News You Can Use:


PARCC Puts Students on Right Path to Enter College / Newark Star-Ledger

Because an increasing number of jobs require post-secondary education, it’s important students have a path toward college- and career-readiness, which “begins with high academic standards,” writes Lawrence Nespoli, president of the New Jersey Council of County Colleges. Likewise, high-quality assessments like PARCC are needed to identify gaps in students’ progress. “College leaders use these scores to better understand students’ college preparedness and, at times, help high school students avoid costly remedial education that delays college-level study.” This week NPR reported 45 percent of students who require college remediation come from middle- and high-income families. In Jersey 46 percent of first-year college students have to take remedial courses. Evidence shows tests like PARCC do a good job of measuring student readiness and align with classroom instruction, helping students become ready for college and careers.

Correcting the Record:

Common Core Tests: Why the ‘Opt-Out’ Movement Isn’t Losing Steam / Christian Science Monitor

Despite changes made to improve state tests, the opt-out movement in New York is gaining increased traction among parents, an article by Story Hinckley alleges. “Parents argue that the tests assess their children on information they haven’t learned while implementing new learning approaches that ‘look like pure nonsense—or just a lot of extra work,’” the piece claims. “There is also evidence that the opt-out movement is gaining ground with parents of color,” argues Carol Burris in the Washington Post. In fact, initial reports show opt-out numbers in New York have not grown over last year, and as many media outlets have articulated, high-quality tests like New York’s are an important tool to ensure students are on track for college and careers. Here is where Hinckley gets it wrong:

Recognizing the Value of High-Quality Student Assessments, Many Families Are ‘Opting In’

Citing multiple media reports from last year, Story Hinckley erroneously reports for the Christian Science Monitor that opt-out efforts are gaining steam in New York this year. “Concerns go beyond testing conditions to the ‘whys’ and ‘hows’ of standardized tests. Parents argue that the tests assess their children on information they haven’t learned while implementing new learning approaches that ‘look like pure nonsense—or just a lot of extra work.’”

But despite concerted opt-out campaigns, which include robo-calls to families, many parents are refusing to have their children sit out the tests. In Manhattan’s Public School 124, the entire student body participated in the state tests, the New York Times reported this week. There educators offered after school support to students who needed extra practice to prepare for exams.

“Tests are critically important,” the New York Daily News editorial board wrote. “New York has done everything imaginable to ease the supposedly unmanageable stress piled on Janies and Johnnies throughout the state. Everything imaginable, short of running all exams through the shredder.”


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ESSA Negotiators Talk Rules for Math Tests, ELLs, But Not Sticky Spending Issues / Education Week

Following the first round of negotiated rulemaking on the Every Student Succeeds Act on Wednesday, there’s a “good chance” the committee will have to convene for an optional third multi-day session later this month and that officials may not reach an agreement, Alyson Klein reports. No regulations we settled during on Wednesday, but the discussion “remained collegial and collaborative.” Issues discussed included math accountability for advanced level classes and assessments in other languages for students who aren’t proficient in English. Supplement-not-supplant, “the toughest issue on the table,” will not be discussed until later in the three-day session.

So Far, Common Core Testing in ‘Much Better Place,’ Officials Say / Las Vegas Sun

Initial rounds of student assessments in Nevada’s Clark County School District have gone smoothly since testing began in March, district officials report. Seven percent of students in grades three through eight have taken the Smarter Balanced exams. Last year technical problems prevented many students across the state from completing the exams. Nevada replaced its previous vendor, Measured Progress, with McGraw-Hill last August. “We’re in a much better place than we were last year,” says Tiffany Seibel, the district’s director of assessment.