News You Can Use:


I’m Opting Out of Opt-Out | Huffington Post 
Shannon Sevier, vice president of advocacy for the National PTA, writes that opt-out efforts undermine educational equity and leave unaddressed how to improve test quality. “We must be effective stewards of education for our nation’s children by improving assessment systems, not opting children out of the system that should be for their benefit.” In December, Dr. Antipas Harris wrote, “High-quality assessments, which reflect the kind of rigor students need, are too valuable for parents to forego—especially for the majority of African American, Hispanic and disadvantaged children.”

How the Marine Corps Prepared Me for Teaching | Education Week
Kentucky teacher Sarah Yost outlines how high academic standards empower teachers to best help their students, stating: “What I realize now about Kentucky’s Academic Standards is that the standards capture the wisdom of experienced teachers and help focus all teachers on what is essential for all students to know how to do before they leave our classrooms. Not that they dictate everything we will teach them, but they help us narrow in on what students need to learn how to do before moving on to the next grade.” Contrary to the misperception that Common Core State Standards constrict creativity and flexibility in classrooms, they provide teachers autonomy by setting high learning goals and giving states, districts, and educators control over how best to achieve them. As two New York educators wrote last year, Common Core State Standards empower “greater collaboration” among teachers and students, and allow educators to share best practices to unlock students’ full potential. That’s one reason why teachers remain strongly supportive of the Common Core. In fact, a 2014 Scholastic study found more than 80 percent of teachers who worked closely with the standards were enthusiastic about implementation.

Melinda Gates Defends Common Core | CNN
In an interview with “Out Front” host Erin Burnett, Melinda Gates says, “It’s funny to me we’re talking about [Common Core State Standards] from a federal level, when it’s actually the states that decided and are implementing it.” Noting that educators overwhelmingly support the standards, Gates adds, “I’d rather trust the teachers than some noise at a political level.” She points out Kentucky, the first state to adopt the Common Core, has made some of the biggest academic improvements in the country. Like Gates, last year 21 State Teachers of the Year wrote, “The Common Core is not a federal takeover of our schools, nor does it force teachers into a rigid model for classroom instruction.”

Correcting the Record:

Time for Gov. Baker to Take a Stand on Common Core | New Boston Post 
Massachusetts officials had no reason to adopt the “untested, unpiloted Common Core scheme,” Jane Robbins and Emmett McGroarty of the American Principles Project argue. The authors go further, saying, “Parents fighting for their children’s futures must now engage in an expensive legal battle against deep-pocketed groups determined to preserve the failing status quo.” In fact, Massachusetts voluntarily adopted Common Core State Standards because they offer clear, consistent learning goals and allow teachers to collaborate with their counterparts across the country. Here is where the Robbins and McGroarty get it wrong:

Anti-Common Core Forum in Massapequa Draws about 200 People | Newsday 
The headline suggests that a large number of parents, teachers and administrators turned out to oppose the Common Core State Standards. In fact, as the article indicates, participants actually were upset with state testing policies—particularly with the amount of time devoted to exams. Common Core State Standards ensure state and local authorities retain control over student assessment issues. Here is where the article gets it wrong:

On Our Reading List:

Two Studies Find Common Core Tests Make the Grade | Hechinger Report 
On the heels of a report by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, which finds PARCC and Smarter Balanced assessments do the best job of measuring student development against college- and career-ready standards among five tests, a study by the American Institutes for Research (AIR) finds some tests set proficiency benchmarks too low. Different tests aligned to the Common Core had different proficiency levels, which were often lower than what is considered college- and career-ready by the National Assessment of Educational Progress. “What matters there is not the test, but the cut score,” says Gary Phillips, AIR vice president.

After Online Testing Failure, Tennessee Students Take New TNReady Assessment the Old-Fashioned Way | Chalkbeat Tennessee  
Less than a month after technical problems disrupted the debut of Tennessee’s online assessments, a majority of the state’s school districts have received printed materials for students to take the tests with pencil and paper. The Tennessee Department of Education used eight printing companies nationwide to produce the tests, and nearly one million tests had been distributed statewide, a spokesperson reports. About 60 districts have already completed the tests. In response to educators’ frustrations, Gov. Bill Haslam proposed giving teachers the options to waive test scores from evaluations this year.

Fordham Institute Statement on Report Card Data Release | Ohio Gadfly Daily
With high standards and next-generation assessments, Ohio’s student proficiency rates fell, as expected, and as a result, school ratings declined as well. “This much-needed reset of academic expectations will better ensure that parents and the public have an honest gauge of how students and schools are performing,” the analysis notes. But policymakers still have work ahead to ensure parents and teachers receive a clear picture of student readiness. “Policymakers are only halfway up the mountain,” says Aaron Churchill, Ohio research director for the Fordham Institute. “To help complete the job, they must raise the cut score for student proficiency.”