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Education Group Says Website Bullies Pro-Common Core Educators / Glens Falls Post Star

Leaders of High Achievement New York have called attention to a website that seeks to publicly shame teachers and administrators who speak out in favor of the Common Core and associated assessments. The website features an “Educational Wall of Shame,” and allows users to send disparaging pre-written emails to educators who encourage parents and students to “opt in” to state tests. As former U.S. Secretary of Education Bill Bennett wrote last fall, such attacks obstruct honest debate about the value of college- and career-ready education standards. “The issue of honest standards of learning for our children is too important to be buried in an avalanche of misinformation and demonization.”

Gates Foundation ‘Doubling Down’ on Common Core / Washington Examiner

In an open letter Gates Foundation CEO Sue Desmond-Hellmann acknowledged missteps in the implementation of Common Core State Standards, but said the organization is “doubling down on our efforts to make sure teachers have what they need to make the most of their unique capabilities.” “All students can thrive when they are held to high standards,” Desmond-Hellmann writes. “The Common Core State Standards help set those expectations.” The letter points to states like Kentucky, which has achieved some of the biggest academic improvements since implementing the Common Core.


Correcting the Record:

More than Five Years after Adopting Common Core, Kentucky’s Black-White Achievement Gap Is Widening

Hechinger Report

Student proficiency scores have been steadily improving since Kentucky implemented assessments aligned to the Common Core, but data shows African-American students perform worse than their white peers on average. Achievement gaps have widened, the article reports. “Kentucky finds itself at a crossroads…It’s clear raising standards was not enough to help all learners.” Rigorous, consistent education standards are not a silver bullet, but they are necessary to ensure all students are held to college- and career-ready expectations. Here is where the suggestion that Common Core State Standards are not helping close achievement gaps gets it wrong:


Rigorous, Consistent Education Standards Better Ensure Classroom Equality


Student proficiency scores have been steadily improving since Kentucky implemented assessments aligned to the Common Core, but data shows African-American students perform worse than their white peers on average, a Hechinger Report article notes. “Kentucky finds itself at a crossroads…It’s clear that raising standards was not enough to help all learners.”


Common Core State Standards are not a silver bullet to discrepancies in student achievement. As the article notes, many factors affect classroom performance, and educators are working to address those needs. For example, teachers may provide personalized instruction to students who are struggling in certain subjects or with specific content.


However, it is unfair to suggest the Common Core is responsible for exacerbating academic achievement gaps. High, consistent learning goals ensure all students are held to expectations designed to fully prepare them for college and careers, an important first step to begin improving student outcomes.


Evidence suggests since implementing rigorous academic standards and high-quality assessments most states have begun to raise classroom expectations. An analysis by Achieve found 26 states significantly closed discrepancies between state-reported proficiency rates and those identified by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).


Likewise, a Harvard University study finds 45 states raised their standards for student proficiency since 2011, with the greatest gains occurring between 2013 and 2015. “In short,” the study concludes, “the Common Core consortium has achieved one of its key policy objectives: the raising of state proficiency standards throughout much of the United States.”


The Honesty Gap analysis notes most states are now beginning to provide parents and teachers with better information about how well prepared their students relative to levels that ensure college- and career-readiness.


“States are finally measuring to levels that reflect what students need to know and be able to do to succeed in college or a career,” Karen Nussle wrote last fall. “For parents and educators, that should come as a welcome change.”


“[States] should really be commended for starting to be more transparent with parents and educators about how their kids are doing,” explains Sandra Boyd, chief operating officer for Achieve. “It really is the first step in improving outcomes.


By holding all students to college- and career-ready expectations, and measuring development against that yardstick, schools will better ensures young people have access to an education that prepares them for high levels of learning. But those changes will require time to take root.


As with most education policies, it will take time—probably years—for these changes to take root and begin to improve student outcomes, an analysis by the Collaborative for Student Success notes. The strength of the Common Core is that the standards build strong foundations of fundamental skills beginning at early grades. Therefore, as more students in early grades begin to learn through the standards, achievement will gradually increase.


Policymakers should resist the temptation to declare that the Common Core will not help to close achievement gaps. Instead, they should provide support to teachers and parents to help ensure all students are able to achieve to these new, higher academic expectations.


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Parents Sue Texas Education Agency over STAAR Exams / Texas Tribune

A group of parents filed a lawsuit Monday against the Texas Education Agency in an attempt to keep schools from using 2016 results from STAAR exams to rate students, including whether students should advance to the next grade level. The suit argues the exams were not administered under the parameters laid out in a bill pass last year, which requires the state to design the assessments to be completed within a two- or three-hour timeframe, depending on grade. Texas is one of five states that never adopted the Common Core or related assessments.

New Mexico Adopts Award-Winning K-5 Mathematics Curriculum / PR Web

The New Mexico Department of Education adopted the Stepping Stones curriculum for math in grade 3-5, an expansion of the state’s original adoption of Stepping Stones for grades K-2 in 2012. The curriculum is aligned to Common Core State Standards. “The teaching strategy of this math curriculum stems from research that highlights the importance of mastering the basic facts that form the necessary foundations of calculating with more complex numbers and operations,” the release notes.