News You Can Use:

PARCC Is a Test Worth Taking
Illinois State Journal Register
Pam Reilly, a teacher in Illinois, writes that her work in research conducted by the National Network of State Teachers of the Year found PARCC and Smarter Balanced assessments “outperformed states’ old tests in several ways.” “As a result, the data from these assessments will start to inform better instruction as test scores become available to teachers earlier.” In a memo last fall, Karen Nussle explains, “States are finally measuring to levels that reflect what students need to know and be able to do in college or a career…For parents and educators, that should come as welcome change.”

Common Core Essential for Families of Vets, Active Forces
Huffington Post
Rigorous, consistent education standards are especially important for military families, whose mobility “can be a recipe for failure for our children,” write Colonel David Sutherland and Jim Cowen. “This is why our two organizations support Common Core. Teaching students to these robust K-12 education standards—and assessing their progress—ensure that the children of our current service members and our veterans receive a high-quality education, no matter where they are.” A Stimson Center report last year found states should make access to consistently high-quality education a priority in order to retain military installations in their communities.

Shakespeare Aside, Evidence Doesn’t Match Christie’s Claim He Ended Common Core
NJ Spotlight
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s claim during the last Republican debate that New Jersey eliminated Common Core State Standards “might seem curious to those reading the actual advisory panel’s recommendations released last week,” John Mooney reports. “Of the more than 200 recommendations, a vast majority seem to focus more on wording than on meaning…Whether this amounts to a rewriting—let along elimination —of the Common Core appears dubious, at best.” In a memo last spring, Karen Nussle explains, “It is virtually impossible to produce a set of K-12 academic standards that both bear no resemblance to Common Core, and adequately prepare students for college and career.”

Classroom Disruption
West Virginia Gazette
Calls to further change West Virginia’s academic standards risk disrupting classroom learning and create uncertainty for educators and students, the editorial board writes. “West Virginia educators worked with their counterparts in other states for years to develop these standards…Because they are largely aligned with what those other states are doing, comparisons among those states will be valid…Early results in West Virginia are promising, too, if students and teachers don’t have any further disruptions.” Mike Petrilli, president of the Fordham Institute, explains it is “impossible to draft standards that prepare students for college and career readiness and that look nothing like Common Core” because the standards “incorporate the current evidence of what students need to know and do.”

Correcting the Record:

Expert: No Easy Exit from Common Core
One News Now
Peter Wood, president of the National Association of Scholars, says that even though states might replace Common Core State Standards, “we will be living with the stubborn and hard-to-replace pieces of it for, I’d say, at least a decade.” Wood goes further to argue a “generation of students” have been lost to instruction that slows down the progression of learning. However, experts point out that Common Core State Standards mark a big improvement over most states’ previous standards and better ensure more students will graduate high school prepared for college and careers. Here is where Wood gets it wrong:

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Arizona Schools Chief Set to Address Legislature
Associated Press
Arizona State Superintendent Diane Douglas will address the State House education committee today about the state of education. Douglas is expected to tout the State Board of Education’s decision in October to revise Arizona’s Common Core Standards, which are currently being reviewed. The speech comes a year after Douglas called on the Legislature to get replace Smarter Balanced assessments, though the test went ahead as planned.

Every Student Succeeds Act Poses Capacity Challenges for State Education Agencies
Education Week
Under the newly minted Every Student Succeeds Act, state education departments will be charged with more hands-on work in policy areas, which could stretch them thin following budget cuts and staff reductions during the recession. Now, state education departments are looking to shift their roles from being primarily compliance officers to taking greater initiative on innovation, while at the same time providing technical and strategic support, the article reports.

Legislators, Teachers Union Back Limits on Testing
Maryland Reporter
The Maryland teachers union and supporters in the state legislature are supporting a series of measures to reduce standardized testing. The announcement on the package of testing bills came from the offices of House Speaker Michael Busch and Senate President Mike Miller. State Delegate Eric Ebersole, a member of the commission that introduced the bills, says they will include a ban on the use of test results in teacher evaluations. Another bill will require that parents be notified of tests their children take and how they are administered.

Jeb Gets Education Right
American Enterprise Institute
This week, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush released his education plan, which Rick Hess calls “first rate.” “Choice, innovation and transparency have transformed practically every part of our lives, and yet our schools remain artifacts of another century,” the plan states. There is no mention of Common Core State Standards, though it does call for students to be college- and career-ready. “Empowering individuals doesn’t require additional money or programs designed by Washington. What we need is a national focus on fueling innovation and providing quality choices for every student in this country.”