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What’s Your Game Plan for Success? | Be a Learning Hero
The Game Plan for Success initiative, which launched yesterday, encourages students and parents to aim high, listen and practice, and test their skills—and supports schools that are helping young people reach their potential through high standards and high-quality assessments. Some schools are “hitting it out of the park” with high standards, clear expectations, and classroom support, a video featuring several MLB players notes. The projects invites teachers and families from Colorado, Illinois and New Jersey to vote for schools that are going above and beyond to prepare students, which could win $5,000 delivered by a baseball superstar or World Cup champ. Vote here.

National PTA’s New Stand on Opt-Outs Could Prove Timely This Testing Season | Education Week
In January, the National PTA updated its position on student assessments, which states the organization “does not support state and district policies that allow students to opt-out of state assessments.” It adds, “The association believes the consequences of nonparticipation in state assessments can have detrimental impacts on students and schools.” “We want to work together with the whole system at the table,” explains Laura Bay. “And we felt that, when you opt out, you are not at the table anymore.” In February, Shannon Sevier, vice president of advocacy for the National PTA, wrote, “Mass opt-out comes at a real cost to the goals of educational equity and individual student achievement while leaving the question of assessment quality unanswered.”

Dispatches from Great Classrooms: Reno, Nevada | The New Teacher Project Blog
In Chris Hayes’ second-grade classroom in Reno, Nevada, history lessons build literacy skills. It is part of Core Knowledge, a literacy program aligned to Common Core State Standards, which integrate learning across subjects. “The kids are engaged. They think learning is fun,” says Hayes. “What we’re doing for them is very important.” Last year, two New York teachers explained, Common Core State Standards “reinforce foundational skills by integrating concepts from one class to the next. This synergy, in turn, has created a more logical progression of learning and promises to help accelerate student development.”

Correcting the Record:

Keep Opting Out  | Westchester Journal News
New York parents should continue to withhold their children from state assessments because “minuscule adjustments” made to state tests are not enough, argues Suzanne Coyle, a local parent. “Test-based accountability has never been shown to increase academic achievement and there is no evidence that these test scores are predictive of anything. But we do know that a focus on test scores narrows the curriculum and ‘dumbs down’ our children’s educational experience.” Coyle’s rally call ignores that high-quality student assessments are an important tool to help parents and teachers ensure their kids are developing the skills to become college and career ready. Here is where Coyle gets it wrong:

‘Who Needs Algebra?’: Fox News Panel Debates Whether Math Should Be Required in School | Raw Story
A panel of Fox News hosts questioned whether students would be better off if schools eliminated algebra requirements, following a suggestion by author Andrew Hacker that high-level math requirements drive up drop-out rates. Host Pete Hegseth attributed problems to the “mumbo jumbo” of Common Core State Standards. “They are setting [students] up to fail. And then we’re lowering the standards and we’re trapping kids in failing schools.” As we’ve pointed out before, preparing students for high-level math ensures they are able to pursue the college or career path of their choosing. Hegseth’s suggestion that Common Core State Standards set students up to fail run counter to the very purpose of the standards. Here is where he gets it wrong:

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Missouri May Have Erred in Going Alone on Testing | St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Missouri officials made a “hasty decision to go it alone on standardized testing” and to pull out of the Smarter Balanced consortium, write Mike Petrilli and Robert Pondiscio of the Fordham Institute. There is no research yet to determine the quality of the tests Missouri adopted, but an analysis by the Fordham Institute found Smarter Balanced and PARCC assessments were stronger than most states’ previous exams “by no small margin.” “Show-Me State policymakers should commission an independent evaluation, pronto” to determine whether the state’s tests emphasize the content needed for college and career readiness.

Standardized Tests Start Smoothly in Bozeman Schools | Bozeman Daily Chronicle
Bozeman schools began administering Smarter Balanced tests without any malfunctions. Last year student assessments in Montana were disrupted by technical problems that prevented many students from completing the tests. “I’d say it went very well,” said Robin Miller, curriculum administrator for the district. “So we are encouraged.”