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PARCC and Smarter Balanced Assessments Are a Major Step Forward in Accessibility for Students with Disabilities, English Language Learners, New CAP Report Finds | Center for American Progress
According to a new report from the Center for American Progress, “new assessments aligned to college- and career-ready standards represent a major step forward in accessibility and accommodation features for students with disabilities and English language learner, or ELL, students.” Honest assessments are one of the strongest resources parents and teachers have to measure student development and to identify and address learning needs. Last year, 12 national civil and human rights groups urged policymakers to oppose efforts that would undermine these high-quality tests. Likewise, Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League, wrote, “Common Core Standards will help bridge the achievement gap by leveling the playing field so that all students, regardless of race, geography or income, have an equal shot at gaining the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed.” Rigorous and comparable education standards, paired with high-quality assessments, are the best way to ensure that all students, regardless of their background, are prepared for college and careers.

How academic standards empower teachers | The Courier-Journal
Kentucky teacher Sarah Yost outlines how high academic standards empower teachers to best help their students, stating: “What I realize now about Kentucky’s Academic Standards is that the standards capture the wisdom of experienced teachers and help focus all teachers on what is essential for all students to know how to do before they leave our classrooms. Not that they dictate everything we will teach them, but they help us narrow in on what students need to learn how to do before moving on to the next grade.” Contrary to the misperception that Common Core State Standards constrict creativity and flexibility in classrooms, they provide teachers autonomy by setting high learning goals and giving states, districts, and educators control over how best to achieve them. As two New York educators wrote last year, Common Core State Standards empower “greater collaboration” among teachers and students, and allow educators to share best practices to unlock students’ full potential. That’s one reason why teachers remain strongly supportive of the Common Core. In fact, a 2014 Scholastic study found more than 80 percent of teachers who worked closely with the standards were enthusiastic about implementation.

House changes teaching standards bill ahead of Friday vote | West Virginia MetroNews
As noted by Jeff Jenkins, the West Virginia House of Delegates “will vote Friday on the bill that would keep the new College and Career Readiness Standards in place for at least one year in West Virginia’s public schools.” Following a three hour debate on Thursday, the House made several modifications to HB4014, including a “provision that would have the new standards evaluated by an appointed panel which would then make recommendations to the state Board of Education.” Effectively, the bill would impose the will of the politically charged panel upon the State Board of Education, forcing them to adopt the recommendations, which is likely a violation of the West Virginia State Constitution. Several of the delegates with education backgrounds, including former school principal Dave Perry and math teacher George Ambler argued against replacing the standards, saying: “We have the standards. We have them in place. Teachers want to teach and teachers are now educated to teach these.” A white paper by the Collaborative for Student Success notes lawmakers should consider Oklahoma’s example, which has set schools on a path of “disruption, uncertainty and internal turmoil” by choosing to replace its Common Core State Standards.

Correcting the Record:

The New SAT: Common Core Sealant | Somewhat Reasonable
In a recent blog for Somewhat Reasonable, Robert Holland argues that Common Core-aligned assessments are “in the midst of a death spiral.” He goes on to state that money was spent to “increase public acceptance of the standards after their hasty, stealthy adoption by state boards of education, many of which were too busy lusting after federal Race to the Top grants tied to the standards to evaluate quality.”  Here’s where he got it wrong:

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Connecticut education officials curb time spent on testing | Associated Press
Connecticut education officials announced yesterday that time spent on Common Core-aligned assessments would be reduced by up to an hour and 45 minutes by no longer giving students a portion of the SBAC exam involving a performance task. Governor Malloy and Education Commissioner Wentzell said “the elimination of a redundant section of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium exam reflects broader efforts to help districts spend less time on testing.”