News You Can Use:

Education Post, “Here’s One Thing We Did to Create Deeper Learning Opportunities for Our Students”: Colorado’s implementation of Common Core State Standards enabled Jessica Moore, a fifth-grade teacher in LaSalle, to focus “on more than simply advancing [students] toward the next grade level.” “I was able to teach basic skills and productive work habits early on, and then move toward more complex materials and analysis,” Moore explains. “I didn’t just tell my students that I had higher expectations for them – I showed them through the material we encountered and how they were required to address it…They became noticeably more engaged, their responses more sophisticated and authentic…Witnessing this contrast, while also pursuing my own professional learning opportunities about the new standards, has inspired me to make key instructional changes in my classroom as this new year beings.” Moore closes, “Higher standards shouldn’t be reserved for just some kids. Every student deserves the opportunity to spend their school days engaged in work – and in work that’s worth doing.”

What It Means: By putting a greater emphasis on content understanding and providing a clear progression of learning, Common Core State Standards empower teachers and students to dig deeper into material and build strong fundamental skills. A Scholastic study last fall found more than two-thirds of teachers who worked closely with the Common Core saw an improvement in students’ critical thinking and reasoning skills. Like Moore, teachers continue to overwhelmingly support Common Core State Standards because of the flexibility and creativity they encourage, and their promise to ensure more students graduate high school college- and career-ready.

Associated Press, “Officials: Survey Positive on Common Core-Linked Standards”: On Thursday, the Mississippi Department of Education revealed the results from the public comment period on the state’s Common Core standards, which show an overwhelming majority of participants support the college- and career-ready standards. More than 91 percent of teachers approved, as did 83 percent of parents and 88 percent of students. Ninety-three percent of community members and virtually all business and industry leaders approved. “We greatly appreciate all of the comments, but I am especially pleased to see our teachers and administrators voice their support and concerns,” said State Superintendent Carey Wright. “Our schools have implemented these higher standards over the last several years and we greatly value their experience and input as we work to strengthen our standards.” The public input period, which started June 15 and concluded on September 15, drew more than 8,500 responses.

What It Means: The feedback in Mississippi underscores the broad support among parents, teachers and business leaders for Common Core State Standards, and reinforces recent polling that shows the public overwhelmingly supports high education standards and increased school accountability. After two national elections all but one of the 45 states to initially adopt the Common Core continue to use the standards, or a very similar version. Karen Nussle explains that’s because the Common Core incorporates the best evidence of what students need to know and be able to do to graduate high school ready for college or a career, and that it is “impossible to produce a set of K-12 academic standards that both bear no resemblance to Common Core, and adequately prepare students for college and career.”

Times Picayune, “Bobby Jindal Should Give Up His Losing Battle against Common Core”: Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal knows “Common Core isn’t a federal program and doesn’t infringe on the state’s power to decide what children are taught,” the editorial board writes following a U.S. District Judge’s ruling the Governor’s lawsuit to stop implementation is indefensible. “For political purposes, [Gov. Jindal] needs to keep tilting at the Common Core windmill,” the piece states. “He’s counting on that battle to help him woo ultraconservative voters opposed to the new academic standards and the multi-state test that measures their effectiveness.” Gov. Jindal lost a similar lawsuit in state court last year. The editorial says it is “offensive” and “irresponsible” that Gov. Jindal would use state funds to continue the politically-driven fight. “Basically he is trying to keep students here from being compared academically to children in other states. He is going against business leaders, state Superintendent of Education John White, a large portion of the Legislature and his own better judgment…And now he needs to give up.”

What It Means: The editorial underscores Gov. Jindal’s political motivations, which many have argued put his presidential ambitions ahead of Louisiana students. By subjecting schools to multiple lawsuits, Gov. Jindal has created uncertainty for educators and risks putting students at a disadvantage. The courts’ rulings reaffirm the position of repeated analyses: that Common Core State Standards are not the work of federal authorities and do not dictate what schools must teach. Instead, the standards empower deeper content learning by setting rigorous, consistent learning goals and giving local authorities control over how best to achieve them. The rulings should give pause to political candidates who would push the same misinformed talking points to attack the Common Core.


Correcting the Record:

Philadelphia Inquirer, “Corporate Ed Fails the Test”: Lisa Haver, a retired teacher and cofounder of the Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools, writes that it’s time to “pull the plug” on what she calls “corporate education reform.” “Investors and lobbyists spun the narrative that schools were failing and that teachers and their unions were to blame,” Haver says. “The untested Common Core Standards were adopted in every state… Lasting decisions on the mission and direction of entire districts were being made in the corporate boardrooms of reform heavy-hitters…But after all of the billions spent and all of the laws passed to institute these reforms in every major city in the country, those vastly improved school systems, meeting the needs of children and communities, have yet to appear.” Citing recent polling, Haver argues a “majority of Americans reject the need for national standards or the idea that it is crucial to use tests aligned to those standards to compare test results across states.” She adds that the Common Core has “sucked the joy and creativity out of teaching and learning.” “The corporate model creates winners and losers…Time to pull the plug and give our schools back to the people.

Where They Went Wrong: Contrary to Haver’s assertion that corporate interests and federal authorities are driving implementation of Common Core State Standards, evidence shows the push for higher academic standards remains a state-led effort. A Center on Education Policy study finds in most school districts, teachers and administrators are developing curricula to meet new learning goals. At the state level, education officials continue to review and build on the framework laid by the Common Core. And states leading the way, like Kentucky and Tennessee, have achieved some of the biggest academic improvements in the country.


On Our Reading List:

Politico Pro, “Ohio Facing Common Core Criticism”: Politico’s Morning Education roundup leads with the news the Ohio Board of Education voted earlier this week to “depart from the general benchmarks on the PARCC exam” to use its own proficiency benchmarks. On the PARCC scale about a third of students would have met or exceeded proficiency; the “board’s change roughly doubles the number of students meeting standards.” The report cites Karen Nussle’s recent memo: “This discrepancy should give pause to parents, community leaders and policymakers who expect transparency in Ohio’s transition to higher standards and new tests…[It] suggests that Ohio has set the proficiency bar too low and undermines the promise of ensuring kids are on track for college and career.”

Associated Press, “Louisiana’s Common Core Test Results to Be Released in November”: State Superintendent John White announced Thursday that Louisiana education officials will release the scores from assessments aligned to Common Core State Standards, which were administered for the first time last spring. School performance scores will be released about a week after the exam scores are made public. Reports in the New Orleans Advocate about how the results should be used sparked dispute in a meeting of the Superintendent’s Advisory Council on Thursday morning. Scott Richard, director of the Louisiana School Boards Association, said it is “unimaginable” the Department of Education would withhold the results now even though the information is in., “Millburn Parents to Get Math Lessons”: Parents of elementary-age students will have a chance to learn more about math techniques encouraged by the Common Core during information sessions, called “Parent University,” hosted by New Jersey educators on September 30. “This session is designed to present an overview of the Math in Focus program that has been implemented in grades K-5,” said assistant superintendent Michael Ryan. “In addition, we’re hoping to provide some instant tips that families can use to support their children at home.”