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Cutting Crucial Part of School Testing | Hartford Courant
Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy’s decision to remove the performance task of the state’s Smarter Balanced assessments risks undoing much of the promise of the tests, writes Sarah Burns, a senior curriculum developer at the University of Chicago. “By doing away with this part of the assessment, the governor has moved the bulk of the assessment back to multiple-choice questions given via computer.” Mounting evidence suggests high-quality assessments like Smarter Balanced and PARCC do a better job of evaluating student readiness than most states’ old tests. “I can say with confidence these new assessments are the kind we should want our kids to take,” wrote Pam Reilly, a participant in research conducted by the National Network of State Teachers of the Year.

Common Core | Hays Daily News
Editorial writer Patrick Lowry says Kansas lawmakers have used little rationale in considering legislation that would repeal the state’s Common Core Standards. “This is the fourth straight year such legislation has surfaced in Topeka,” Lowry notes. Pointing out that the standards have strong support from educators, the piece adds, “We can only hope legislators weigh the merits of the bill instead of the politics that drove its drafting in the first place.” Lowry mischaracterizes the Common Core as an alternative to No Child Left Behind, but correctly states it “is not a federal initiative.” Last year, 21 State Teachers of the Year wrote, Common Core State Standards “preserve and strengthen local control by ensuring that classroom teachers make the day-to-day decisions, and that longer-term curriculum planning is done at the district level.”

Common Core Teaches Basic Skills | Chester News & Reporter
Susanne Strickland Nazian, a South Carolina minister, writes Common Core State Standards set clear learning goals at each grade level to “help students acquire the basic skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in college or in the job market.” “Common core is not some government program. It is not a liberal agenda. It says nothing and does nothing about religious practices. It advises a set of common standards in hopes of defining what it means in terms of basic skills and knowledge to have a high school diploma.” Like Nazian, former Education Secretary Bill Bennett wrote last year, “The issue of honest standards of learning for our children is too important to be buried in an avalanche of misinformation and demonization.”

Correcting the Record:

Down with Algebra II! | Slate
For many students, “math is often an impenetrable barrier to academic success,” and therefore they shouldn’t have to take “abstract” math like Algebra II, Dana Goldstein argues. High-level math required by the Common Core, Goldstein suggests, “drives dropouts at both the high school and college levels.” Goldstein cites fellow author Andrew Hacker, who says, “We are really destroying a tremendous amount of talent—people who could be talented…but can’t even get a community college degree.” In actuality, Common Core State Standards prepare students for the kind of math they will encounter in college or the workforce, and they help students develop a conceptual understanding of numbers and functions to help them succeed at high levels. Here is where Goldstein gets it wrong:

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Florida Public Schools Could Get Ok to Use Alternative Tests | Associated Press
A Florida Senate panel voted Tuesday to advance a bill that would give school districts the option of switching from the Florida Standards Assessment to the SAT or ACT. The bill, SB 1360, will now move to the full Senate. State Education Commissioner Pam Stewart has already questioned the legislation, arguing college admission exams like the SAT and ACT are not aligned to the state’s education standards.

Alabama School Superintendent Retiring | Alabama State Superintendent Tommy Bice announced Tuesday he will retire at the end of March after more than four years in his position. Bice said the State Board of Education is aware of his decision and will likely begin discussing both an interim and long-term replacement. Bice oversaw implementation of Alabama’s Common Core State Standards and spoke out against legislation that sought to repeal them.