News You Can Use:

USA Today, “How John Kasich Could Win in 2016”: Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who is expected to announce on Tuesday his decision to seek the Republican presidential nomination, could “outshine presumed” party frontrunners and “even pose a threat to Hillary Clinton” because his “experience, candor and moderate views are winning him a growing number of fans.” Gov. Kasich has not backed away from his support for Common Core State Standards. “You have to look at the totality of the candidate on all the issues and whether they hold to their belief,” says Robb Thomson, a Republican activist in New Hampshire. “I don’t think Governor Kasich does a lot of pandering.” “I think he’s electable,” adds Dick Wright, a South Carolina Navy veteran. Gov. Kasich explains it’s about articulating his positions. “I’ve never met anybody who I didn’t think I could get to vote for me if I could talk to them.”

What It Means:Contrary to opponents’ claims that support for the Common Core would be a disqualifier for conservatives, candidates who are able to articulate the value of high education standards and increased accountability are able to use the issue to their advantage. While Common Core State Standards have been a rallying cry for some on the extremes, voters in early states have expressed much more moderate views. That’s because the public fundamentally supports academic expectations that fully prepare students for college and career readiness, regardless of what label is put on them. And as Karen Nussle wrote, it is impossible to draft education standards that achieve that purpose and look nothing like the Common Core.

Modesto Bee, “Common Core Test Results Due Next Month: ‘It’s Not Going to Be Pretty’”: Previewing upcoming test results from new Common Core-aligned assessments, columnist Nan Austin says, “The new scores have no relation to scores under the old testing system…Kids are tested in a fundamentally different way, on different standards, meant to be taught differently…To understand the change from a kid’s point of view, consider that passing the old multiple-choice tests meant simply knowing the fact being asked…The new way of teaching has some memorization, such as multiplication tables, but as much as possible gives kids practical problems and asks them to figure them out together. That takes a far different set of skills, much more like what someone needs in a supervisor’s post than a factory line job.” “We must not back down if initial results are low,” says a group of higher education leaders in a statement. “The new standards and assessments are anchored in what it takes to succeed in college and careers. We owe it to our students to maintain these higher expectations.”

What It Means:The column makes clear that results from new assessments will provide parents and educators with a more honest evaluation of student development and that continued implementation is a necessary step to ensure that students are held to levels that prepare them for college and career readiness. As one California teacher states in the comments section, “Scrapping [the standards and assessments] is the worst thing we can possibly do. We are expecting students to actually learn and understand [content] in a more deep and meaningful way.” A Teach Plus study this year found that almost 80 percent of teacher participants believe new assessments designed to support the Common Core are better than those their states used before, and a Scholastic study found more than two-thirds of teachers who worked closely with the standards saw an improvement in students’ critical thinking and reasoning skills.


Correcting the Record:

Politico, “GOP Candidates Join Testing Opt-Out Movement”: Several Republican presidential candidates have joined the calls to have parents opt their children out of school assessments, pitting them on the same side of the issue as teachers unions and some Democrats. Sens. Rand Paul and Ted Cruz concentrated on the issue last week during debate of the No Child Left Behind reauthorization debates, offering amendments to “ensure the government keeps its hands off of students’ opt-out rights.” Sen. Paul said the Senate bill has “a lack of adequate parental choice, a federal testing mandate and continued support for Common Core.” “At the end of the day, this bill still mandates testing requirements,” Sen. Cruz said. The article notes none of the incumbent Senators running for president have a strong record on education issues. “None of the senators have much in the way of a record,” says Fordham Institute President Mike Petrilli. “That’s the nature of the Senate these days.”

Where They Went Wrong: High-quality student assessments provide parents and teachers with one of the strongest tools to measure how well their children are actually learning the skills and knowledge to succeed at higher levels of learning and to identify and address learning needs. New assessments designed to hold students to higher academic expectations provide a more accurate measure of readiness, and because they require students explain their reasoning, they mitigate pressures to teach to the test. A Teach Plus study found that 79 percent of teacher respondents believe new assessments like PARCC are better than those their states used before. Opt-out efforts undermine the effectiveness of assessments and impede schools from providing honest evaluations of how well students are really doing.


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UPI, “Senate Passes No Child Left Behind Overhaul, Shrinks Federal Role in Education”: The Senate passed bipartisan legislation to revamp the No Child Left Behind Act on Friday. The bill aims to shrink the federal government’s role in K-12 education policy while largely keeping intact annual federal testing requirements. The legislation passed 81-17, a week after the House narrowly passed its own bill. The two bills must be reconciled before they can be sent to the President’s desk for a final decision.