News You Can Use:, “Would you opt your child out of your state’s annual assessments?”:  The Collaborative for Student Success has launched a simple page to raise awareness about the costs & consequences of opting out. Visit, for more information on what happens when you opt out, and valuable resources on assessments.

Education Week, “Arkansas Governor: Look at Revising, Renaming Common Core”: The Arkansas Board of Education “should look at renaming Common Core,” Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Wednesday. The Governor’s Common Core review task force recommended last month that “the state should continue using Common Core but conduct a broader look at where to change and replace the standards.” Hutchinson also said the Department should look at any copyright issues with the standards as it “revises the math and English benchmarks.” The review and revision process should be completed by July 2016.

What It Means: Arkansas’ decision to review the Common Core demonstrates states’ efforts to refine and build on the framework established by the standards. As the Honesty Gap analysis found for the 2013-14 school year, Arkansas showed a 51-point discrepancy between state reported proficiency scores and NAEP in fourth-grade reading, and a 36-point discrepancy in eighth-grade math. By reviewing and keeping high, comparable standards like the Common Core, Arkansas will position itself to ensure that more students graduate high school fully prepared for college or a career.

Christianity Today, “Education Can Build Our Faith”: Andrea Reyes Ramirez, executive director of NHCLC’s Faith and Education Coalition, invites faith leaders and others interested in incorporating their faith with education to join the coalition. She says “there are many creative options for highlighting education in your church,” which can be found at Ramirez also announced Education Sunday, which will take place Sunday, Sept. 6, and will feature thousands of Hispanic churches “raising the standards to equip children in our congregations and our communities” and affirming “a parent’s freedom to choose how to school their children.”

What It Means: Rigorous academic expectations are necessary to fully prepare students for college and career readiness and leaders from the Hispanic Evangelical community recognize the need for education equality across states and school districts. Earlier this year, faith leaders gathered in Atlanta, Georgia and launched the Faith and Education Coalition, a long-term commitment to providing each generation access to consistently high quality educational opportunity in the United States. The coalition believes that literate students who are able to think critically and solve problems will become the backbone of not only a strong democratic society but also of a biblically-literate and justice-minded Church.

Metro News, “Standardized Test Results Could Boost Common Core”: The newest set of West Virginia score results included some good and some bad news the piece says; “The most positive news is that in ELA and literacy proficiency, West Virginia students in grades three through eight and grade eleven scored higher than the field test averages.” It also notes that West Virginia’s third graders scored better than their cohorts nationally on the Smarter Balanced exams. 46 percent of third graders were proficient in ELA and literacy compared with 38 percent from the other 17 states. 54 percent of the third graders scored proficient in math, compared with 39 percent from the field test.

What It Means: New high-quality assessments administered in most states for the first time this year better ensure that students are held to levels that prepare them for college and career readiness, and provide more constructive information for parents and teachers. West Virginia State Superintendent Dr. Michael Martirano noted that the third grade scores are significant because the new standards third grade students have had the benefit of the higher standards since kindergarten, longer than any other grade. Martirano noted, “Their performance on this assessment demonstrates the effectiveness of our state education standards which resulted in higher proficiency scores.”

Education Week, “Common Core’s Focus on Concepts Is Key to Improving Math Education, Report Says”: The Common Core State Standards’ emphasis on conceptual understanding in math will improve problem-solving skills and ultimately help prepare them for jobs of the future, argues a new report by the Center for American Progress. Under the Common Core, students spend more time learning the underlying math concepts and how to apply them. “As a result, students become stronger critical thinkers and problem solvers and will be better prepared for the rigorousness of today’s job market,” the authors write.

What It Means: By setting consistent, high learning goals for each grade and introducing students to multiple problem-solving methods in addition to traditional techniques, Common Core State Standards help ensure that students develop the skills and knowledge to succeed at higher levels of learning. The Common Core State Standards also place a greater emphasis on content understanding and critical thinking, and empowers students to delve into materials in a way that goes further than simple recitation.


Correcting the Record:

Washington Post, “New York’s Common Core test scores flop yet again – with 20 percent of students opting out”: Common Core opponent Carol Burris calls New York State’s Common Core test scores a “flop” and “meaningless”. Burris also encourages the New York State Education Commissioner, MaryEllen Elia, to abandon the new Common Core aligned assessments calling them an “arduous exercise in multiple guess.”

Where They Went Wrong: 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. 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.”


On Our Reading List:

Idaho State Journal, “Time for Review of Idaho Core Educational Standards”: The Idaho Department of Education opened its public review of the Common Core State Standards, inviting “parents, educators and any other stakeholders” to give a “virtual thumbs up or thumbs down” to the program. Comments will be accepted through Dec. 15, after which comments will be reviewed by a “team of Idaho educators and stakeholders” that will make recommendations on changes to the Board of Education. Through the comment site, people can suggest ways to refine standards they disagree with or even “suggest a new standard.”

Brookings Institute, “The Complicated Politics of National Standards: The Many Sources of Opposition”: The first of a three-part series detailing some of the main arguments against the Common Core State Standards and refuting each one to set the record straight. The article notes that “surveys of teachers and the general public reveal growing opposition to the Common Core as it entered its first year of full implementation nationwide in 2014-15” but the surveys also show that “most people” don’t know much about them. Furthermore, “much of what they think they know is incorrect.”, “Two-Thirds Of Students Miss Performance Standards On AZ Merit Test”: Unofficial scores indicate that “about two-thirds” of public school students in Arizona “failed to meet new performance standards for math and language arts.” A spokesman for the Arizona Department of Education said this was “expected as the state transitions to Common Core standards,” and acknowledged that “it may be a bit of a surprise to parents” who expected to see scores similar to previous tests. “But this is a new test, and [we] really have to look at it as a fresh start.” Pearl Chang Esau with the education advocacy group Expect More Arizona said the results underscore a bigger problem. “The scores really highlight the need to make education a top priority in our state,” she said. “Particularly, the commitment to closing the achievement gap. Arizona has a pretty significant achievement gap for students that come from low-income backgrounds.”