News You Can Use:

High-Quality Tests Are Key to Teaching and Learning | Reno Gazette-Journal
Nevada’s Smarter Balanced assessments provide educators and schools an accurate measure of student learning, which supports growth, writes Ben Dickson, an assistant principal in Reno, NV. “As teachers, we’re looking forward to receiving valuable information about how much our students learned last year to help us decide exactly how we can improve our instruction.” Noting that only one percent of classroom time was spent on testing, Dickson adds, “High-quality tests – like Smarter Balanced – are an important piece to the intricate puzzle that makes up teaching and learning.” Several studies confirm Smarter Balanced and PARCC assessments outperform those states used before, as well as other next-generation exams.

Five Crazy Myths About Common Core | Buzzfeed
Opponents have made a ton of wild claims and accusation about Common Core State Standards. A new Buzzfeed list provides some of the most outrageous, including: the Common Core promotes Islamic extremism; the standards lead to the “sexualization” of children; Common Core promotes “leftist ideologies”; it’s a “one-size-fits-all” national curriculum; and the standards are “dumbing down” America’s students. Last year, former Education Secretary Bill Bennett wrote that such claims drown out constructive debate about education policy. “It is time for integrity and truth in this debate.”

New Resources Designed to Make Common Core-Aligned Tests More Useful | EdSource
The California Board of Education will discuss resources to help parents and teachers understand the results from state assessments, as well as improvements to the public website where the scores will be posted. Last month, California launched a website to give parents detailed information about score reports, which are being mailed this summer. The site provides tools like the Council of Great City Schools’ parents’ guide and Learning Heroes’ Readiness Roadmap. The move reflects states’ efforts to provide families and educators with tools to improve testing, understand results and support their kids.


Correcting the Record:

The Number of States Using PARCC and Smarter Balanced Tests Has Dropped by Half in Five Years | EdSurge
“As support for the Common Core among politicians and educators wanes, the closely aligned PARCC and Smarter Balanced tests have also fallen from favor,” the article claims. “As more states leave, the benefit of interstate comparability decreases.” Even though polling shows strong support for the standards, it “seems like the ends didn’t justify the means for those teaching,” the article contends. The piece omits that the original Education Next report shows that policymakers often sacrificed the consortia exams to appease critics, who had already politicized the issue. Those states are now learning the consequences of going it alone, which include significant costs and likely inferior new tests. Here is where EdSurge gets it wrong:


On Our Reading List:

Nevada Accepts $1.8 Million Settlement over Student Testing Program | Las Vegas Review Journal
On Tuesday, a Nevada panel approved a $1.8 million settlement in favor of the State Department of Education over technical problems that disrupted student testing last year. The settlement with the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium follows a $1.3 million settlement last year with Measured Progress Inc., which administered the test. “My office is committed to ensuring that all vendors hired by the state deliver their promised goods and services,” said Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt. The state’s assessments were completed this year with no major disruptions, as evidenced by the Reno Gazette-Journal piece above.

What Makes a Highly Effective School? New York State Takes Its First Crack at Describing What Will Count | Chalkbeat New York
On Monday, the New York Department of Education released a proposal of 20 principles to guide new school evaluations under the Every Student Succeeds Act, gives states greater latitude to define school success and to build their own accountability systems. The draft indicates that the state is headed towards a model that shifts focus beyond math and English test scores. Changes include proposals that schools be judged in part by what students do after they leave; the state’s accountability system should include non-academic measures; the system will rely on high-quality student assessments; students should have multiple paths to graduation; and a push for equitable funding. The State Department of Education is soliciting public feedback, and the draft proposals are available here.