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Does Your State Have the Best Assessment? | Collaborative for Student Success
Two first-of-their-kind studies by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and the Human Resources Research Organization conclude PARCC and Smarter Balanced assessments go beyond old “bubble tests” by measuring real-world skills like critical thinking, problem solving and analysis. “PARCC and Smarter Balanced are able to provide teachers and parents with better information about specific areas in each subject where a student is excelling or needs more support,” the blog notes. “This helps drive instruction.” Last fall Josh Parker, 2012 Maryland Teacher of the Year and a participant in a similar study by the National Network of State Teachers of the Year, wrote: “The increased rigor of the new exams…means students are now measured to levels that truly reflect the skills and knowledge base they need to get and stay on a path of college- and career-readiness.”

Common Core Standards: A Necessary Step Forward | Easton Courier
Taryn Vanderburg, a Connecticut elementary school teacher, writes that she and her colleagues “used current research on child development to create rich and dynamic learning experiences while honoring the student in the learning process.” “Much of what is criticized about the Common Core is simply wrong,” the letter adds. “The Common Core is difficult, new, and a large step forward…The goals are clear, our curriculum is substantiated by the latest research and respects the professional judgment of classroom teachers.” Like Vanderburg, last year 21 State Teachers of the Year wrote, “Under the Common Core, teachers have greater flexibility to design their classroom lessons—and can, for the first time, take advantage of the best practices from great teachers in other states.”

Harvard Study: Delaware Teachers, Principals Embracing Common Core | Newsworks
A study by Harvard University’s Center for Education Policy Research finds teachers in five states—Delaware, Massachusetts, Maryland, Nevada and New Mexico—have overwhelmingly embracing Common Core State Standards. Seventy-three percent of teachers report their schools have embraced the Common Core “fully” or “quite a bit,” and 69 percent of principals believe the standards will lead to “improved student learning.” Among math teachers, 82 percent have changed more than half of their instructional materials, as have 72 percent of English teachers. “This study gives a voice to what I hear from so many educators in schools across our state: Common Core is better preparing our students,” said Delaware Governor Jack Markell. Mike Petrilli and Chester Finn of the Fordham Institute wrote this month, “By our lights, [Common Core State Standards] are dramatically clearer and stronger than most of the state standards they replaced (and on par with the rest).”

Districts’ Leaders Anticipate Higher Math Scores This Year | Ed Source
Educators in California are confident they will be able to improve student scores on statewide assessments this year largely because of two actions: 1) introducing materials to help support curricula aligned to the state’s education standards, and 2) providing ongoing support for teachers. “We are not doing test prep or teaching to the test,” explains one teacher. “Good teaching of the standards – including the mathematical practices – should make a difference in our students’ scores.” Recent studies reaffirm Smarter Balanced tests, which California uses, better measure the skills students need to succeed academically. Nancy Doorey of the Fordham Institute notes, “Common Core and similar college and career ready standards have set a new, higher bar for our students,” and policymakers should continue a “higher bar for the tests states use to measure their progress.”

Correcting the Record:

Ted Cruz: Abolish Department of Education | WND News
In a recent interview, Senator Ted Cruz reiterated his pledge to end the Common Core, criticizing the standards as a federal intrusion into local education. “In the very first days in office, I intend to instruct the federal Department of Education that Common Core ends that day,” Sen. Cruz said. However, the newly minted Every Student Succeeds Act already accomplished that. The law ensures federal authorities have no control over what education standards states choose to use – Common Core or otherwise. Here is where Sen. Cruz gets it wrong:

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Midweek Update from under the Capitol Dome | West Virginia Metro News
A bill to replace West Virginia’s current education standards, which, despite being updated by the State Board of Education last year, some lawmakers say still too closely resemble the Common Core, stalled in the House Education Committee. Opponents who argue further changes need to be made are struggling to find support for HB 4014 that would revert back to pre-Common Core standards next year, while an entirely new set of standards are developed.

Common Core Critics See Opportunity to Change State Regents Board | WNYC New York Radio
Earlier this month New York Board of Regents member Charles Bendit announced he will step down, leaving the Democrat-led Assembly to fill three vacancies on the Board. The group New York State Allies for Public Education, which is critical of Common Core State Standards, is rallying behind 15 candidates who support its views, the article reports. The Board of Regents is also expected to vote on new leadership to replace outgoing Chancellor Merryl Tisch and Vice Chancellor Anthony Bottar in March. “Whether the next step is evolutionary or revolutionary is a very open question,” says James Tallon, a member of the Board of Regents.