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How the Common Core Re-Mapped the Way I Teach Writing / Education Week
Drawing comparisons to improved highway systems, James Dittes, a high school English teacher, says with the Common Core he is teaching at higher level, “bypassing unhelpful detours and helping students further along the route to their goals than ever before.” “Now, students are demonstrating knowledge in far deeper ways…[which] also has led to a richer, more vivid understanding of students’ abilities and needs… Students are learning more—they progress faster and with more certainty.” Like Dittes, 21 State Teachers of the Year explain, “Under the Common Core, teachers have greater flexibility to design their classroom lessons—and can, for the first time, take advantage of the best practices from great teachers in other states.”

State Court Sides with South Dakota in Common Core Case / Sioux City Journal
A circuit court judge ruled that South Dakota’s participation in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium does not violate state or federal laws. The decision comes on the heels of rejections of similar claims in other states. In Louisiana, a judge ruled against former Gov. Bobby Jindal’s efforts to impede implementation of the Common Core through the courts, noting such efforts did “irreparable harm” to students. The South Dakota ruling specifically rejected the argument the state was coerced into adopting Common Core State Standards. “The issue of honest standards of learning for our children is too important to be buried in an avalanche of misinformation and demonization,” former Education Secretary Bill Bennett wrote last year.


Correcting the Record:

Exposing the Common Core Fraud / Town Hall
The Common Core’s promise of higher standards, Phyllis Schlafly argues, does not mean higher intellectual content of academic expectations, but “a higher percentage of students passing them.” “The easiest way to get more students to pass a test is to make the standards (or the passing score) lower, not higher…Far from closing the gap, Common Core makes the achievement gap even worse.” However, evidence shows the Common Core is raising classroom expectations. Here is where Schlafly gets it wrong:

Common Core State Standards Are Raising Classroom Expectations

In a piece published by Town Hall, Phyllis Schlafly argues the Common Core’s promise of higher standards does not mean more rigorous intellectual content, but a “higher percentage of students passing them.”

“The easiest way to get more students to pass a test is to make the standards (or the passing score) lower, not higher…Far from closing the gap, Common Core makes the achievement gap even worse,” Schlafly claims.

However, evidence from states overwhelmingly shows Common Core State Standards are raising classroom expectations. An analysis by Achieve this year found most states significantly closed their “Honesty Gaps”—the discrepancies between self-reported proficiency rates and those identified by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).

Similarly, a Harvard University study concludes states have made “the largest jump in state standards” over the past two years since they were established as part of federal accountability programs. “In short, the Common Core consortium has achieved one of its key policy objectives: the raising of state proficiency standards throughout much of the United States,” the study notes.

“[States] should really be commended for starting to be more transparent with parents and educators about how their kids are doing,” explains Sandra Boyd, chief operating officer for Achieve. “It really is the first step in improving outcomes.”

State leaders do have a responsibility to set proficiency benchmarks appropriately high. “By expanding the definition of proficiency to include students that are less-than-proficient,” states risk walking back efforts to provide parents and teachers with accurate information, Karen Nussle wrote last year. “Parents deserve an honest assessment of student proficiency.”


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New Community Superintendents at Military Schools in Europe / Stars and Stripes
The Department of Defense Education Activity announced Monday it will hire eight community superintendents to assist district superintendents in charge of military schools in Europe. The community superintendents will provide guidance to staff and lead professional development, among other duties. The organizational changes “will support school operations across the spectrum, not just with college and career readiness implementation,” a spokesperson said. Four of the positions have already been filled.