News You Can Use:

Think Progress, “11 Things You’ll Probably Hear During the First GOP Debate That Are Totally False”: Among the issues candidates are likely to obfuscate in tonight’s Republican debate is the idea that Common Core State Standards are a scheme to drive curriculum from Washington, Kira Lerner writes. While the participants are mixed in their position, ranging from support to calls for repeal, several have recanted their prior positions to decry the standards. “Common Core was developed by the states with input from teachers, education experts and business leaders,” the piece notes. “The standards have become deeply controversial even though they have not changed since they were first released. At the time, both Republican and Democrats heralded the standards as one of the most promising school reforms in decades.”

What It Means: Despite once strongly supporting the Common Core, several GOP leaders have changed their position and further perpetuated misleading information pushed by opponents. Only a handful of the Republican leaders have had the political courage to stand by their support. Yet, as the article points out, little has changed in the years since the standards were introduced. At the same time, the public continues to support rigorous college- and career-ready standards. As Karen Nussle wrote recently, parents fundamentally support academic expectations that prepare their child for success, and polling indicates more than two-thirds of Republican voters support high, comparable education standards even if they dislike the term “Common Core.”

Chalkbeat New York, “Ahead of State’s Common Core Review, Commissioner Elia Looks Outside New York”: New York Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia, who stepped into the position earlier this year, said she embraces state lawmakers’ decision to review the state’s Common Core standards. “It allows everyone to have a voice, particularly the practitioners who are implementing standards in our school,” Elia said in July. “The biggest win in a review is that the reviewers actually read the standards, some I’m sure for the first time,” added Ken Slentz, a superintendent in upstate New York. Elia pointed success in states like Kentucky and Tennessee, where reviews have included public comment periods, online surveys and official working groups. “Many states are merely making tweaks because they are discovering that the Common Core are, in fact, well aligned with the research on college and career readiness,” said Mike Petrilli, president of the Fordham Institute. “It’s impossible to come up with college and career ready standards that look nothing like Common Core.”

What It Means: New York’s decision to review the Common Core demonstrates states’ efforts to refine and build on the framework established by the standards. The article notes that prior to adopting Common Core State Standards and high-quality assessments, 86 percent of students were deemed “proficient” in math and 77 percent in English, even though a majority were not college- or career-ready. As the Honesty Gap analysis found, since adopting high standards and tougher assessments, New York now has proficiency requirements that exceed NAEP, ensuring that – when met – students are fully prepared for higher level learning. By mirroring successes in Kentucky and Tennessee, New York will position itself to further strengthen its standards, ensuring that more students graduate high school fully prepared for college or a career.


Correcting the Record:

Gloucester Times, “Common Core Opponents Make Ballot Campaign Official”: On Tuesday a group called End Common Core Massachusetts submitted to the State Attorney General a petition for a 2016 ballot initiative that seeks to replace state’s Common Core standards with the education standards previously in place. The initiative would also establish committees of public school teachers and higher education leaders to review the state’s curriculum framework. Donna Colorio, who chairs the coalition, said the decision to adopt Common Core State Standards “lowered the education standards in Massachusetts.” State Sen. Ryan Fattman and State Reps. Kevin Kuros and Donald Bertiaume were among the initial signers of the petition. Gov. Charlie Baker has not weighed in on the state’s standards but in 2010, before becoming governor, testified before the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education against the standards.

Where They Went Wrong: Even states like Massachusetts, which had some of the strongest education standards in the country, voluntarily adopted Common Core State Standards because of their academic rigor and comparability. By empowering states to measure how well they are preparing students relative to other states across the country, Common Core helps ensure states uphold academic expectations that fully prepare students for college and career. States that have led implementation of the standards, like Kentucky and Tennessee, have experienced steady academic improvements in recent years, and evidence suggests other states will achieve similar results by holding students to high learning goals and providing better information to parents and teachers.


On Our Reading List:

Education Week, “Preview the GOP Presidential Debate: What to Expect on Education”: Ahead of the first Republican presidential debate hosted by Fox News and Facebook (9pm ET, tonight), the article says, “Expect [Common Core] to be the name of the game.” Noting at least four candidates are likely to be critical of Common Core State Standards – Sen. Ted Cruz, Sen. Rand Paul, Donald Trump and Ben Carson – the article says more telling will be whether Ohio Gov. John Kasich and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush tout their support.

Associated Press, “Washington Board of Education Sets Lower Bar on Common Core Tests”: The Washington State Board of Education decided Wednesday to set graduation cut-scores on its Smarter Balanced exams at near 2.5 – below the 3 or 4 level that indicates college- and career-readiness. The Smarter Balanced assessment replaced the state’s old reading and writing exam for graduation. Passing the math portion won’t be a graduation requirement for a few more years. Officials attempted to set the pass level at a point where about as many kids are expected to pass the exam as passed the state’s previous tests, the article reports. “The bottom line is the Board was trying to be fair. We’re transitioning between two systems,” said Ben Rarick, executive director of the state Board of Education.