Common Core Standards Daily Update // December 22, 2014

News You Can Use:

Associated Press: “Miss. Board of Education Releases Strategic Plan”: The Mississippi Board of Education announced a new strategic plan on Dec. 18, calling for large academic gains instead of incremental steps, including a 100% high school graduation rate and full proficiency on state tests for every student. Previous plans had called for an 83% graduation rate and 60% of students scoring proficient or higher. As part of the new goals, the Board of Education calls for continuing implementation of CCSS, despite opposition to the Standards from Gov. Phil Bryant and Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves. “It’s much bolder in terms of where we want to take the state,” said state Board of Education chairman John Kelly. ”When you set goals, I think they should be stretch goals, particularly when you talk about the future of our children.”

What It Means: The Mississippi Board of Education’s commitment to CCSS, despite political opposition, underscores the belief among educators that the higher standards will help achieve greater student outcomes. More than two-thirds of teachers who have worked closely with CCSS say they have seen an improvement in students’ critical thinking and reasoning skills, and 79% say they feel prepared to teach to the Standards.



Asbury Park Press: “Common Core Experiment Necessary Step”: Although material aligned to CCSS is more challenging, it is “necessary to keep pushing these rigorous standards,” writes Chase Lovgren, a high school student in Point Pleasant, NJ. Lovgren notes about 70 percent of New Jersey high-school graduates entering a two-year college require remediation. Like many students who recognize the importance of having high classroom expectations, Lovgren emphasizes the importance of setting an appropriately rigorous bar for students. “These standards are necessary for subjecting students to higher-level thinking skills…Inspiration is derived from the fundamentals; the CommonCore Standards and PARCC test are here to teach these principles and they aren’t going away any time soon,” he writes.

What It Means: Students value high academic expectations that push them to achieve their full potential, as this high school student notes. A recent Achieve study found that 87% of recent high-school graduates say they would have worked harder if their schools had set higher standards and raised expectations of course work. Additionally, 72% say they would have worked harder if they knew the challenges of post-secondary coursework. CCSS set a high bar for all students so that regardless of where they grow up or go to school, they will be encouraged to meet the demands of college or a competitive career.



Correcting the Record:

Hechinger Report: “Are We on the Verge of a Mass Common Core Repeal?”: Midterm elections, which “spell[ed] trouble for the Common Core,” will likely “lead to a new round of scrutiny of the standards and the tests tied to them,” writes Emmanuel Felton. Felton says opponents of the Standards have “chosen from a few paths” to undermine CCSS, including rebranding or reviewing the Standards, or replacing the tests tied to them. “I think over time there will be revisions especially around making sure the standards are developmentally appropriate for the younger grades and around calculus readiness in the higher grades,” Carol Burris, principal of South Side High School in New York, said. Fordham Institute’s Mike Petrilli disagreed. “Once you get past the politics, once you get past the history of the Common Core, there is near universal support for high college and career ready standards,” he said.

Where They Went Wrong: Despite more than 18 months of targeted attacks, warnings support for CCSS would be a litmus test for candidates did not emerge in November’s elections. The fact is, after two national elections and nearly five years in which states have been preparing for the higher standards, all but one of the 45 states to initial adopt CCSS continue to use them or some version tailored to state-specific needs. As Gov. Bob Riley recently pointed out, “[CCSS] allows a local superintendent or an elected board in a small community to determine how to get from point A to point B… They don’t dictate policy. They don’t dictate textbooks.”



Fox News: “Islamic Vocabulary Lesson Part of Common Core Standards”: Parents in Farmville, NC, expressed outrage at a lesson allegedly aligned to CCSS that included questions about the Islamic faith. “In the following exercises, you will have the opportunity to expand your vocabulary by reading about Muhammad and the Islamic word,” the assignment read in part.

Where They Went Wrong: CCSS do not determine what is taught in classrooms, including lesson plans or assignments. “[CCSS] don’t dictate policy. They don’t dictate textbooks,” Gov. Bob Riley correctly pointed out recently. PolitiFact gave a “Pants-on-Fire” rating to claims CCSS introduce political or religious beliefs into classrooms. “Determining the curriculum is left up to local school boards, districts, and teachers…We saw nothing in the standards that either directly or indirectly told students what beliefs they should hold, whether it be political or religious,” it wrote.