News You Can Use:

How Common Core Helps the Military and Military Families / Real Clear Education
The military needs service members with the skills to operate effectively in today’s Armed Forces, and military families need reassurance their children will have access to a quality education, writes Christi Ham, chairwoman of Military Families for High Standards. “As a parent and an educator, I saw that setting a high bar and then challenging children to jump it often was the way to ensure success. Common Core does that.” Like Ham, retired Army Maj. Gen. Spider Marks explains, “Common Core standards are strongly supported by military families because these state-driven standards establish clear benchmarks and high expectations in core subjects that students should be able to meet upon graduation

An Open Letter on Education Equity / Politico New York
High-quality student assessments, like those used in New York, “form the foundation of how we achieve educational equity,” write four education advocates from the state. “They provide real, hard, and accurate data we can use to measure how our children are doing across the state – and, importantly, across demographics.” Opt-out efforts “do great damage to our mission of ensuring an equal education for every child no matter where he or she is growing up.” A growing chorus of parents, teacher and experts is urging families to “opt in” to good tests. “When we are finally going in the right direction, why would we even consider going back?” Kati Haycock, president of the Education Trust, wrote last year.


Correcting the Record:

Wyoming Drops Out of Common Core Group / KOTA ABC Casper
Wyoming state superintendent Jillian Barrow announced the state will drop out of the Smarter Balanced testing consortium. “Wyoming’s affiliation with SBAC raises red flags for me as we consider a new statewide assessment,” Barrow said in a statement. “Any real or perceived conflict, such as with SBAC, detracts from securing the most appropriate assessment for Wyoming students.” Contrary to the headline’s suggestion, Wyoming is not getting rid of the Common Core. State officials now have an obligation to ensure high-quality, comparable assessments that accurately measure student development. Here is where the article gets it wrong:

Replacing Smarter Balanced Assessments, Wyoming Must Now Come Up with High-Quality, Accurate System of Accountability

A KOTA TV headline, “Wyoming Drops Out of Common Core Group,” suggests state officials are moving towards replacing the Common Core. They are not. This week state superintendent Jillian Barrow announced the state will terminate its affiliation with the Smarter Balanced testing consortium.

“Wyoming’s affiliation with SBAC raises red flags for me as we consider a new statewide assessment,” Barrow said in a statement. “Any real or perceived conflict, such as with SBAC, detracts from securing the most appropriate assessment for Wyoming students.”

One of the hallmarks of Smarter Balanced assessments was the ability for teacher and parents to compare how well schools were preparing students relative to their counterparts across the country. Wyoming officials now face the challenge of producing high-quality assessments that achieve that comparability and accurately measure student readiness.

An analysis by Achieve this year found most states have significantly narrowed their “honesty gaps” by implementing rigorous education standards and challenging assessments. Wyoming closed discrepancies between state reported proficiency rates and those identified by NAEP by eight percentage points in fourth-grade reading.

To build on that momentum, state officials must ensure statewide assessments honestly reflect student preparedness. “By adhering to a loftier standard and adopting next-generation assessments, [states] will set [their] students on a path to learn more and achieve at higher levels than they otherwise would have done,” Mike Petrilli wrote last month about other states considering new assessments.


On Our Reading List:

Student Debt Is about to Set Another Record, But the Picture Isn’t All Bad / Wall Street Journal
Graduating college seniors are expected to set a record for student debt obligations, but they are also more likely to find a job and make a decent starting salary than those who graduated in recent years. About seven in ten seniors borrowed toward their education. Those students will carry an average of $37,172 in student debt, according to research by Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of the website Cappex. The New York Federal Reserve says the median salary for recent college graduates was $43,000 in 2015, up from $39,992 the previous year.

Tennessee Disregarded Red Flags with TNReady Testing Firm / The Tennessean
Education officials in Tennessee knew about concerns over test administrator Measurement Inc.’s ability to fulfill its five year contract, even before problems arose on this year’s exams. The vendor’s online platform was relatively untested at the scale the state was asking, the article reports, a concern flagged by officials in Connecticut, which used the software in a limited fashion for several years. “Based on the highest technical score and lowest cost, [Tennessee] awarded Measurement Inc. the contract,” a spokesperson for the state Department of Education said.

YouGov White Paper: Students and Parents Weigh In on Education Testing in America /
A study by finds a majority of parents see value in statewide student assessments, but fewer than half say tests show how much their child has learned in school. “This is a moment in time…that should be capitalized on to build accountability systems that unite rather than divide,” writes Kristen Harmeling. “Policymakers… should use this transition period from NCLB/RTTP to ESSA to ensure that the voices and views of all stakeholders – including students and parents – are included in the development and communication of new accountability systems, in whole and in part.”