News You Can Use:

Campus Technology, “Survey: Most Profs Find HS Grads Unready for College or Work”: High school graduates are entering college and the workforce inadequately prepared, according to a new study from Achieve, an independent education advocacy organization. Only 14 percent of college instructors believe K-12 schools are sufficiently preparing students for college-level work, down from 28 percent in 2004. Twenty-nine percent of employers said the same, down from nearly 50 percent in 2004. Part of the problem, as students themselves say, is that schools do not set academic expectations high enough. Fifty-four percent of student respondents said they were only “somewhat challenged” in high school, and 20 percent said it is “easy to slide by.” “Employers and college instructors are affirming what recent graduates themselves have told us; the expectations of high schools do not line up with the expectations of postsecondary education and the working world,” said Michael Cohen, president of Achieve. “We are hearing time and again that too many students with high school diplomas, who are told that they have met the requirements to move onto their next steps, are simply not adequately prepared to succeed in college or in a job.”

What It Means: The Achieve findings reaffirm what countless educators, employers, students and parents already know: that old models of education set classroom expectations too low to fully prepare students for post-graduation challenges. By setting rigorous, comparable learning goals for all students, Common Core State Standards ensure more students will graduate high school prepared for life after high school. A Scholastic study last year found that two-thirds of teachers who worked closely with the Common Core saw an improvement in students’ critical thinking and reasoning skills, and in early adopter states like Kentucky and Tennessee, students have made some of the biggest academic improvements in the country.

US News & World Report, “To Teach the Common Core Way, Schools Turn to Teacher Coaches”: As school districts work to implement Common Core State Standards, many have turned to instructional coaches to support teacher efforts. Teacher coaching programs help educators align classroom lessons with the shift towards deeper conceptual understanding in math, the use of more nonfiction materials and evidence-based writing. “There’s demand across all types of school systems,” says Diane Sweeney, an education consultant. “Now districts are turning to a partnership approach, where coach and teacher focus on student outcomes.” “You can send teachers to graduate school or to professional development sessions, but this is really the only way you can improve their teaching,” adds Brian Pick, a director for the District of Columbia. The practice is having an impact. One study suggests training sessions alone translate into classroom changes only 10 percent of the time, while under instruction from teaching coaches that rate jumps to more than 90 percent.

What It Means: In school districts across the country, education officials are working to provide teachers the support to effectively teach to the Common Core State Standards. Teacher coaching programs demonstrate practical steps that schools are taking to help ensure both teachers and students have the resources to meet higher academic expectations and set students on a path of college- and career-readiness. While two-thirds of teachers who worked closely with the Common Core said they saw an improvement in student’s critical thinking and reasoning skills, according to a Scholastic study last year, about eight in 10 also said implementation was challenging.


Correcting the Record:

New York Times, “Super PAC Supporting Ted Cruz to Post Internet Ads”: Keep the Promise I, one of four super PACs supporting Sen. Ted Cruz, launched two Internet ads this week that are part of a seven-figure media buy spread over the rest of the year. One of the two spots, “Education,” focuses on Sen. Cruz’s criticism of the Common Core State Standards. “There are other areas the federal government has no business being involved, and right at the top of that list is education,” Sen. Cruz says in the ad. “Education is too important for it to be governed by unelected bureaucrats in Washington. It needs to be at the state level, or even better at the local level. We need to repeal every word of Common Core. It will only come from millions of courageous conservatives rising up and saying we want our country back.”

Where They Went Wrong: GOP leaders must be able to answer the question, “What if states choose to adopt the implement the Common Core State Standards?” Local control – a position supported by conservative lawmakers – dictates that a state should be able to adopt whichever academic standards it chooses. The super PAC’s ad conflates Common Core State Standards with federal control of education, a position that objective analysis has consistently rejected. Common Core State Standards were developed through state-led consortia, and states voluntarily adopted the standards. After two national elections, all but one of the 45 states to initially adopt the Common Core continue to use the standards or some similar version. This year no states were successful in passing legislation to repeal the standards, including some of the most conservative states in the country. As Karen Nussle wrote recently, one reason is that it is impossible to draft education standards that adequately prepare students for college and career readiness and that look nothing like the Common Core.


On Our Reading List:

Education Week“What Does Jeb Bush See as the Federal Role in K-12? Hint: Not Setting Standards”: During the first Republican presidential candidates’ forum Monday night, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said education standards must be “state-driven and locally implemented.” He added that the federal role should be to support state efforts. Without mentioning Common Core State Standards by name, Gov. Bush, who has stood by his support, said, “We need higher standards, we need robust accountability, school choice, ending social promotion, a comprehensive plan to make sure that more than a third of our kids are college- or career-ready.” Former New York Gov. George Pataki was the only other candidate to address education standards, saying he would seek to get rid of the Common Core.

Acadiana Advocate“Milton: State Mishandled Rollout of Common Core”: The new president of the Lousiana Association of School Superintendents applauded Common Core State Standards on Monday but said state education officials bungled the rollout. “The implementation was not done well,” said Hollis Milton. “We have to admit that to the public.” State Superintendent John White disagreed. White said the State Department of Education provided ample help for local school districts, including detailed reviews of curricula submitted by publishers. “The fact of the matter is implementation worked,” White said. Milton added that Common Core is helping the state’s students. “The Common Core Standards have been good for my children,” he said. “The standards stand for themselves. They have credibility.”

Associated Press“Governor Haslam Names Common Core Review Panel”: Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and the speakers of the State House and Senate appointed 10 members to a committee tasked with reviewing the state’s Common Core Standards. Gov. Haslam appointed Sharen Cypress, Tracy Franklin, Amy Gullion, and Doug Hungate. Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey selected Shirley Curry, Darcie Finch, and Lyle Ailshie. House Speaker Beth Harwell tapped Cathy Kolb, Shannon Duncan, and David Pickler.