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Common Core Supporters Win Key Victory with Massachusetts Supreme Court Ruling | Boston Globe
The Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled today that the state Attorney General’s certification of a ballot initiative to repeal the state’s Common Core Standards is not valid. The court ruled that the question touches on two separate public policy issues, and thus runs afoul of rules for statewide referendums, which must address a single concept. “The decision will not only save teachers and students from unnecessary upheaval, but also means cities and towns will not incur the significant costs that the ballot proposal would have created,” said William Walczak, chairman of the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education. “Massachusetts adopted the Common Core in 2010 because the standards offer more consistency between districts and other states and set a high bar for students,” an analysis by the Collaborative for Student Success explained previously. “In the nearly six years since, Common Core State Standards have empowered Massachusetts to continue its role as a leader in education.” To turn back on that work would do a huge disservice to students and teachers.

Did Georgia Make a Huge Mistake Turning to Homegrown Tests? | The Bryan Crabtree Show
High-quality student assessments, like PARCC and Smarter Balanced, provide a good indicator of students’ development towards college and career readiness, explains Jim Cowen. Unlike old “bubble tests,” the consortia exams align closely with classroom instruction, alleviating pressures to teach to the test. States that have gone their own way with assessments to appease critics, on the other hand, risk incurring significant costs only to produce weaker tests. “Beyond the costs, time constraints and technical challenges… states that have struck out on their own have also jeopardized their ability to compare their progress to other states—and may very well come out with an inferior assessment in the process,” Cowen wrote recently.

Salem Schools Are on the Rise | Salem News
Having implemented rigorous academic expectations and high-quality assessments, Salem schools “are on the rise,” writes Margarita Ruiz, district superintendent. “We adopted PARCC and are implementing instructional reform across the district to add rigor and consistency,” Ruiz explains. “We are seeing positive results through the implementation of coaches, teacher leaders, and the realignment of our professional development.” The piece points to the fact that with proper teacher support, high standards and high-quality assessments are helping improve student outcomes. “Parents should resist the siren song of those who want to use this moment of truth to attack the Common Core or associated tests,” Mike Petrilli wrote last fall.

English Teacher’s Hip-Hop Curriculum Gets Students Writing | Education Week
Lauren Leigh Kelly, a high school English teacher in New York and adjunct instructor at Columbia University, has incorporated hip-hop culture into her literacy curriculum to help students connect instruction to their backgrounds and to foster their interests in writing. “The [Common Core State Standards] provide a huge amount of autonomy and flexibility in terms of the content that students are reading, and I see that as a good entry point to insert relevant and engaging texts and content,” explains Emily Chiariello, an education consultant. Previously 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.”



Correcting the Record:

Are Modern Standards Breeding a Decline in Cultural Literacy? | Education Dive
Students are graduating high school underprepared in cultural literacy, some experts argue, which critics attribute to the Common Core. Opponents suggest the standards’ call for more non-fiction texts has been muddled to include “text-free or text-light” sources, like podcasts and tweets. “If ‘informational’ means Wikipedia, op-eds and blog posts, then we are in big trouble,” says Mark Bauerlin, a professor at Emory University. “I see more and more students coming into college having not read very much and not knowing very much.” The article points to a recent ACT survey as evidence more students are entering college unprepared. However, Common Core State Standards do not exclude literature, as the article suggests. The standards put a greater emphasis on non-fiction texts spread across all subjects to help students build strong literacy skills. Here is where the argument that Common Core kills cultural literacy gets it wrong:



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A New Argument for More Diverse Classrooms | The Atlantic
Speaking before the National PTA today, U.S. Education Secretary John King is expected to call on parents and teachers to create diverse schools where students of all socioeconomic and racial backgrounds have access to a quality education. “We have this emerging body of research around the importance of diversity for the success of organizations, and businesses,” King said. “There’s a case to be made that diversity is not just about trying to expand opportunities for low-income students, but really about our values as a country and to improve education outcomes for all students.” The Every Student Succeeds Act, King is expected to say, offers schools an opportunity to promote diversity not only in schools, but in individual classes.