News You Can Use:

Kentucky Department of Education, “Kentucky Core Academic Standards Challenge”: Data from the Kentucky Department of Education indicate that individuals across the state strongly support the state’s Common Core-based education standards. Last year, officials launched an online platform for anyone in the state to review the standards and provide feedback. Eighty-eight percent of respondents gave the standards a “thumbs up” rating and did not indicate any changes were needed. About 12 percent said they would like to see some sort of change in one or more of the standards, with about 71 percent of those saying a standard should be moved to another grad level, 32 percent suggesting a rewrite of the standards and eight percent wanting to see a standard broken into two or more parts. Nearly 4,000 people participated in the online review, about half of whom were teachers and 20 percent were parents. “Our goal is to make Kentucky’s academic standards the best that they can be, so that more students graduate college/career-ready with the knowledge and critical skills they need for success,” said Education Commissioner Terry Holliday.

What It Means: The online review underscores the public commitment to rigorous education standards that fully prepare students for college or a career. Kentucky, the first state to adopt and begin fully teaching to the Common Core, has experienced some of the biggest academic improvements in the country over the past three years. As Karen Nussle wrote recently, parents continue to strongly support high education standards, and it is impossible to draft standards that prepare students for college and career readiness and that do not resemble the Common Core.

Inside Sources, “Why Common Core Won’t Cost Jeb the Nomination”: Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has drawn criticism from other Republican presidential candidates for his support for the Common Core, with opponents saying the standards are a losing issue with conservative voters, but “all the candidates, campaign strategists, and pundits appear to be wrong.” New dial session testing conducted by Maslansky + Partners found Republican voters like what Gov. Bush has to say about the Common Core. “As long as Jeb Bush continues to frame Common Core as about ‘high standards’ it will not cost him the nomination,” says Jenn Dahm, a vice president with Maslansky + Partners. “Almost everyone, Democrat and Republican alike, agrees on the need for higher standards.” One of the statements that won the highest support from Republicans during the dial session was: “[Standards] need to be state-driven. The federal government should play no role in this.” “Whether Bush wins or loses, his support for higher education standards is unlikely to cost him the nomination,” the article concludes.

What It Means: While the Common Core has been a rallying cry among a small segment of the far-right, most conservative voters strongly support high education standards and increased accountability for schools. The Maslansky + Partners polling reinforces evidence suggesting that for candidates who are able to articulate the value of rigorous, comparable education standards, the Common Core is not a political liability but an asset. During the midterm elections Common Core State Standards emerged as a decisive issue in only four gubernatorial races, and in three of those the candidate most supportive of the standards prevailed. After two national elections, all but one of the 45 states to initially adopt the Common Core continue to use the standards or a similar version. As Karen Nussle wrote, one reason the standards have had such staying power is that parents fundamentally support higher education standards, and it is impossible to draft standards that prepare students for college or a career and look nothing like the Common Core.

Center for American Progress, “Gov. Chris Christie’s Most Outrageous Flip-Flops”: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is expected to formally launch a presidential campaign today. Noting the Governor’s emphasis on principled leadership – in the past he has said, “The fact is you don’t have to change your positions…People have to be authentic,” and that candidates should “believe in what they say and don’t change depending on what state they’re in” – the column highlights several issues on which Gov. Christie has changed his position. Of the Common Core, “a set of rigorous math and English guidelines for elementary and secondary schools,” it points out Gov. Christie “fully flipped on his support by 2015, saying that the Common Core is ‘simply not working.’ But he does not say that his actual policy has not changed; he is still using the same tests aligned with the Common Core Standards.” The New York Times adds, “That has led to charges of flip-flopping to bolster his presidential run.”

What It Means: As the Collaborative’s Karen Nussle wrote earlier this month, Gov. Christie’s reversal on the Common Core amounts to a “toothless” political calculation that very well may backfire. “Gov. Christie’s reversal sends a mixed signal to teachers, students and parents…Gov. Christie now holds a nuanced position: opposing the phrase ‘Common Core,’ but endorsing Common Core-aligned tests, all while launching an unoriginal review that will likely result in a reaffirmation of the existing standards.” Gov. Christie could show no proof that the standards aren’t working. In fact, as the recent Honesty Gap analysis indicates, the standards are helping to close proficiency gaps. Unlike candidates who have stuck to their positions and are able to articulate the importance of high standards, Gov. Christie will have to answer to voters why the sudden change of heart.


Correcting the Record:

Education Week, “Ohio Poised to Ditch PARCC Test in Budget Sent to Gov. Kasich”: The biennial budget bill lawmakers sent to Gov. Kasich, HB 64, would prohibit Ohio from purchasing PARCC exams, which the state administered for the first time this year. Gov. Kasich has defended the Common Core, but he isn’t expected to use a line-item veto to eliminate the provision that would defund the PARCC assessments, the article reports. The budget passed by the Ohio House required state exams to be “nationally normed, standardized assessments,” but the final budget bill sent to Kasich did not contain that language. Ohio is one of the largest states in the PARCC consortium, with seventh largest public K-12 enrollment in the country, but Laura Stover, CEO of PARCC, said the organization is confident “current costs can be maintained [for participating states], and that PARCC states will continue to get the best cost for the highest quality assessment.”

Where They Went Wrong: Assessments are one of the strongest tools parents and educators have to measure student development and to identify and address learning needs. Assessments like PARCC give states the ability to compare how well their students are doing to others across the country, which provides a mechanism to hold schools accountable for student achievement. However, states are responsible for deciding which tests to use, and policymakers now have an obligation to pick or develop equally strong assessments that will ensure the states’ Common Core standards fully prepare students for college and career readiness.


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New Orleans Advocate, “Bobby Jindal Signs Common Core Accord, Says Next Step Is Electing Leaders to Scrap Standards”: On Monday, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal signed three bills that make up a legislative compromise to alleviate discord over the state’s Common Core State Standards. The bills require the state to conduct a review of the standards with public hearings, change the tests used for the upcoming school year, and gives the legislature and next governor control of reviewing changes proposed by the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. “We are pleased with this compromise, but the next big step is to elect leaders in Louisiana who are committed to getting rid of Common Core,” Gov. Jindal said in a statement. Earlier this year Gov. Jindal backed legislation to get rid of the Common Core and related tests, but lawmakers took a different approach amid opposition in the House Education Committee.

Washington Post, “Chris Christie, a Faded Republican Star, Expected to Launch Presidential Campaign Tuesday”: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is expected to formally launch a presidential campaign today. “He enters a crowded field as an underdog, wagering his retail political skills and brash style will propel him into serious competition for his party’s nod,” the article reports. Gov. Christie, who once strongly supported Common Core State Standards, called for a review of the standards last month, a move Karen Nussle called “toothless…in that it changes very little about New Jersey’s academic standards” and that “may also prove a bad political gamble” by undermining Gov. Christie’s reputation as a straight-talker.

Education Week, “Common Core or Something Else? A Map of State Academic Standards”: Between 2010 and 2011, nearly all states adopted the Common Core State Standards, and since then most continue to implement the standards. The post provides a map illustrating that 43 states and the District of Columbia continue to use the Common Core.