playing field and provide more students with the resources to succeed at high levels of learning.



Correcting the Record:

Nevada Appeal, “Republicans to Present Bill Repealing Common Core Standards”: Assemblyman Brent Jones presented a bill, AB 303, on Wednesday to the Assembly Education Committee seeking to repeal CCSS in Nevada. Jones said the Standards are confusing, will mandate curriculum and materials, and jeopardize student privacy. He recommended that the state adopt Massachusetts’ former education standards and later develop its own criteria. “We need to do what’s proven to work and not experiment on our kids,” Jones said. “Whenever the federal government gets involved and says one size fits all, that’s a problem.” Education officials estimate it would cost $110 million to go back to the state’s previous standards, the Reno Gazette Journal reportsSandra Stotsky, an outspoken CCSS critic, was among those to testify on Wednesday. After the hearings, Assemblyman Harvey Munford, one of the sponsors of the bill, said, “I don’t know if I’m in a position to make a clear decision.”

Where They Went Wrong: CCSS are a set of standards – not curriculum – and do not dictate what is taught in the classroom or which materials are used, as many articles in Nevada have claimed. The Standards also do not change the Federal laws governing student privacy and do not support the collection of any personally identifiable data from students. What Assemblyman Jones is overlooking with his repeal bill is the cost of repealing the Standards. In Nevada, repeal would come at a heavy cost, create greater uncertainty for students and teachers, and put students at a disadvantage to their peers in states that continue to implement rigorous standards. States like South Carolina and Oklahoma have already demonstrated the risk of repealing CCSS based on political motivations. CCSS are based off the best available practices and data and represent a “good-faith effort” to ensure more students are prepared for college or a career, as Fordham Institute’s Mike Petrilli has written.


On Our Reading List:

Achieve, “Towards a Better Test: Communicating Assessment Results to Families & Educators”: On April 14, 2:00-3:00 p.m. EST, Achieve will host a webinar to help teachers communicate and parents to better understand results from new student assessments. Noting reports from year-end assessments have not been as useful as they should be, Achieve has developed sample reports that it will use to model a discussion about how education leaders can best put exam results to use and effectively communicate results to families. The event is open to the public, and registration information can be found here.

Jackson Clarion-Ledger, “Anti-Common Core Bill Goes to Governor”: On Tuesday, legislation that would establish a commission to review Mississippi’s Common Core standards and sever ties with the PARCC testing consortia passed both chambers of the state legislature. Language that would have required the state board of education adopt 75% of the commission’s recommendations was removed from the final version. “This legislation will end Common Core and allow Mississippians to create strong academic standards that are among the highest in the nation,” said Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves. The bill, HB 2161, passed in the Senate by a vote of 87-29 and in the House with only six votes against it. The Associated Press reports that Gov. Phil Bryant said he is unsure if he will sign the bill because the commission may not make a difference and the board of education would not be required to accept proposed changes.