News You Can Use:

Collaborative for Student Success, “New York Scores Are In”: The Collaborative for Student Success posted a round-up of yesterday’s responses to the state test score release in New York. Chris Minnich, executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers said, “New York has been a leader in raising the bar for all students to better prepare them for college and careers. We see consistently across the country that this is hard work, and one year’s scores do not tell the complete story.” High Achievement New York leaders issued a statement congratulating New York students on their gains and also addressed the concerning opt-out movement, “Opt outs in such concentrated areas and among a concentrated segment of lower performers outside of the State’s cities are bad not just for the children who did not take the assessments – and therefore do not have a year-to-year guide on their college and career readiness – but also skewed the results across the state by denying an accurate year-to-year picture of New York’s progress on the assessments.”

What It Means: Because of higher academic standards coupled with new, high quality assessments, students in New York and across the country are increasingly focused on the things that matter most: critical thinking, problem solving, and writing. As a result, they are on track to becoming better prepared academically for life after high school. While these new assessments are just one measure of a student’s knowledge, they are an invaluable resource to parents and kids because they allow teachers to identify and correct problem areas early, before it’s too late.

The Herald News, “The Surprising Way Parents Are Helping Their Children with Their Homework”: Parents are “going back to school, taking classes or practicing math online” to help with the children’s homework. “It’s like having a nightmare when you’re trying to help your child over some hurdle but you’re given foreign instructions,” one parent said. The article notes that Suffolk County Community College in New York has “started a multiple week course for parents” focusing on “math strategies” that are very different for parents but are designed to “help children make math more applicable to their lives.” Some schools officials, however, note that “struggling with homework is part of the process of learning.”

What It Means: Education has come a long way from the days of students standing in rows reciting memorized facts, but today’s classrooms and materials look very different to parents wanting to support their children. To that end, some districts, schools and advocacy organizations are creating tools to help parents. Websites like offer valuable resources like a Skills Builder and other practical advice for parents to help children unlock their potential.

West Virginia Public Broadcasting, “W.Va. Third Graders Exceeding National Testing Estimates”: Preliminary test scores from the West Virginia Department of Education indicate that “students who have been taught under … Common Core standards since kindergarten are exceeding national estimates.” The state’s third grades were “the first” to have the standards “integrated into their classrooms,” and those students “tested five points higher” on math and “eight points higher” in English Language Arts. In a press release issued by the State Department of Education, State Superintendent Dr. Michael Martirano said, “Their performance on this assessment demonstrates the effectiveness of our state education standards which resulted in higher proficiency scores.”

What It Means: West Virginia’s third graders are on-track to realize the full potential of the Common Core, which research has shown improves learning progress the longer students are exposed to it. Beginning in kindergarten, the now-third graders have always learned under the higher quality and more rigorous standards of the Common Core. Instead of going back, as naysayers would do through repeal efforts, Dr. Martirano is right in saying, “It’s clear we must remain steadfast in our commitment to increase student achievement in the areas of math and science.”


Correcting the Record:

Charleston Gazette Mail, “Majority of W.Va. Students Miss Mark On New Common-Core Aligned Test”: West Virginia fifth graders “tested proficient” in math or English Language Arts on the new assessments, but students in other grades fared more poorly. The test “doesn’t count toward students’ grades,” and State School Superintendent Michael Martirano called the results a “baseline” for “future years.” School officials touted the performance of third graders who “beat expectations the most,” noting that they had been learning under the standards “the longest – since kindergarten.” Still, on math proficiency ratings, 18 percent of ninth graders, 15 percent of 10th graders, and 20 percent of 11th graders were deemed proficient. Gubernatorial candidate and State Sen. President Bill Cole, who has pledged to get rid of the Common Core State Standards, said the results show that “we are failing our students … While there is some positive news in our younger students, the fact remains that we have barely prepared our high school students to succeed at the next levels of education.”

Where They Went Wrong: State officials have been correctly characterizing this first year of assessments results as baseline scores that can be used for comparison against future years to more accurately measure student academic progress. The bright spot of third graders outperforming national estimates clearly shows that the longer students are exposed to the Common Core, the better their progress. Opponents who pledge to repeal the standards are either willfully misinterpreting results or don’t understand that any program takes time for full implementation and that upending academic standards will lead to chaos such that states like Missouri are experiencing.


On Our Reading List:

New York Times, “20% of New York State Students Opted Out of Standardized Tests This Year”: More than 200,000 students in grades three through eight – 20 percent of New York’s students – “sat out” the state’s tests, a “sizable” drop from last year when just 5 percent skipped the tests. The numbers show “the growing strength of the ‘opt out’ movement” and also puts “immediate pressure on state and federal officials,” who now have to decide whether – and how – to penalize schools and districts with “low participation rates.”

Politico New York, “City, state teachers’ unions take different tacks on exam scores”: New York’s city and state teachers’ unions had vastly different responses Wednesday to the release of state test scores, underlining the conflicting opinions on the Common Core State Standards and the opt-out movement the unions have adopted. Karen Magee, the New York State United Teachers president, directly encouraged parents to have their children boycott the state tests earlier this year, while the city United Federation of Teachers President, Michael Mulgrew, responded with a statement on Wednesday that did not address the opt-out movement but rather praised the city students’ modest gains on the exams.