News You Can Use:

An Award-Winning Teacher Explains Why PARCC, Smarter Balanced Are the Kinds of Tests Students Should Take
Hechinger Report
Josh Parker, a Maryland educator and 2012 State Teacher of the Year, writes that student assessments aligned to high standards “are of higher quality” and “better measure student understanding” than the tests they replaced. Similar to a recent memo from Karen Nussle, which points out states are finally providing parents and teachers with accurate information, Parker adds: “To go back on these efforts would do a disservice for our students and reinforce [a dishonest] environment.”

Every Student Deserves This: My Visit to Betsy Lane High
Following a visit to schools in Kentucky, many of which have achieved significant improvements following early adoption of Common Core State Standards, Melinda Gates writes: “If we accept the premise that some schools will prepare their students to succeed in college and career and others simply won’t, then we are essentially telling some children that their lives and their dreams are worth less than other kids’. That’s not something Bill and I are willing to accept. It’s not something anyone should.” Karen Nussle explains state leaders have a decision: “They can hold the course and continue to support higher expectations in our classrooms for all students that set them up for success, or they can go the way of Oklahoma and go backwards.”

Confusing, Inaccurate and Lazy Report on Common Core Math
Raleigh News & Observer
Jere Confrey and Ron Preston, higher education leaders in North Carolina, applaud the Academic Standards Review Commission’s decision to keep in place the state’s Common Core Standards. Contrary to the Commission’s math working group report, teachers strongly support the math standards; nearly 70 percent of K-8 teachers say the standards do not limit their flexibility and 96 percent of the standards had an approval rating of 80 to 100 percent. “There is little evidence to suggest that N.C. should abandon its commitment to implementing its standards for mathematics,” Confrey and Preston conclude. An analysis by the Collaborative for Student Success explains, “Math education today is designed to help all children, regardless of their background, develop a stronger understanding of math.”

Back Off Parents: It’s Not Your Job to Teach Common Core Math When Helping with Homework
Hechinger Report
Changes to instruction happening as schools implement Common Core State Standards has caused confusion for many parents, but “before you throw up your hands and walk away” parents should work with educators to understand the changes, writes Kathleen Lucadamo. “The one thing we can reinforce as parents is that it’s ok for children to struggle. This is hard work. It takes time and patience,” says Bibb Hubbard, founder of Learning Heroes. In a recent blog, Jim Cowen explains: “To many of us who learned multiplication through rote memorization only, the Common Core’s emphasis on understanding the why behind math is unusual, if not altogether foreign…The Common Core aims to ensure that our children have a solid understanding of these basics, so that they’re better prepared to conquer math in the future.”

Correcting the Record:

Ted Cruz Campaign Rolls out ‘Homeschoolers for Cruz’ Coalition
Breitbart News
In a new campaign video, Senator Ted Cruz claims Common Core State Standards are a tool of the federal government to control education. “Some on the left want to shut down those who don’t abide by the Common Core agenda,” Sen. Cruz says. “I will direct the U.S. Department of Education that Common Core ends today. Instead I will restore power back to the states and to the local governments and ultimately back to parents.” Sen. Cruz’ allegations ignore the facts—that Common Core State Standards were developed by state leaders, they were voluntarily adopted by states and states continue to lead implementation efforts. Here is where Sen. Cruz gets it wrong:

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He’s Acting, but the Nation’s New Education Secretary Is for Real
Washington Post
Some Congressional lawmakers say Acting Education Secretary John King should go through a confirmation process to ensure accountability as the Education Department crafts regulations to implement the recently passed Every Student Succeeds Act. “For proper accountability, especially as we work with the administration on implementing the new law governing elementary and secondary education, it is important to have in charge of the department a member of the president’s Cabinet confirmed by the U.S. Senate,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander, chairman of the Senate Education Committee. President Obama will likely not submit King’s name for confirmation prior to the end of his administration.

ISTEP Results Show Pass Rates Down 20 Percentage Points
Indianapolis Star
Results released Monday from Indiana’s state tests show about two-thirds of students met or exceeded proficiency benchmarks in English language arts, as did 61 percent of students in math. About 54 percent of Hoosier students passed both portions of the tests, down from nearly 75 percent on former tests. “Those results will have little to no effect on teachers and schools,” the article reports. Republican leaders introduced legislation that would prohibit the scores from being used in teacher evaluations and school accountability grades. That bill is expected to move quickly through the legislature and has the support of Governor Mike Pence and State Superintendent Glenda Ritz.

Gov.-Elect Unveils Three Appointments to BESE
New Orleans Advocate
Louisiana Governor-elect John Bel Edwards named three appointments to the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education on Tuesday: Doris Voitier, Thomas Roque and Lurie Thomason Jr. The individuals will join an 11-member panel that has and will continue to play an important role in determining the state’s use of Common Core Standards.