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A New Year, a New Call to Education Equality | Ministry Today Magazine
Despite improvements in classroom equity, people of color continue to “see very clearly how educational opportunity can vary from one zip code to another,” writes Leticia Reyes, doctorate candidate at Dallas Baptist University. “For this reason, we must commit ourselves not only to ensuring educational equity for our own children, but for all children including those attending public schools… Together we can help raise the standards for all children in our communities so they can reach their God-given potential.” Like Reyes, Dr. Antipas Harris wrote last month, “Unless we are willing to hold all students to rigorous expectations, and to ensure they have the support they need to meet them, we will continue to fall short of the collective call to treat all of God’s children with proper support.”

States Are Setting Bar Higher for ‘Proficiency’ | Education Week
States are raising their expectations for student proficiency and implementing high-quality tests that give parents and teachers better information about how prepared children are, according to both a follow-up analysis by Achieve and the Collaborative for Student Success and a study published by Education Next. Achieve’s Honesty Gap report notes that 26 states closed discrepancies between state-reported proficiency rates and NAEP. “Policymakers are mustering the political courage to level with parents about the fact that our students are not prepared for college or the workforce, and are now able to make policies that align with the reality of student preparedness,” Karen Nussle explains.

Harvard Study Shows Common Core Has Support of Educators and Is Bringing Positive Changes to the Classroom | Collaborative for Student Success
A new study from Harvard’s Center for Education Policy Research looks at how educators across five states are using Common Core State Standards. The recently released report assesses educators’ efforts to meet the demands of their states’ recently adopted higher standards and finds that the standards have fostered significant positive instructional changes in classrooms and are garnering positive sentiment among a majority of teachers and principals. Read the full study here.

Correcting the Record:

Put Testing in Its Rightful Place | US News & World Report
Opposition to new Common Core assessments have led to their review, revision or replacement in many states,” writes Nat Malkus, a research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. “Concerns over the time spent on tests and test prep have boiled over into opt-out movements, in which students refuse to sit for tests in large numbers, and kept the test controversy kettle whistling.” While Malkus goes on to correctly identify that the Every Student Succeeds Act alleviates federal involvement, the piece ignores that states have adopted a high, consistent baseline for student readiness and high-quality assessments that align to it. Here is where Malkus goes wrong:

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PARCC Considers Reorganization, Seeks Input to Shape Its Future | Education Week
On Tuesday, the PARCC Governing Board invited public input to determine whether the organization should restructure to better deliver test options. PARCC officials said all parts of its assessment system including instructional support will continue as it considers possible changes. “This is a natural progression,” said Hanna Skandera, head of the Governing Board. “It’s the right timing to ask questions and get the best thinking.”

Tennessee Freezes Testing Contract as Online Glitches Derail TNReady Debut | Chalkbeat Tennessee
A day after technical problems disrupted Tennessee’s switch to online tests, State Education Commissioner Candice McQueen said officials will review the contract with the test developer, Measurement Inc. “We have doubts about them going forward, and yes, we have concerns, and yes, we are reviewing that currently,” McQueen said during an interview Tuesday. Measurement Inc. was awarded the state’s testing contract in 2014 to develop the TNReady assessment, which was to be administered online and align with the state’s Common Core Standards.

State Education Board Backs Juneau’s ACT Decision for Juniors | Billings Gazette
The Montana Board of Education approved a plan for high school juniors to take the ACT in place of Smarter Balanced assessments to fulfill testing requirements. Board members criticized State Superintendent Denise Juneau for not informing them of the change, which was announced at the same time as results from Smarter Balanced tests administered last spring. “I’m just worried the decision just gets made, and there’s no discussion,” said Board member Paul Andersen.