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Where Are Teachers Getting Their Common-Core Instructional Material? | Education Week
A Harvard study finds Common Core State Standards are changing classroom instruction, and teachers are largely creating homegrown materials or turning to online resources. The report indicates teachers are putting more emphasis on non-fiction texts in English and emphasizing conceptual learning in math. Most teachers in the five states surveyed have changed their instructional material since the standards have been adopted. “When appropriate systems are in place, unshakable curriculum can be developed from Common Core State Standards,” Tyler Lawrence, a Colorado teacher wrote last year. “[Common Core has] put an emphasis on higher-level critical thinking, problem solving and complex texts.”

Common Core Repeal Bill Questioned by House Education Committee Members | The Register-Herald
Members of the West Virginia House Education Committee questioned a bill that would prohibit the state from using any Common Core State Standards. The legislation, HB 4014, would establish a six-person panel to create new standards and require schools to use the state’s 2010 standards in the interim. Christie Willis, a district director of curriculum and instruction, told lawmakers “going back to 2010 is going to cause problems.” “We are selling our teachers short if we say we want to bring in other experts to define our standards,” added Beverly Kingery, a member of the State Board of Education. “West Virginia teachers were involved with writing Common Core Standards.” A white paper by the Collaborative for Student Success notes that Oklahoma, which repealed its standards, has experienced “disruption, uncertainty and internal turmoil” as a result.

New Common Core Assessments Pass the Bar for Measuring the Most Important Content in the Standards | Brookings Institute
One of the hopes of assessments aligned to Common Core State Standards was that they would overcome poor content alignment and increase cognitive demand. A new study by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute indicates they achieve those goals. Comparing PARCC, Smarter Balanced, ACT Aspire and MCAS tests, the research found “the cognitive demand of the consortium and ACT assessments generally exceeded that of prior state tests,” Morgan Polikoff, coauthor of the report, writes. “The consortium tests had much more cognitively demanding tasks that met or exceeded the expectations in the standards.” A study by the National Network of State Teachers of the Year also found PARCC and Smarter Balanced assessments outperformed many states’ old tests. “I can say with confidence these new assessments are the kind we should want our kids to take,” Pam Reilly, a participant in the research, wrote last year.

Thirteen Real-World Skills Your Teen Needs | Great! Kids
High School Milestones, a project of Great! Kids, provides a series of videos explaining the skills that students need to succeed at high levels of learning. “It’s important that students have a range of learning strategies, because certain strategies work better for certain types of information,” says Bobby Cupp, a high school teacher. “Even if a parent doesn’t remember how to solve a specific problem, they can ask questions that focus less on getting the correct answer and more on how to explain their thinking,” says David Herron, also a high school teacher. A blog post by the Collaborative for Student Success points out that Common Core State Standards encourage students to use multiple problem-solving methods “so that they develop a full understanding of the concepts before they move on to more challenging levels.”

Correcting the Record:

We Asked Four Adults to Solve a Fourth-Grade Common Core Problem. Here’s What Happened… | Independent Journal Review
“What I’ve heard about Common Core is that adults can’t do it,” a man says at the outset of a video in which four adults are asked to solve a confusing math problem. The video goes on to show the participants struggling to make sense of the question. “Do you think this is appropriate for a fourth grader?” the host asks. “I wouldn’t teach them with this,” responds one participant. The video misrepresents the instructional changes introduced by the Common Core. Here is where the video gets it wrong:

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Obama Announces His Intent to Nominate John King Jr. to Officially Take the Role of Education Secretary | Washington Post
President Obama announced his intention to formally nominate John King, Jr. to the position of U.S. Education Secretary, which will require Congressional approval. King has served as Acting Secretary since December. “There is nobody better to continue leading our ongoing efforts to work toward preschool for all [and] prepare our kids so that they are ready for college and career,” President Obama said in a statement. A source says the Obama administration wants to have King firmly in place as Congress embarks on implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act. Senator Lamar Alexander, chair of Senate education committee, urged the President to formally nominate King and said he will receive a Republican support “barring some sort of ethical lapse.”

Illinois Moves ahead with New Testing Plan, Replacing ACT with SAT | Chicago Tribune
The Illinois Board of Education announced Thursday that the state will begin negotiating a contract with the College Board to administer the SAT assessment in place of the ACT for all public high school juniors. The College Board previously won a three-year bid to give the exams, but ACT filed an administrative appeal in December. “We understand the uncertainty with implementation, and we are working to keep districts updated throughout this process,” said Laine Evans, a spokesperson for the State Board of Education. Officials say they weighed both exams and determined the SAT better aligned with the state’s education standards.

Smarter Balanced Passes the Test, Researchers Say | The Oregonian
Studies by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and the Human Resources Research Organization find Oregon’s Smarter Balanced assessments “represent a gargantuan step up from the low-level multiple-choice tests” used before, Betsy Hammond reports. “Teachers have been asking for many years for good tests,” says Michael Petrilli, president of the Fordham Institute. Test-makers “have delivered on that, and it’s very good news.” The studies both conclude that Smarter Balanced and PARCC tests are high-quality tests that measure the most crucial skills emphasized by Common Core State Standards, and both tests require critical thinking more than simple recall.