News You Can Use:

Media Matters, “Fox News’ Chris Wallace Debunks Carly Fiorina’s Claim that Common Core Standards Are ‘Nationally Driven’”: In a Fox News Sunday interview with Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina, host Chris Wallace responds to Fiorina’s claim that, “Common Core has become a nationally-driven set of bureaucratic standards.” Noting the United States ranks 30th in math literacy and 20th in reading literacy, Wallace states, “Here are the facts, Ms. Fiorina: Common Core Standards don’t come from the Department of Education, they come from the state governors and state school officers, and local school districts design the curriculum to meet those standards. In fact, the federal government is barred by law from setting curriculum – developing curriculum in local school districts.” The full video is available here.

What It Means: Wallace stands up to the popular criticism that the Common Core has become federally driven. As he points out, Common Core Standards were developed at the state level and voluntarily adopted by states. After five years and two national elections, all but one of the 45 states to initially adopt the standards continue to use them, or some similar version. States continue to lead efforts to implement the standards, and at least a dozen legislatures, many in the most conservative-leaning states in the country, have voted down bills seeking to repeal the Common Core this year.

CIncinnati Enquirer, “Reduce Common Core Tests, Don’t Ditch Them”: Recent announcements that PARCC will reduce testing times and administer only one set of tests per year is a “good start,” but Ohio should go further to pare back state and local tests which do not measure to the Common Core, the editorial board writes. Noting incremental steps to reduce testing make more sense than the “burn-it-down approach approved recently by House lawmakers,” the piece says, “Test fatigue doesn’t merit foolhardy rejection of the PARCC tests.” “The Common Core Standards remain essential to ensure Ohio students graduate prepared to compete with their peers elsewhere in the United States and internationally. It’s critical that the state get a clear idea of how well its new standards are being taught…But the last thing Ohio needs is another year of testing chaos driven by frustration. Instead, let’s improve what we have.”

What It Means: High-quality assessments are one of the most important tools to give teachers and parents an accurate measure of student development. Tests that hold students to the high learning goals set by the Common Core, like PARCC and Smarter Balanced, provide more useful metrics to help ensure students are on a path that prepares them for college or a career – and that helps them get back on track if they’re not. As the editorial board emphasizes, states like Ohio should consider ways to address concerns of over-testing, but getting rid of PARCC assessments would do a disservice to students and teachers.


Correcting the Record:

Education Week, “States Should Ditch ‘Cut Scores’ on New Tests”: Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, writes that as states prepare for the results of new assessments, “States should ditch the use of cut scores with their simplistic picture of performance.” “Public outcry may get much worse once results from the full administration of the new Common Core State Standards tests are released later this year,” Weingarten says. “Instead of putting so much emphasis on one test – which is like a snapshot of a moment in time – a more informative measure would be to look at student growth over time – like time-lapse photography.” Noting that fewer students are expected to meet proficiency benchmarks under the tougher tests, Weingarten says cut-scores are “not designed to measure whether a student is on grade level, and they’re certainly not predictors of any individual student’s success.” “The point of setting higher standards is to help students achieve them over time, not rush to premature judgment…Let’s move toward a more thoughtful approach that puts testing in its rightful place – and returns spring to a season of growth, not failure.”

Where They Went Wrong: As Achieve’s Honesty Gap analysis shows, many states haven’t been honest about the progress their students are making, leaving many unprepared for college or a career. New high-quality assessments that support the high standards laid out by Common Core are designed to give teachers and parents an accurate measure of student development. While it’s a dose of tough medicine, these exams will give families a more accurate accounting of whether their child is on track to graduate fully prepared for life after high school. States must determine policies about how to hold schools accountable, as they are doing, but softening cut-scores, as Weingarten suggests, would only reinforce the same broken system that has left too many students unprepared for higher levels of learning.


On Our Reading List:

Cincinnati Enquirer, “John Kasich Plans Trip to Iowa”: Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a strong advocate for the Common Core, will travel to Iowa on June 24. It will be the likely presidential candidate’s first trip to the First Caucus State as part of his nascent nomination bid. The article reports Gov. Kasich’s support for the Common Core isn’t likely to repeal to the state’s conservative base, but polling indicates support for the standards is not likely to affect most voters. An NBC News/Marist poll this year found 57 percent of Republican voters did not consider the Common Core to be a disqualifying issue. A Des Moines Register study reached a similar conclusion: “Common Core education standards are a hot potato for some conservative activists in Iowa. But they’re seen as a good thing by the majority of Iowa adults,” Jennifer Jacobs wrote.

PBS Newshour, “What Does Lindsey Graham Believe? Where the Candidate Stands”: On Monday U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) announced that he will seek the Republican presidential nomination. Sen. Graham has called for the repeal of Common Core, calling it a federal takeover of education policy. He co-sponsored a Senate resolution suggesting the Obama Administration used federal funds to coerce states into adopting the Standards.