News You Can Use:

Where Does the Need for College Remedial Work Begin? / Grand Forks Herald
About a quarter of college-bound students aren’t prepared for college-level coursework and the “sad truth is that many students who need remedial courses are not aware of their deficiencies” until it’s too late, writes Lloyd Omdahl, former Lieutenant Governor of North Dakota. “Generally speaking, parents with low expectations of their children are seldom disappointed.” College remediation costs families nearly $1.5 billion, and 45 percent of students who require remedial classes come from middle- and high-income families, NPR reported last month. Common Core State Standards set high, consistent learning goals for all students, better ensuring they are fully prepared for college and careers and giving parents accurate information about how their children are doing.

Teaching to the Test: Hype or Reality? / The Brown Center Chalkboard
Contrary to the narrative that high-stakes testing detracts from classroom instruction, Michael Hansen, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, writes the problem is not as “menacing as commonly believed.” “If tests are designed to rigorously assess learning on good standards, these are precisely the tests we would hope are influencing teachers’ practices…The good news is that the new Common Core aligned assessments have recently been shown to improve upon even the best of the prior generation of state assessments.” An analysis by Achieve this year found 26 states significantly closed their “Honesty Gaps” by implementing high-quality assessments. Pam Reilly, Illinois’ 2014 Teacher of the Year, wrote recently, “I can say with confidence these new assessments are the kind we should want our kids to take.”



Correcting the Record:

Utah Governor Tells Education Board ‘It Doesn’t Matter Who Is Right or Wrong’—It’s Time to Move Away from Common Core
Salt Lake Tribune
Even while acknowledging much of the opposition to Common Core State Standards is due to inaccurate information, Utah Governor Gary Herbert argued Friday it is time for the state to replace the standards. “Somehow we’ve got to find a way to resolve this controversy and come together,” Gov. Herbert said. “Let’s transition to something better.” However, as evidence from the three states that have taken the repeal-and-replace path makes clear scrapping the Common Core invariably leads to either nearly identical learning goals or inferior standards. Here is where Gov. Herbert gets it wrong:

Utah Governor Gary Herbert’s Political Calculations Could Put Students and Teachers at a Disadvantage

Late last week Utah Governor Gary Herbert again urged the state Board of Education to replace the Common Core, the Salt Lake Tribune reports. “It doesn’t matter who is right or wrong—we’re past that,” Gov. Herbert argued. “Let’s transition to something better.”

However, the evidence from the few states that have taken the “repeal-and-replace” path makes clear that replacing the Common Core State Standards inevitably leads to either inferior academic standards, or, a rebranding of the Common Core. A recent white paper by the Collaborative for Student Success notes:

“Replacing the Common Core State Standards invariably leads to either modest adjustments and renaming—effectively ‘rebranding’ the Common Core (as in both Indiana and South Carolina)—or, academic standards that are inferior to the Common Core (as in Oklahoma)…

“Meanwhile, most states’ commitment to rigorous college- and career-ready expectations through the Common Core is having a demonstrable lift on schools. A report released in January by Achieve found a majority of states have raised proficiency benchmarks by implementing challenging education standards and high-quality assessments.”

Earlier this month the Salt Lake Tribune editorial board wrote that Gov. Herbert caved to an “irrational fear of education monsters,” unnecessarily subjecting classrooms to uncertainty and disruption. “The campaign platforms of [gubernatorial challenger Jonathan] Johnson and, now, Herbert do little to improve our efforts [to assess students] and instead sadly surrender to the uneducated fears too many of us harbor about education.”

A review of Utah’s Common Core Standards in 2014, led by the state Attorney General, concluded that the standards do not undermine local control. “Utah’s authority over its standards and curriculum has not, and will not, be ceded to the federal government …Additionally, the Board affirms school district and charter boards’ statutory control in setting their own curriculum,” the Utah Board of Education said following the 2014 review.

The state Board of Education voted Friday to accelerate a regular review of the state’s education standards and to replace the SAGE assessment, which is aligned to the Common Core. Gov. Herbert acknowledged any changes could build on the Common Core framework—as several other states have done.

However, as an analysis by the Collaborative for Student Success points out, the threat of repealing the Common Core creates uncertainty for teachers and students. “By caving to political pressure, Gov. Herbert could put Utah classrooms on a path of disruption and uncertainty, and subject the state’s teachers and students to inferior academic expectations.”


On Our Reading List:

Raising the Common Core Bar until Nobody Can Get Over / Education Week
Michigan lawmakers’ argument that the state should replace the Common Core with Massachusetts’ old education standards doesn’t add up, writes Nancy Flanagan. “Didn’t we already adopt the CCSS to raise standards?…And here’s the real irony: MA standards are very similar to the Common Core—especially the math standards…This is a political ploy—a jab at the folks who adopted the CCSS in the first place (the State Board), and a chance to poke some more at public schools.”