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The Politics of the Common Core Assessments | Education Next
Despite attacks from opponents, “most states stood firm in embracing” the Common Core. Unfortunately, several abandoned consortia assessments specifically aligned to the standards. The Education Next article attributes the moves to frustrations about over-testing, which were conflated with the exams. The assessments also became politically charged by teachers unions, who worried about tying results to evaluations, which was further complicated by insufficient professional development. Out of that climate, policymakers supportive of the Common Core sought to appease critics by sacrificing assessments, and those states are quickly learning the consequences of going it alone, which carry significant costs and may produce weaker assessments, Jim Cowen wrote recently. Still, “the consortia may also emerge stronger as a result of surviving the conflict that has surrounded them,” the Education Next article concludes.

Not If We Don’t Change the Way We Teach | Educators for High Standards
Prior to Common Core State Standards, teachers “were ultimately saddled to the Math and Reading programs that our district expected us to use,” writes Dayna Burke, a first-grade teacher in Arizona. Implementation of the Common Core “meant more than just checking them off one by one.” It called for instructional changes that emphasize the way teachers teach as well as what they teach. As a result, educators began to share materials and best practices, working together to unlock students’ potential. “We’d constantly refer back to the standard, using it as an anchor for… what mastery looks like and how we’d get our students there.” Burke challenges teachers to rethink their instruction and how they can use the Common Core to better meet student needs. “Higher standards… provide an incredible opportunity to prepare our students for rigorous college experiences and fulfilling careers. But not if we don’t change the way we teach.”


Correcting the Record:

Schools with High Common Core Opt-Outs Could Face Low Ratings | Newsday
States using the Common Core may be subject to federal regulations because of high opt-out rates, the article indicates, which has created backlash from teachers unions and others who say the results may be unfairly used in teacher and school evaluations. “It is bizarre when you think about it, that a school would be punished for decisions taken by parents, which is their right to do,” argues Carol Burris. “Federal overreach should be stopped in its tracks,” adds Michael Hynes, a local superintendent. “To put so much weight into a score doesn’t make any sense.” However, contrary to the article’s suggestion, the federal requirements affect all states—not just those using Common Core State Standards. Moreover, lower school ratings are only one possible outcome, and states can intervene to avoid such consequences. Here is where the article gets it wrong:


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SAT Will Replace PARCC Exam in Illinois High Schools | Illinois State Journal-Recorder
On Monday, the Illinois Board of Education announced that the SAT will replace PARCC assessments as the high school accountability exam. Students in grades 3-8 will continue to take PARCC. “The SAT is aligned with the Illinois Learning Standards and will continue to empower educators to measure college and career readiness,” a spokesperson for the Department said. Because the SAT counts as a college-entrance exam, it carries more weight with students, one superintendent explained. “This is a good first step in getting things streamlined a little bit.”