News You Can Use:

Toledo Blade, “Keep Common Core”: The measure included in the Ohio budget signed into law by Gov. John Kasich banning the use of PARCC tests takes “another step toward dismantling Ohio’s use of the national Common Core education standards,” which state officials “shouldn’t let happen,” the editorial board writes. Noting that the Common Core replaced “less rigorous, outdated standards,” earning the “support of teachers, school administrators, and education reform advocates,” the editorial board says concerns about the standards “have been more asserted than shown.” Opponents of annual assessments “almost certainly will continue to push anti-testing legislation designed to undermine Ohio’s participation in Common Core.” “Participation in the standards doesn’t mean much unless the state has a reliable way to compare students’ outcomes to those in other states… Ohio lawmakers’ continued efforts to chip away at Common Core only undermine these goals.”

What It Means:The editorial board points out that assessments are a “critical – not optional” tool for parents and teachers to measure student development and to compare those results to other states and school districts. High-quality exams like PARCC provide a more accurate measure of student preparedness and give educators the information they need to identify and address student’s individual learning needs. A Teach Plus study found 79 percent of teacher participants believe PARCC exams are better than those their states used before. Ohio policymakers now have a responsibility to develop or choose a new, equally strong system of accountability to ensure students are on a track of college and career readiness.

The Oregonian, “2015 Editorial Agenda Mid-Year Report Card”: Weighing in on the end of the legislative session, the editorial board writes that the passage of House Bill 2655, which makes it easier for parents to opt students out of the state’s Smarter Balanced tests, “suggests that talk of accountability and a focus on raising standards will remain just talk.” “The passage of House Bill 2655 assures that the state is still heading in the wrong direction…The [Smarter Balanced] exam not only tracks whether students are meeting the benchmarks set by the Common Core State Standards, but results show whether low-income or other disadvantaged groups are making the same kind of progress. The test, however, depends on widespread student participation for reliable and representative information.”

What It Means: High-quality assessments like Smarter Balanced provide teachers and parents with a strong tool to measure student development and ensure that states’ Common Core standards achieve their purpose of preparing students for college and career readiness. Opt-out efforts undermine schools’ ability to measure student development and to identify and address learning needs. Smarter Balanced tests provide a more accurate measure of student readiness and because they require students to explain their reasoning, they limit pressures to “teach to the test.”


Correcting the Record:


Daily Caller, “The Country’s Biggest Common Core Test Is Circling the Drain”: In 2011, 24 states and the District of Columbia were signed on to use PARCC assessments, but since then many have withdrawn from the testing consortium, leaving only seven states plus D.C. to use the tests next year, “making the idea of a truly ‘national’ comparison seem hollow.” Noting that states like Arkansas and Ohio have recently chosen to use other assessments, the article says “PARCC is still alive for now, but it seems on the verge of disintegrating.” “While most of the states dumping PARCC have kept Common Core, their rejection of shared interstate tests is still a blow to the ideas underlying it…The reasons for the mass exodus from PARCC are many,” including federal funding, concerns about data collection, rigorous content and computer glitches. The article reports that the Smarter Balanced consortium has fared better, “though it’s also been hit with defections and has struggled with severe test glitches.”

Where They Went Wrong: Student assessments are one of the most important tools for parents and teachers to ensure their children are on a path that prepares them for college and career readiness. High-quality assessments like PARCC and Smarter Balanced provide a more accurate measure of how well students are developing the skills and knowledge they need to succeed at higher levels of learning and they allow parents to compare those results to other states and school districts. While states have full control over what tests to use, those that abandon these consortia limit their ability to compare how well their schools are doing, opening the door to proficiency inflation – a reality made clear by Achieve’s recent Honesty Gap analysis.


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New York Times, “Site Devoted to Education Overhaul Is to Hold Presidential Forums”: The Seventy Four, an education advocacy site launched by former CNN anchor Campbell Brown, announced it will host presidential forums for candidates of both parties. The first forum, for Republicans, will be held in August in New Hampshire. Former Gov. Jeb Bush, Gov. Scott Walker, Gov. Bobby Jindal and Carly Fiorina have all committed to attending. A forum for Democrats will be held in October in Iowa. “[Education is] a critical issue, it’s a critical moment, and we need to know where these candidates stand,” said Brown.

Fox News, “Walker Joining White House Race Monday Amid High Expectations in Already Crowded Field”: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker will announce his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination later today. In the days following the announcement, Gov. Walker will travel to Nevada, Georgia, South Carolina, New Hampshire and Iowa. Gov. Walker’s position on the Common Core has varied. His first state budget called for statewide standards, but this year his budget prohibits the state superintendent from requiring districts to use the Common Core and calls for a new set of assessments.

CBS News, “GOP Urges Update to No Child Left Behind”: Days after a legislative update to NCLB narrowly passed in the House, Republican leaders continued to call for support for the Senate bill. “Not only is there consensus about the need to fix No Child Left Behind, but there’s also remarkable consensus about how to fix it,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander. “That consensus is this: Continue the law’s important measurements of academic progress of students but restore to states, school districts, classroom teachers and parents the responsibility for deciding what to do about improving student achievement.” Unlike the House bill, the legislation in the Senate has broad bipartisan support. Of education standards, Sen. Alexander said, “Whether your state adopts Common Core is entirely your state’s decision.”

Politico, “American Federation of Teachers Endorses Hillary Clinton for President”: On Saturday, the American Federation of Teachers, the union representing 1.6 million educators, announced its support for Hillary Clinton as a presidential candidate. “Clinton is a tested leader who shares our values, is supported by our members and is prepared for a tough fight on behalf of students, families and communities,” AFT President Randi Weingarten said. “I’m honored to have the support of the AFT’s members and leaders, and I’m proud to stand with them to unleash the potential of every American,” Clinton said Saturday. Clinton has said she supports the Common Core, but Forbes Education Columnist Maureen Sullivan says Clinton’s positions on “the seismic education issues of today,” including student assessments, remain largely unclear.