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Testing Better Together | US News & World Report
States using PARCC and Smarter Balanced assessments are seeing fewer technical problems and lower costs compared to those that adopted independent exams, writes Scott Sargrad of the Center for American Progress. Only one consortia state (New Jersey) experienced technical problems, while those that have gone it alone are seeing “more and more problems crop up.” “Even more importantly, PARCC and Smarter Balanced are just better tests than what states had before, and are likely better than what states going it alone are developing,” Sargrad adds. In several recent studies, PARCC and Smarter Balanced received high marks for accurately measuring student readiness and aligning closely with classroom instruction. “These new assessments are the kind we should want our kids to take,” wrote Pam Reilly, former Illinois State Teacher of the Year.

What’s So Hard about Telling Me How My Kid Is Doing in School? | Education Post
For too long, school systems have conspired to deny parents an answer to how their children are doing, writes Education Post’s Chris Stewart. “Often when assessment results or information about student progress came home it looked like a NASA project… Worse yet, parents often hear that their kids are doing fine only to end up with a kid later who is seriously behind in student achievement.” All parents deserve “simple, smart, and usable information.” Most states have begun to provide parents and teachers with accurate information by implementing rigorous standards and high-quality assessments, and tools like the Testing Bill of Rights offer constructive ways for families to help their schools move towards honest systems of accountability.

Fears Over Common Core Were Unfounded, Officials Say | Grand Lake Daily Standard
Officials in Mercer County, Ohio say misconceptions about the Common Core—that they would usurp local control, lead to mediocrity, and subject students to political and religious ideology—are unfounded. Common Core is “not a curriculum,” says Shelly Vaughn, a local superintendent. “It’s a set of standards, it’s the road map… Teachers have a lot of autonomy in the classroom to use the resources around them to plan instruction.” Last year, 21 State Teachers of the Year defended the Common Core against those kinds of allegations, writing, “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… The standards preserve and strengthen local control.”


Correcting the Record:

The Origami Algorithm and C3 (Common Core Confusion) | Huffington Post
When it comes to the Common Core, “You are not supposed to think. You are not supposed to imagine, estimate, or consider options. You are to follow instructions and solve problems in the right order,” claims Alan Singer, a social studies instructor at Hofstra University. “Common Core math, for better or worse, is no longer about calculations; it is about reading… Passing the math test means memorizing specific the vocabulary.” Contrary to Singer’s suggestion that the Common Core limits problem solving approaches, the standards encourage students to use multiple methods to help build strong foundational skills. Here is where Singer gets it wrong:


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ACT Aspire Results: On Test, 68% of Arkansas Students Hit Mark in English | Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
On Friday, the Arkansas Department of Education released results from the ACT Aspire assessment. Sixty-eight percent of students in grades 3-10 met or exceeded proficiency benchmarks in English language arts, as did 43 percent of students in math. On the writing portion, 30 percent of students scored at or above proficiency. “While these results are only one indicator of performance, they do show that we must continue to work together to meet educational excellence,” said Education Commissioner Johnny Key. Arkansas replaced the PARCC assessment with ACT Aspire this year.

Scope of Changes from Missouri Learning Standards Still Unknown | Maryville Daily Forum
Missouri educators are still working through the details of the state’s decision to replace the Common Core. The new learning goals align closely with the Common Core in some areas, but “this turnaround has given us whiplash,” explains teacher Terri Jermain. “It takes at least a good five years’ worth of data to find out what you need to do, and we’re not doing that.” “You kind of have to ease into it and look for your crossovers,” adds Jermain. “Nobody is going to just pull the rug out from what we’ve been doing and totally change everything in one year.”

Tennessee Department of Education in Process of Reviewing K-12 Education Standards | Johnson City Press
Tennessee education officials are reviewing the state’s education standards, which the state requires every six years. The State Board of Education has already received the final draft of the math and English language arts standards. Tennessee’s social studies and science standards are still in review. State officials will “go through… standard by standard and make any revisions based on their own expertise or trends that they see in the public feedback,” says Laura Encalade, the Board of Education’s director of policy and research. “They’ll work on that for a period of a couple of months and what comes out of that phase is a proposed draft of standards.”