COMMON CORE STANDARDS DAILY UPDATE // JUNE 6, 2016
News You Can Use:
The Fallacy of Going It Alone on Student Assessments / Collaborative for Student Success
Policymakers that succumbed to political pressure to remove their states from shared assessments like PARCC and Smarter Balanced are quickly learning that “going it alone” is a poor decision, explains Jim Cowen in a new memo. “Beyond the costs, time constraints and technical challenges…states that have struck out on their own have also jeopardized their ability to compare their progress to other states—and may very well come out with an inferior assessment in the process.” Like Cowen, a Chalkbeat article notes, “The process of leaving consortia that was meant to pacify local protests against Common Core-aligned tests has actually led to chaos and confusion in the classroom, not to mention extra costs to those same states to develop replacement exams.”
Philanthropist groups, like the Gates Foundation, have contributed to the pioneering work of educators by bringing promising ideas within the education realm to a national scale and studying whether those ideas are working, writes Peter Cunningham, director of Education Post. “Today, all but a handful of states have raised standards, and most are actively improving their systems of evaluation.” Several reports show states have raised proficiency benchmarks by implementing rigorous academic expectations and high-quality assessments, and states continue to lead implementation. But leaders should welcome support. Steve Forbes wrote in 2014, “We should defend those who are willing to take such risk, not attack them.”
Correcting the Record:
We Can Do Better than PARCC Testing / Santa Fe New Mexican
PARCC assessments take the excitement and pride out of student learning, argue teachers at the MASTERS Program Charter High School in Santa Fe. “Instead of seeing our students excited by inquiry and exploration during testing, we saw them suffering from apathy and fear.” PARCC assessments do not address the problem of students graduating underprepared for college, the letter claims, because they don’t provide “timely feedback or useful diagnostic information.” In fact, high-quality assessments like PARCC offer teachers and parents accurate information about student readiness based on the skills and knowledge young people need to become college and career ready. Here is where the letter gets it wrong:
PARCC Provides Parents and Teachers with Accurate Information to Help Ensure Students Are Prepared to Succeed after High School
In a letter to the Santa Fe New Mexican members of the MASTERS Program Charter High School argue PARCC assessments take the excitement and pride out of student learning.
“Instead of seeing our students excited by inquiry and exploration during testing, we saw them suffering from apathy and fear,” the authors allege. “When it comes to human beings, ‘One size does not fit all.’”
The letter further claims PARCC does not address the problem of students graduating underprepared for college or careers, because they don’t provide “timely feedback or useful diagnostic information.”
In fact, high-quality assessments provide parents and teachers with one of the best tools to measure students’ development of skills and knowledge necessary to succeed at high levels of learning, and ultimately in college or the workforce—a fact the letter acknowledges.
Mounting evidence indicates PARCC is one of the most effective measures of student progress. Research by the National Network of State Teachers of the Year (NNSTOY) finds PARCC reflects the range of reading and math skills students need; align closely with classroom instruction; and are appropriately rigorous and age-appropriate.
“[PARCC] tests aren’t perfect,” Pam Reilly, a participant in the NNSTOY study, wrote earlier this year. “But I can say with confidence these new assessments are the kind we should want our kids to take.”
Like the NNSTOY report, a two-year study by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute finds consortia exams (PARCC and Smarter Balanced) outperform other assessments on the market because of a close alignment to states’ education standards, their depth of cognitive demand, and their appropriately complex content.
Across the country, most states have begun to provide more accurate information about how well students are really doing by implementing honest assessments. An analysis by Achieve found 26 states significantly closed their “Honesty Gap” over the last two years. Likewise, a Harvard study notes, “The Common Core consortium has achieved one of its key policy objectives: the raising of state proficiency standards.”
Jim Cowen points out in a new memo, states that choose to “go it alone” by creating independent assessments jeopardize their ability to compare progress to other states and may end up with weaker assessments in the process.
“Leaders should resist temptations to go it alone, otherwise they risk undoing the years of work to get to this point,” Cowen concludes. “High-quality student assessments are one of the strongest tools teachers and parents have to ensure students receive the support they need. That shouldn’t be surrendered to the political winds of the moment.”
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Nevada Common Core Testing Completed after Meltdown Last Year / KTNV ABC 13 Las Vegas
More than 270,000 students across Nevada completed Smarter Balanced assessments last week, the state Department of Education announced Friday. State superintendent Steve Canavero called the testing cycle “one of the most successful” in the country. The smooth administration marks a turnaround from last year, when only about a third of Nevada students were able to complete the exams because of computer problems. The U.S. Department of Education eventually granted the state an exemption from mandatory participation rates.
Sweeney Baffled by PARCC ‘Hysteria’ but Open to Considering Other Exams / Politico New Jersey
New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney said he supports standardized tests and questioned the “hysteria” surrounding PARCC assessments. “Before PARCC even started, before anyone even saw it, everyone was against it,” Sweeney told local school board members. “Why don’t we change the topic to what would be a better test?” Sweeney said he would consider examining and improving on PARCC.