News You Can Use:

PBS Newshour, “What the First Round of Test Results Say about Common Core Progress”: As states release results from the first assessments aligned to Common Core State Standards, the scores have felt “like a bucket of cold water.” But parents should be patient and refuse to turn back on efforts to raise academic expectations, say New Jersey educators and policymakers. “When you raise the standards, as the Common Core has been trying to do, you’re judging against a higher level of expectations for students,” says Drew Gitomer of Rutgers University. “And there may have been a false sense of proficiency under the previous state testing regime.” “We can use the information we’re going to be getting from PARCC to help us close curriculum and instruction gaps in individual classrooms throughout the state of New Jersey. Our prior test could not do that,” explains David Hespe, New Jersey’s education commissioner. Common Core is “about more than tests,” the piece notes, and districts must look at supports for teachers and students, Hespe says. The reports ends by noting Ohio has “simply lowered the bar by setting its own more modest pass rates.”

What It Means: Over the past several years, states have begun the difficult work of addressing Honesty Gaps by implementing rigorous education standards and high-quality assessments. This year most passed an important milestone by administering those tests. Mike Petrilli, president of the Fordham Institute, explains that while the results are “sobering,” parents and policymakers “should resist the siren song of those who want to use this moment of truth to attack the Common Core or the associated tests.” Similarly, Karen Nussle explains in a recent memo, “States are finally measuring to levels that reflect what students need to know and be able to do,” and for parents and educators, “that should come as a welcome change.” As the article notes, Common Core State Standards go beyond assessments; they set rigorous, consistent learning goals for all students, which better ensure young people will develop the skills and knowledge they need to succeed at high levels of learning.

Correcting the Record:

Long Island Herald, “Supporting Students not Scores”: During a forum in upstate New York, several participants criticized the state’s Common Core standards and related tests for taking away from classroom learning. “There are an awful a lot of people who say that without these standards, we will not be able to deliver the high-quality education that kids are going to need,” said Steven Cohen, a local superintendent. “These folks send their kids to private schools that don’t do any of this. The relationships between the teachers and the test standards have created the perfect national marketplace.” “It’s scary to think that there might be a lot more money and corruption behind what they are trying to teach our children,” added Carla Hoene, a PTA chapter president. “People are starting to notice that children are geared more towards robotic learning rather than the traditional ways of learning such as playing and socialization.” “I think that it’s best that we come together in forums, such as these, to listen and learn from each other in order to make the best decisions for our children,” said Lori Koerner, one of the organizers.

Where They Went Wrong: Common Core State Standards are designed to ensure all students are held to rigorous academic expectations that prepare them for college and careers. Teachers overwhelmingly support the standards because they empower greater flexibility and creativity in classrooms and give educators autonomy to meet student needs. A Scholastic study last fall found more than 80 percent of teachers who worked closely with the Common Core remain enthusiastic about implementation, and more than two-thirds saw an improvement in students’ critical thinking and reasoning skills.

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Associated Press, “No Child Left Behind Rewrite Nears Final Approval”: The U.S. Senate is expected to vote today on the Every Student Succeeds Act, a rewrite of the No Child Left Behind Act. Senate approval would send the legislation to the White House, where President Obama is expected to sign it. The bill maintains annual testing requirements in grades three through eight and once in high school, and reduces the federal government’s role in education. Under the law, states and districts would come up with their own goals for schools, design their own measures of achievement and progress, and decide how to turn around struggling schools. “We have an opportunity to inaugurate a new era of innovation and excellence in student achievement by restoring responsibility to states and classroom teachers,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander, who has led the rewrite efforts with Sen. Patty Murray.

WJLA ABC 7 Washington, “Test Scores Released for Maryland Show Huge Gap between Neighboring Counties”: Results from the first PARCC assessments administered this spring in Maryland show a “huge gap” between Montgomery and Prince George’s counties in student proficiency rates in math and reading. Scores were released Tuesday by the State Department of Education. Statewide, 39 percent of students scored proficient in English language arts, and 29 percent in math. In Montgomery County, 46 and 37 percent of students met or exceeded proficiency benchmarks in English and math, respectively. In Prince George’s County, 25 and 15 percent of students were proficient in the same subjects.

Daily Freeman, “MaryEllen Elia, State Education Commissioner, Meets with Teachers, Tours New Paltz Schools”: Discussing implementation of Common Core State Standards in New York, Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia said, “What happened in New York is we’ve had multiple changes and people would start down a pathway and then there’d be a change; then, they’d start down that pathway and then there’d be another change. We did it four times and I think that’s where we are right now.” Elia also said state officials are considering options to alleviate teachers’ concerns, including reducing testing times, removing portions of tests, creating a teacher group to evaluate exams, and giving more control to districts to decide how standards are integrated into curricula.