Common Core

Overview

Common Core
The Push for Common Standards

In 2010, state after state took a remarkable—and unprecedented—step: They adopted common academic standards. Once the dust had settled the following year, 46 states and the District of Columbia had signed on to the Common Core State Standards.

In 2010, state after state took a remarkable—and unprecedented—step: They adopted common academic standards. Once the dust had settled the following year, 46 states and the District of Columbia had signed on to the Common Core State Standards.

Of course, adopting the K-12 standards for English/language arts and mathematics was only the beginning of this new chapter in the annals of American education. The real heavy lift has been the work since that time to implement them: training educators, developing and using new curricular materials that reflect the standards, helping parents and the public understand the changes, and devising a new generation of assessments, among other things.

On the testing front, two state consortia—fueled by some $360 million in federal aid—set out to devise aligned assessments. Early on, the vast majority of states appeared on track to use those exams.

But the story has gotten a lot more complicated amid a wave of intense pushback to the common standards and assessments. In fact, several states have taken steps to rescind their prior adoption of the standards and replace them, including Indiana, Oklahoma, and South Carolina. A few other states, meanwhile, such as Missouri, North Carolina, and Tennessee, have set in motion processes to review and revise the standards. What this action really means is still only starting to become clear. Even in Indiana, for instance, the substitute standards approved by the state bear a striking resemblance to the Common Core, by most accounts.

The biggest shift so far has been on the Common Core assessment front. The early vision of a uniform system of tests across the nation has given way to a fractured landscape. Only about half of the states now plan to use common assessments from the two state testing coalitions, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) or the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. The rest have headed in all different directions. (Of course, even having half the states use the PARCC or Smarter Balanced exams is a big shift from the longstanding tradition of different tests in each state.)

The Focus of the Standards

So, what’s different about the Common Core? The architects of the standards say they are intended to define the knowledge and skills students need to graduate from high school college- and career-ready. On the Common Core State Standards website, this is defined more precisely as being “prepared to succeed in entry-level careers, introductory academic college courses, and workforce training programs.” For both English and math, the standards provide detailed, grade-by-grade expectations for knowledge and skills, although in math, there are no grade specifications for high school.

The “key shifts” in the English standards include regular practice with complex texts and their academic language; using evidence from texts to analyze and make claims; and building knowledge through “content-rich” nonfiction. The standards call for literacy to not simply be the province of English/language arts teachers, but also of instructors who teach science, social studies, and other subjects. The standards also place a premium on writing instruction, an area often neglected in classrooms, with a focus on ensuring that student writing is pegged to textual details and evidence.

In math, hallmarks of the Common Core include a greater focus on studying fewer topics in greater depth, increased “coherence” to better connect learning across math topics and grade levels, and three dimensions of rigor: conceptual understanding, procedural skills and fluency, and the application of math knowledge. These changes mean a shift in the grade levels at which some content is introduced, pushing aside other topics altogether to achieve greater depth.

Also, separate from the content standards are a set of eight standards for “mathematical practice” for students to show their understanding, from making sense of problems to reasoning abstractly and constructing viable arguments. In addition, the Common Core envisions that all students should at least progress to the level of math typically found in an Algebra 2 course.

The standards have drawn some criticism over content matters. For example, one complaint is that the English standards will lead schools to overemphasize nonfiction and crowd out time for literature. Meanwhile, some have suggested the math standards fall short of the rigor expected by some of the nation’s best prior state standards.

But what’s been especially striking is that so much of the criticism has not been about what the standards say, but rather, how they were developed or how they are being implemented. Some complain there was inadequate public input, and that the development process lacked sufficient transparency.

Perhaps the biggest concern is a belief that the federal government played an inappropriate role in pressuring states to adopt the standards. Although the U.S. Department of Education was not involved in developing the Common Core, it did create federal incentives for states to adopt “college and career ready” standards. And the easiest way to meet this was by adopting the Common Core, which most states did in rapid succession.

And certainly, the vast sum the Education Department supplied for the two state consortia to develop assessments has been a point of consternation in some quarters. Meanwhile, the standards have come under fire from some teachers’ unions for what they see as a rushed implementation and the effort to link teacher evaluations to the forthcoming Common Core exams.

Who Wrote the Standards?

The idea of developing common standards in the United States has roots that go back decades (including a failed effort in the 1990s), but the actual plan to create this set of standards was launched in 2009 by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. With major financial support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the two Washington-based groups invited state leaders to take part in developing the standards.

The standards were crafted by writing teams and feedback panels that included college professors, state curriculum specialists, and K-12 teachers as well as representatives from testing organizations such as the College Board and ACT Inc., and the Washington-based research and advocacy group Achieve. The standards were subject to two sets of public comment before being published in final form.

Looking ahead, big questions loom for this grand experiment with common standards and assessments. Check out some questions to consider. You can also keep up with developments on the Latest News section of our site.

Finally, when questions arise about the standards and what they actually say, there’s no substitute for reading them yourself.

—Updated November 1, 2014

Latest News

Pearson’s Bet on Common Core Fails to Pay Off

Pearson PLC, the world’s largest education company, made a major miscalculation on the Common Core academic standards, expecting a windfall that failed to materialize as it headed into a downward spiral in sales, stock price and staff.

The company’s Common Core strategy ran into trouble on two fronts: It struggled to develop and deliver new digital courses on time, as the academic standards themselves faced a political backlash in which several states pulled out.

Latest News

Can a President Donald Trump Get Rid of Common Core?

“Common Core is a total disaster. We can’t let it continue.”

So said presidential candidate Donald Trump in a campaign ad on his website.

To make sure there’s no confusion about where he stands on the learning standards that are now used by the vast majority of states, Trump also tweeted earlier this year:

“Get rid of Common Core — keep education local!”

The question for President-elect Trump and for the millions of teachers, parents and students living in Common Core states is pretty simple:

Latest News

See Our Analysis of Where the Common Core Stands in States

As states continue to address the Common Core State Standards in various ways, more and more people have been wondering about the status of the common core nationally.

It’s a complicated issue, in large part because clear and direct repeals of the common core are not especially common. We last checked in on where common core stands last summer. Now we’ve updated our map to reflect the standards’ position in states. 

Latest News

The Washington Post Asked Clinton, Trump For Their Education Vision. Here’s What They Said.

The Washington Post asked the two major presidential candidates to respond to an identical series of questions about their vision and plans for public schools should they become president of the United States. The Post’s education team asked questions about a number of topics, including school funding, school choice, standardized testing, early-childhood education and the Common Core State Standards. Clinton’s team responded.

Latest News

WikiLeaks: Clinton Called Common Core a ‘Political Failure’ in Speech

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton called the Common Core State Standards a “political failure” in a speech to an education technology company, according to excerpts published by WikiLeaks earlier this week.

And in the same speech, Clinton expressed skepticism that most politicians actually will be able to exert a lot of influence on K-12 policy.

Latest News

Law Change Leads To Jump In Texas Graduation Rate

Graduation rates in Texas once again have hit an all-time high — and the latest uptick can be attributed to a recent law that allows seniors to graduate high school without passing high-stakes, state mandated exams.

More than 5,800 students statewide, and at least 150 in the Austin area, were able to graduate in 2015 despite failing at least one of five end-of-course STAAR exams.

Latest News

Donald Trump’s Plan For America’s Schools

What does Trump believe about how we should fund and fix our schools, train and pay our teachers, and, most importantly, educate every child whether they’re rich or poor, fluent in English or anything but, learning disabled or two grades ahead? To these questions the candidate has offered few clear answers.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Back-to-School: You Need Stories, We’ve Got Ideas

Back-to-School: You Need Stories, We’ve Got Ideas

The boys (and girls) are back in town. For class, that is.

See how forced that lede was? Back-to-school reporting can take on a similar tinge of predictability, with journalists wondering how an occasion as locked in as the changing of the seasons can be written about with the freshness of spring.

Recently some of the beat’s heavy hitters dished with EWA’s Emily Richmond about ways newsrooms can take advantage of the first week of school to tell important stories and cover overlooked issues.

Member Stories

August 4-11
Here's what we're reading by EWA members this week

EdSource’s Theresa Harrington writes about a Common Core-aligned curriculum created by educators in California that includes shearing sheep and designing board games.

 

Parents in Florida are suing the state for a “13-year-old practice of holding back third graders who score poorly on the state’s spring reading test, arguing that more factors should come into play when deciding the children’s academic fate,” Jeffrey Solochek reports for the Tampa Bay Times.

 

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Common Core Math: A Glimpse in the Classroom

The fourth grade students sit on a carpet, wriggling, shaking their hands, looking in all directions as a teacher uses the most basic of tools — a red sharpie and a big white pad — to deliver her lesson.

The day’s agenda: teaching the Common Core standard of finding “whole number quotients.” She writes an equation on the board, and the answer works out to be 100. But she’s not done.

Seminar

The U.S. Elections & Education: Part 1
Washington, D.C. • August 30, 2016

Now that the White House race has narrowed to Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, how is education playing out as an issue in the campaign? Will it prove an important fault line between the Democratic and Republican candidates? Will Trump offer any details to contrast with Clinton’s extensive set of proposals from early childhood to higher education? What are the potential implications for schools and colleges depending on who wins the White House? Also, what other races this fall should be on the radar of journalists, whether elections for Congress, state legislatures, or governor?

EWA Radio

Hard Numbers — and Hard Truths — About Chicago’s Dropout Crisis
EWA Radio: Episode 78

The press releases from Chicago Public Schools seemed almost too good to be true: the city’s graduation rate was rising more quickly than even its staunchest supporters might have predicted.

But what happened after reporters Becky Vevea and Sarah Karp uncovered discrepancies in those numbers, and raised serious questions about the city’s dropout prevention polices and practices. Vevea (WBEZ) and Karp (formerly of Catalyst Chicago and now with WBEZ) talk with EWA public editor Emily Richmond about their award-winning investigation, the significant changes to district policy that have followed in its wake, and some examples of CPS programs that are making legitimate strides toward helping more students graduate. 

EWA Radio

‘Hamilton’ Changed Broadway. Now It’s Changing Teaching.
EWA Radio: Episode 77

Flickr/Rachel Lovinger

Thanks to Broadway star Lin-Manuel Miranda and two nonprofit groups, thousands of public high school students in New York City are getting access to the hottest ticket in town.

Wayne D’Orio, editor in chief of Scholastic magazine, joins EWA public editor Emily Richmond to discuss an innovative curriculum built around the hip-hop infused musical about the life of Alexander Hamilton, the nation’s first secretary of the treasury. How are teachers using the show as a springboard to connect students to challenging academic content aligned to New York’s Common Core State Standards? Why is the show so popular with Advanced Placement U.S. History classes? And what are some smart story ideas of other pop culture influences being used by teachers to engage kids? 

Member Stories

June 9-June 16

“When neighborhoods gentrify, schools often don’t follow—at least not nearly as quickly,” writes Jessica Huseman for Slate. “It’s a phenomenon playing out across America as middle-class white families move into urban neighborhoods that real estate agents might have once called ‘undesirable.’”

“We are loading up a lot of middle- and lower-income parents, who may have only a decade or so of work life left, with large amounts of debt,” says a scholar to Emmeline Zhao in her deep look at the debt loads of Parent PLUS loans that ran in RealClearPolitics.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Testing and Test Prep: How Much Is Too Much?

Flickr/Jirka Matousek

It’s not hard to find a teacher willing to bend your ear about the volume of standardized testing in schools today, and the pressure for “test prep.” But how widespread are such concerns among educators? And what’s the on-the-ground reality they experience?

New survey data suggest these impressions about over-testing and test prep are more than just anecdotal: They are the norm for the majority of public school teachers.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

‘Linked Learning’ the Focus of Innovative High School

Principal Dalton Cole of the School of Business and Tourism and Esther Soliman, Linked Learning administrator for LAUSD. (Gail Robinson for EWA)

Like many of their counterparts across the country, 10th graders at the School of Business and Tourism, part of the Miguel Contreras Learning Complex near downtown Los Angeles, read To Kill a Mockingbird. But they also read the works of self-help writer Dale Carnegie. Eleventh graders study The Great Gatsby but earlier in the year they pondered Contagious: Why Things Catch On, by Jonah Berger.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

What Does Common Core Teaching Look Like?

Flickr/Laurie Sullivan

When the communications office in the Huntsville (Ala.) City Schools calls English teacher Stephanie Hyatt to say a TV reporter is coming to observe her class, Hyatt knows the drill. She’s expected to stand in front of the room and lecture at students in picturesque fashion.

“That’s my job — to look exciting,” said Hyatt. “They like me, because I teach with my hands.”

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Trump’s Education Agenda, in 52 Seconds

Trump’s Education Agenda, in 52 Seconds

With Donald Trump now seen as the presumptive Republican nominee for president, after his strong victory in the Indiana primary, attention surely will grow to what he would actually do if elected.

If you want to know where Trump stands on education, you might think the first place to go would be his campaign website.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Why Tracking Textbooks Should Matter

(Flickr/ocegep)

Textbooks can have a tremendous effect on what children learn, and an upcoming  analysis from a University of Southern California researcher seeks to find out which books are in use in five large states.

But it’s hard to say which books are in use in which schools.

Multimedia

Testing Pushback: Where Does It Stand? Where Is It Headed?
Teaching and Testing in the Common Core Era

Statewide standardized testing is facing strong criticism and public backlash; witness the opt-out movement that led many families in New York and elsewhere to skip Common Core exams last year. Will the opt-out campaign gain more adherents this spring? How are states responding to concerns about tests and their use? Will newfound federal flexibility spark further change?

EWA Radio

Does America Need a ‘Math Revolution’?
EWA Radio: Episode 63

(Flickr/Mathematical Association of America)

We know many American students struggle with math and trail many of their international peers. Conventional wisdom says that’s keeping them from developing the kind of critical thinking skills they need for high-paying STEM careers, and to be successful in a 21st century global economy. But is that shortsighted view of a bigger — and more positive — picture?

Blog: Higher Ed Beat

SAT Makes Bid to Better Serve Poor Kids

David Coleman speaks to reporters at an Education Writers Seminar in Los Angeles, February 27, 2016. (Credit: EWA)

The SAT has been called out of touch, instructionally irrelevant, and a contributor to the diversity gaps on college campuses because the test arguably benefits wealthier students who can afford heaps of test preparation.

But now the SAT is fighting back. The College Board, the test’s owner, is hoping that a major makeover of the assessment that’s set to debut this weekend will persuade critics that students, teachers and colleges still need an exam that has been a centerpiece of the admissions landscape for 90 years.

Report

National Benchmarks for State Achievement Standards
American Institutes for Research

State achievement standards represent how much the state expects their students to learn in order to reach various levels of academic proficiency. In the past, these achievement standards were used by each state to report adequate yearly progress under No Child Left Behind federal legislation, and are now being used for federal reporting under the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015.

Report

National Benchmarks for State Achievement Standards
American Institutes for Research

State achievement standards represent how much the state expects their students to learn in order to reach various levels of academic proficiency. In the past, these achievement standards were used by each state to report adequate yearly progress under No Child Left Behind federal legislation, and are now being used for federal reporting under the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015.

Report

Evaluating the Content and Quality of Next Generation Assessments
The Thomas B. Fordham Institute

Evaluating the Content and Quality of Next Generation Assessments examines previously unreleased items from three multi-state tests (ACT Aspire, PARCC, and Smarter Balanced) and one best-in-class state assessment, Massachusetts’ state exam (MCAS), to answer policymakers’ most pressing questions: Do these tests reflect strong content? Are they rigorous? What are their strengths and areas for improvement? No one has ever gotten under the hood of these tests and published an objective third-party review of their content, quality, and rigor. Until now.

EWA Radio

Iowa Is First: The Presidential Candidates – and Their Education Plans
EWA Radio: Episode 57

(Flickr/Phil Roeder)

Iowa prides itself on holding the first caucuses of the presidential election year. EWA public editor Emily Richmond talks with statewide education reporter Mackenzie Ryan of the Des Moines Register about what it’s like to be at the epicenter of the presidential race insanity, her coverage of Republican hopeful Marco Rubio, and the big concerns for Iowa voters when it comes to public schools. 

Key Coverage

Growth Mindset Means More Than Just Praising Kids for Trying

The approach has been misinterpreted by some to mean simply praising effort.

But that’s misunderstanding the thinking behind a growth mindset, Dweck said. Telling students, “Keep trying; you can do it,” doesn’t work, she said. Teachers instead should ask students these questions: “What strategies have you tried? What will you try next?” “It’s not just effort,” Dweck said. “You need strategies.”

Multimedia

Standardized Testing

The Council of the Great City Schools hosted a forum on the results of a new report on the effectiveness of standardized testing. Michael Casserly made opening remarks on the report, and then panelists that included Education Secretary Arne Duncan analyzed the data in the report.

  • This panel was moderated by Caroline Hendrie, EWA’s executive director.
Blog: The Educated Reporter

As ESSA Era Begins, Assessing NCLB’s Legacy

Acting U.S. Secretary of Education John King visits a classroom in Tampa, Fla. The federal Education Department's reach has been scaled back by the new Every Student Succeeds Act, as Congress sought to transfer more authority over local schools back to the states. (Flickr/U.S. Department of Education)

America brought home a middling report card with 74.4 out of 100 points – a “C” grade — in Education Week’s 20th annual “Quality Counts” report this week, which ranks the nation and individual states on a variety of student factors, from test scores to graduation rates to “chance of success” later in life. (That’s about the same grade earned last year, as well.)

Webinar

Exclusive Access: Education Week’s ‘Quality Counts’ 2016

Exclusive Access: Education Week’s ‘Quality Counts’ 2016

EWA journalist members received an early opportunity to review Education Week’s newest Quality Counts report, which includes a special focus on school accountability.

As part of its annual Quality Counts report, Education Week grades states on a wide range of indicators, including the Chance-for-Success Index, K-12 Achievement Index, and school finance.

Webinar

Covering Common Core in the Classroom

Covering Common Core in the Classroom

Despite continued debate over the Common Core, the standards are now a classroom reality for thousands of schools across more than 40 states. But what exactly does that mean? What does it look like in action? How is implementation going? Two journalists who have dug into Common Core implementation offer fresh angles on coverage, as well as suggestions on how to interview parents, teachers and students about their experiences with the standards.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Brazil Explores U.S.-Style Education Policies

A school serving one of the poorer neighborhoods in  Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Flickr/Charlie Phillips)

Tying teacher pay to student test scores. Creating public schools of choice with private operators. Setting common standards for all students. Those issues probably are familiar to any American reporter who covers education. They are also becoming more and more common in Brazil, where many policymakers are deeply inspired by the American experience.

Seminar

College Readiness: What Does It Mean for Higher Ed?

“College and career readiness” has become the rallying cry for what high schools should aim to achieve for their graduates. But large numbers of students still arrive on college campuses needing remedial courses, and many of those who are academically ready still struggle to adapt to college and earn their degrees.

Sheraton Los Angeles Downtown Hotel
711 S Hope St, Los Angeles, CA 90017
Seminar

Teaching & Testing in the Common Core Era

(Bigstock)

Despite persistent political debates, the Common Core State Standards are now a classroom reality in public schools across the country. Yet much is in flux as educators wrestle with how best to teach the Common Core — or their own state’s version of it — and some states rethink the tests tied to the new K-12 standards.   

Sheraton Los Angeles Downtown Hotel
711 S Hope St, Los Angeles, CA 90017
Report

Knowing the Score: The Who, What, and Why of Testing
Center on Education Policy

Recently, the amount and variety of testing occurring in public schools has received considerable national attention. To help parents, educators, policymakers, and others sort out all the differing information and opinions on testing, the Center on Education Policy at the George Washington University has developed Knowing the Score: The Who, What, and Why of Testing.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

What New NAEP Scores Can – And Can’t – Tell Us

(Flickr/Ray)

For the first time since 1990, math scores dropped for fourth and eighth graders in the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the country’s most respected tool for measuring how well students understand key academic concepts. Reading scores also inched downward at the eighth-grade level, staying flat for the fourth grade compared with 2013.

Report

Student Testing in America’s Great City Schools
Council of Great City Schools

Testing in the nation’s schools is among the most debated issues in public education today. Much of this discussion has centered on how much we are testing students and how we use test results to evaluate teachers, inform instructional practice, and hold schools and educators accountable. A recent national poll by Phi Delta Kappa underscores the fact that the public at large is concerned about the extent of testing in schools, and these concerns are influencing how people think about the nationwide move to adopt and implement the new Common Core State Standards.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

CNN Debate Aside, Ed. Finds Way Into Presidential Race

Twitter/@YahooNews

Education didn’t exactly make a splash in this week’s Republican presidential debate — barely a ripple, actually — but the issue has gained considerable attention in the 2016 contest for the White House, from debates over the Common Core to proposals on higher education access and affordability.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

PARCC Test Results Coming Soon, But State Comparisons Limited

(Flickr/USAG- Humphreys)

New details on Common Core-aligned assessments came to light yesterday, as officials with one of the state testing consortia shared information on cut scores for the roughly five million students who took the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) tests this spring. In addition, the officials revealed the timeline for when those results will be made public.

Seminar

69th EWA National Seminar

The Education Writers Association, the national professional organization for journalists who cover education, is thrilled to announce that its annual conference will take place from Sunday, May 1, through Tuesday, May 3, 2016, in the historic city of Boston.

Co-hosted by Boston University’s College of Communication and School of Education, EWA’s 69th National Seminar will examine a wide array of timely topics in education — from early childhood through career — while expanding and sharpening participants’ skills in reporting and storytelling.

Boston, Massachusetts
Blog: The Educated Reporter

Back-to-School: Story Ideas That Shine

Flickr/OddHarmonic

While it may seem that every back-to-school story has been written, the well is far from dry. Are you following the blogs teachers in your district write? Have you amassed the data sets you’ll need to write that deep dive explaining why so many local high school graduates land in remedial classes when they first enter college?

No? It’s OK. You’re not alone.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Ohio Drops PARCC Tests – Now What?

Graders from Pearson testing company review students' answer sheets for Ohio's PARCC assessment. (Patrick O'Donnell/The Plain Dealer)

Ohio is the latest state to back away from common assessments tied to the Common Core State Standards. In the face of strong political opposition to the tests (and apparently a lot of criticism from educators and parents), Republican Gov. John Kasich signed a budget bill last week that effectively prevents Ohio from using the PARCC exams in the future.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Common Core Testing, Up Close and Personal

(Flickr/Todd Ludwig)

Usually, the best way to learn about a test is to just take it yourself.

Or at least that was the thinking at the recent Education Writers Association National Seminar session, “Testing, Testing: Trying Out New Assessments.” Journalists were greeted by a thick packet of test questions created for the two national assessment consortia that put together exams aligned to the Common Core State Standards — the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Teachers Speak Up on Common Core

(Flickr/Cybrarian77)

Negative reactions to the Common Core State Standards capture the headlines, but many teachers in the trenches of education reform say the standards are here so they have to implement them one way or another.

It’s the way that school administrators and politicians interpret the Common Core standards that some teachers feel is creating a sense of apprehension for their colleagues, students and parents.

Report

Who Opts Out of State Tests?
Matt Chingos
Brookings Institution

The 648 districts with complete data available had an average opt-out rate of 28 percent (the rates are averaged across the math and ELA tests). But weighting each district by its enrollment shows that an estimated 21 percent of all students at these districts opted out. The difference between these numbers implies that larger districts tend to have lower opt-out rates.

[...]

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Common Core and Textbooks: Out of Alignment?

(Flickr/University of Illinois Library)

Five years after the Common Core standards were completed, how have educational publishers responded? Where are schools turning for instructional materials? And what’s the best way to gauge whether a textbook is truly aligned with the new math and English/language arts standards. These were among the questions tackled by a panel of experts at the recent Education Writers Association seminar in Chicago.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Too Many Tests?

(Flickr/Cybrarian77)

An opt-out movement gained momentum this spring, with tens of thousands of students sitting out of new standardized tests in states including New York, Maine and New Mexico.

Meanwhile, in Chicago, a panel of testing experts gathered at the Education Writers Association’s recent National Seminar in Chicago to discuss the very predicament.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

The Urban Schools Landscape: Lessons From Chicago

Students a campus operated by the University of Chicago's charter school network. The Windy City's education policies took center stage during a session at EWA's 68th National Seminar. (Seong-Ah Cho, Urban Education Institute)

Urban education leaders crammed a marathon of Chicago’s public education woes and wonders into a 45-minute session (more akin to a 5K race) at the Education Writers Association’s recent National Seminar in Chicago.

Sara Ray Stoelinga, the director of the University of Chicago’s Urban Education Institute, joined colleague Timothy Knowles for a breakfast panel titled “10 Lessons to Take Home From Chicago” at the EWA event.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Common Core Testing in Action: How Did It Go?

Flickr/Judy Baxter

This academic year marks a critical juncture for the Common Core, as most states started testing students on the standards for the first time. The beginning has had some rough moments, with thousands of students opting out of the tests, especially in New York and New Jersey, and technology glitches in some states disrupting the assessments.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Wednesday Webinar: A Reporters’ Guide to Common Core Testing

Flickr/Michael

Almost from the outset, we’ve been warned that the implementation of new assessments aligned to the Common Core State Standards would be a bumpy road. But now that the first major wave of the testing is wrapping up, it’s a good time to take a step back and assess the situation.

Did districts conquer the expected challenges of the necessary technology upgrades? How many parents really did pull their kids out of testing? Where did things go better than anyone had predicted? And what’s up next on the testing beat? (Test scores, of course.)

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Common Core Tests: One Size Doesn’t Fit All

The phrase “Common Core test” turns out to encompass far more than most people realize.

At the Education Writers Association’s spring seminar in Denver on covering assessments in the era of the new standards, it became clear to reporters that there is no such thing as “The Test.” Rather, there are many tests, developed by different organizations all purporting to be aligned with the new Common Core State Standards.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Educators: Common Core Standards ‘Are the Floor’

From left: Educators Luann Tallman, Mark Sass, Merlinda Moldanado and Kristy Straley talk with moderator Liana Heiten of Education Week at the University of Colorado Boulder on February 26, 2015. (EWA/Emily Richmond)

For teacher Merlinda Maldonado’s sixth graders at Hill Middle School in Denver, it’s not necessarily about getting the answer right. It’s not about memorizing procedures, either. If Maldonado’s classroom is clicking, frustration can be a good thing.

EWA Radio

Ohio and the Common Core
EWA Radio: Episode 24

This spring marks the debut of online assessments aligned to the Common Core, and so far the rollout has been uneven as many states struggle with technical logistics.

EWA public editor Emily Richmond talks with education reporter Charlie Boss of the Columbus Dispatch about how Ohio’s districts, schools, teachers and students are adjusting to the demands of the new standards and tests.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Common Core Opponents Turn Up Heat on Testing Front

Panelists and moderator Andrew Ujifusa of Education Week discuss the political situation for common standards and testing at an EWA seminar on Feb. 26.

Source: EWA/ Natalie Gross

Fiery anti-Common Core campaign rhetoric hasn’t translated into many victories for those seeking to repeal the standards. Legislators in 19 states introduced bills to repeal the Common Core this session. So far none has succeeded. Repeal bills in even the reddest states – states like Mississippi, Arizona, and both Dakotas – have failed to make it to governors’ desks this year.

Multimedia

Making Sense of the Evolving Assessment Landscape
Covering Standards and Testing (Denver Seminar)

Making Sense of the Evolving Assessment Landscape

This school year marks the first time that most states will test students on the Common Core. At the same time, many states have backed away from their plans to use shared assessments and are choosing their own tests. Where do the states stand? How different will their new exams be from prior tests? And what are key questions reporters should keep in mind as they cover the first round of test results?

Blog: The Educated Reporter

The (Southern) Politics of The Common Core

Former Gov. Bev Perdue, Lt. Gov. Dan Forest and Fla. State Sen. John Legg at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill on Jan. 12, 2015. (EWA)

Against the backdrop of state and national political wrangling over the Common Core, former North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue — an early champion of the standards — joined one of the state’s leading critics of the initiative, Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, at an EWA seminar to discuss the past and future of the new academic benchmarks. (Watch a video of the session here.)

Blog: The Educated Reporter

The Common Core: What Educators Say About the Standards

Educators discuss the Common Core during an EWA seminar at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill on Jan. 12, 2015. (EWA)

When education analyst Maria Ferguson looks at data from across the country, she sees record-setting confidence levels among school district leaders that the Common Core State Standards are more rigorous than what states had in place before. At the same time, Ferguson told reporters at a recent Education Writers Association seminar, these new expectations are barreling down on educators faster than they are able to prepare.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Top Tweets: EWA Seminar Tackles Testing & Common Core

EWA members brainstorm story ideas at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill School of Journalism on Jan. 12, 2015. (EWA/Emily Richmond)

EWA was in Chapel Hill, N.C. earlier this week for our seminar on covering assessments in the era of the Common Core State Standards. We heard from policymakers, elected officials, and educators about how new expectations are reshaping the business of schooling, particularly in southern states. 

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The 2015 Education Beat: Common Core, Testing, School Choice

Students at New York University work on a computer programming project. More interactive learning is expected to be a hot topic in the coming year on both the K-12 and higher education beats. (Flickr/Matylda Czarnecka)

There’s a busy year ahead on the schools beat – I talked to reporters, policy analysts and educators to put together a cheat sheet to a few of the stories you can expect to be on the front burner in the coming months: 

Revamping No Child Left Behind

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From the Beat: Memorable Education Stories of 2014

Cadets celebrate graduation at West Point. A USA Today investigation of  congressional influence over the nomination process at elite military academies was one of the year's most memorable education stories. Flickr/U.S. Army (Creative Commons)

When you write a blog, the end of the year seems to require looking back and looking ahead. Today I’m going to tackle the former with a sampling of some of the year’s top stories from the K-12 and higher education beats. I’ll save the latter for early next week when the final sluggish clouds of 2014 have been swept away, and a bright new sky awaits us in 2015. (Yes, I’m an optimist.)

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Making Sense of the Evolving Assessment Landscape
Covering Standards and Testing (DC Seminar)

Making Sense of the Evolving Assessment Landscape

This school year marks the first time that most states will test students on the Common Core. At the same time, many states have backed away from their plans to use shared assessments and are choosing their own tests. Where do the states stand? How different will their new exams be from prior tests? And what are key questions reporters should keep in mind as they cover the first round of test results?

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Surveys: What Educators and the Public Are Saying About Common Core
Covering Standards and Testing (DC Seminar)

Surveys: What Educators and the Public Are Saying About Common Core

Lots of recent surveys have sought to gauge support by educators and the public for the standards and testing. Learn what the sometimes conflicting results reveal. And find out where district-level implementation of the Common Core stands, based on extensive national polling of school district officials.

  • Maria Ferguson, Center on Education Policy
  • Diane Stark Rentner, Center on Education Policy
  • Erik Robelen, Education Writers Association (moderator)
Blog: The Educated Reporter

Is Common Core Support Waxing or Waning? (Depends on Whom You Ask)

EWA seminar at George Washington University on Dec. 15, 2014. Left to right: Michael Brickman (Fordham Institute);  Principal Carol Burris; Andrew Ujifusa (Ed Week); Michael McShane (AEI); Carmel Martin (CAP). (EWA/Emily Richmond)

Last month’s election spells trouble for the Common Core State Standards, a set of expectations for what students should know in English and math by the end of each grade. With the standards increasingly being assailed as an unwanted federal intrusion into public education by conservatives, the Republican sweep of state legislatures – the party is now in control of over two-thirds of state lawmaking bodies – will likely lead to a new round of scrutiny of the standards and the tests tied to them.

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Taking Political Stock of the Common Core
Covering Standards and Testing (DC Seminar)

Taking Political Stock of the Common Core

It’s no secret that the standards and forthcoming tests have drawn increasingly strong criticism over the past year. Why has the Common Core become so controversial? What will the midterm election results mean for implementation and state support? And what happens in states that call for a review or even rescind the standards? Will much really change?

Seminar

Covering Standards and Testing in the Common Core Era
Seminar for Journalist Members Only

This academic year marks a critical juncture for the Common Core, as most states gear up to assess students on the shared standards for the first time. Are states, districts, and schools ready? What about states that are reviewing or have rescinded the standards? How can reporters make sense of it all? There’s no shortage of compelling angles to pursue in this complex and fast-evolving story—rendered  all the more so by the political tussles erupting over the new standards and tests. 

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Talking To Teachers: Story Ideas For Reporters

For education reporters looking for story ideas, talking to teachers is a smart place to start. That was the key takeaway from the “Performance and Perceptions: Taking the Pulse of the Profession” session at EWA’s recent seminar on the teaching profession, held last month in Detroit.

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To Fight Test Fatigue, Scholars Call for Fewer, Harder Exams

Source: Flickr/Wonderlane (CC BY 2.0)

Here’s a counter-intuitive argument: The United States should spend more money on standardized tests.

With opposition to the new Common Core State Standards and the assessments linked to them reaching a fever pitch, advocating for better tests seems like an unpopular proposition. But what if U.S. students took fewer tests that measured their ability to understand academic concepts far more deeply than current tests permit?

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Tweeting on Testing: EWA Seminar at Stanford

Reporters got a feel for standardized assessments at EWA's seminar on testing at Stanford Tuesday. (EWA/Mikhail Zinshteyn)

How can assessments get beyond rote memorization and capture the skills most valued to prepare young people for college and the workforce? Can tests effectively measure critical thinking and creativity? Will standardized tests tied to the Common Core provide a richer picture of student learning?

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Is Common Core a Recipe for National Curriculum? Survey Says ‘No’

Every time a new Common Core poll is released, a lot of people rush to find out what’s the state of public opinion on the standards. Or maybe to find out if teachers like the standards more or less than last year.

One recent survey, however, didn’t even pose the “popularity” question. Instead, it focused on wonky-sounding topics: “Curriculum and professional development.” But stay with me for a moment. This stuff matters — a lot.

Report

Common Core Redoes the Math – Education Week
New standards bring hard questions, daunting instructional adjustments

As detailed in this report, part of a series of special reports by Education Week that identify and explore high-priority issues in schools, the common standards for math differ from most previous state standards in significant ways. They are fewer in number, connect more broadly across grade levels, and emphasize conceptual understanding along with the procedural skills that schools have traditionally taught.

Report

U.S. Teachers Offer Split Decision on Common Core

In a new Gallup survey of teachers, U.S. public school teachers are closely split in their overall reaction to the Common Core State Standards: 41% view the program positively and 44% negatively. Even in terms of strong reactions, teachers’ attitudes are divided, with 15% saying their perceptions of the initiative are “very positive” and 16% saying “very negative.”

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Tenn., Other States to ‘Review’ Common Core: Where Will It Lead?

Tenn., Other States to ‘Review’ Common Core: Where Will It Lead?

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, who has been a staunch defender of the Common Core, this week announced that the Volunteer State will launch a review of the standards, including inviting public input on what specifically should be changed. This decision appears to represent a big shift for the Republican governor, who last spring spoke before a packed ballroom at the Education Writers Association’s National Seminar with a message of staying the course on the standards for English/language arts and mathematics in the face of political resistance.

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How Much Time Do Students Spend Taking Tests?

Amid the strong and growing drumbeat of complaints about overtesting at the K-12 level, many education reporters and others may be left wondering how much time students really spend taking standardized tests. And who is demanding most of this testing, anyway? The federal government? States? Local districts?

Report

Testing Overload in America’s Schools
Center for American Progress

Despite the perception that federally mandated state testing is the root of the issue, districts require more tests than states. Students across all grade spans take more district tests than state assessments. Students in K-2 are tested three times as much on district exams as state exams, and high school students are tested twice as much on district exams. Click here for study. 

Report

Common Core State Standards in 2014
Districts’ Perceptions, Progress, and Challenges

This report, based on a survey of a nationally representative sample of school districts in Common Core-adopting states, examines school districts’ efforts to implement the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).  The report addresses district leaders’ views on the rigor of the CCSS and their impact on learning and instruction, progress on and challenges in implementing the standards, outreach efforts to inform various stakeholders about the CCSS, district collaboration with other entities on various implementation activities, and the types and helpfulness of CCSS-related assistance from t

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Five Questions For… NCEE’s Marc Tucker
On School Accountability, Teachers, and the Common Core

Marc Tucker

Marc Tucker, president and chief executive of the National Center on Education and the Economy, recently unveiled a proposed accountability plan for public schools that includes significantly reducing the number of tests students take, and building extensive professional development time for teachers into every school day. He spoke with EWA.

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In Wake of Pushback, States Rewriting Common Core

Missouri State Capitol

In May, Missouri lawmakers approved a compromise to keep the Common Core in place for at least two more years but require more oversight and public input. And as Joe Robertson of the Kansas City Star reported, a total of eight committees comprised of lawmakers and parents were supposed to convene at the statehouse this week to begin the work of revising the standards.

Report

International Benchmarking: State and National Education Performance Standards
American Institutes for Research

American Institutes for Research

State performance standards represent how much the state expects the student to learn in order to be considered proficient in reading, mathematics, and science. This AIR report uses international benchmarking as a common metric to examine and compare what students are expected to learn in some states with what students are expected to learn in other states. The study finds that there is considerable variance in state performance standards, exposing a large gap in expectations between the states with the highest standards and the states with the lowest standards.

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For Waiver States, More Time for Teacher Evaluations

States receiving waivers from the No Child Left Behind Act are getting more time to grapple with how to conduct teacher evaluations using student test scores, particularly the new Common Core State Standards-based assessments.

According to Education Week, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced the postponement at an event on Thursday in Washington, D.C., which earlier this summer announced its plan to delay its new teacher evaluations.

Report

A Compendium of Research on the Common Core State Standards, by Matthew Frizzell at the Center on Education Policy

A compendium compiled by the Center on Education Policy includes more than  60 research studies focused on the Common Core State Standards, and encompasses research from multiple sources, such as government entities, independent organizations, and peer-reviewed publications from academic journals and other outlets.

Report

Common Core Goes To College

Each year, hundreds of thousands of American students graduate from high school and enter college without being adequately prepared to succeed there. This is partly the result of misaligned high school standards and higher education expectations. There are real, sobering consequences: millions of students have fallen short of earning a college degree.

The widespread adoption of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and assessments presents a new opportunity to bridge the gap between high school and higher education, according to a new report released today by New America.

Report

Benchmarking Common Core Implementation
How and to what extent are states implementing the CCSS?

The Southern Regional Education Board is conducting a multi-year study of how 15 states are implementing the Common Core State Standards. The “Benchmarking State Implementation of Common Core Standards” project builds on SREB’s decades of experience tracking and reporting state progress in education. 

In March 2014, SREB published State Implementation of Common Core State Standards —a summary plus five reports with detailed state profiles by topic.

Original article

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Poll: Support for Common Core Slipping Among California Voters

Credit: flickr/rocksee

new poll from PACE/USC Rossier School of Education suggests California voters are losing enthusiasm for the Common Core State Standards.

PACE/Rossier pollsters spoke with more than 1,000 Californians to gauge their views on a number of key issues, including the recent Vergara vs. California teacher tenure ruling, the new Common Core standards, and the job performance of state and national policymakers. Among the highlights:

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Common Core a Tainted Brand?

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam addresses attendees at the 67th National Seminar.

Tennessee joins a phalanx of other states in ending its relationship with one of the two Common Core-aligned assessment groups.

The state’s top three education leaders sent a letter to Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) announcing that Tennessee will be seeking a new set of tests and leaving the consortium. Education Week has more.

Reporter Guide

State Education Policy

The education laws and policy decisions made in the state capitol might seem far removed from the realities of the schools you cover, but their impact hits much closer to home than you might realize. Keeping track of those state debates as they occur is a good way to keep teachers, administrators and local parents in-the-loop about changes that might be coming, and give them an opportunity to contribute their opinions when they still can have an effect.

Key Coverage

National Landscape Fragments as States Plan Common-Core Testing

Only a few years ago, the ambitious initiative to use shared assessments to gauge learning based on the new common-core standards had enlisted 45 states and the District of Columbia. Today, the testing landscape looks much more fragmented, with only 27 of them still planning to use those tests in 2014-15, and the rest opting for other assessments or undecided, an Education Week analysis shows.

Key Coverage

How Bill Gates Pulled Off The Swift Common Core Revolution

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation didn’t just bankroll the development of what became known as the Common Core State Standards. With more than $200 million, the foundation also built political support across the country, persuading state governments to make systemic and costly changes.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Common Core: Angles on Assessments

Jacqueline King speaks at the 67th National Seminar.

The current generation of assessments being taken by students across the country is something like a bad boyfriend. 

That’s according to Jacqueline King of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, who made the point at EWA’s National Seminar held last month at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn. When a better guy (or test) comes along, she continued, it’s hard to take it seriously.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Common Core: Impact on the Classroom

Jose Vilson speaks at the 67th National Seminar

At EWA’s 67th National Seminar, we brought together 18 speakers — each with a unique viewpoint — to discuss the rollout of the new Common Core State Standards. This post is Part 2. Click here for Part 1. Part 3 will follow.

Georgia Teacher of the Year Jemelleh Coes said her eighth-grade student Tyler, diagnosed with behavioral issues, went from refusing to participate in class to opening up, analyzing, self-reflecting and basing his arguments on fact.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Common Core: Politics, Power and Public Debate

Jamie Woodson of Tennessee SCORE speaks at the 67th National Seminar.

At EWA’s 67th National Seminar, we brought together 18 speakers — each with a unique viewpoint — to discuss the rollout of the new Common Core State Standards. This post is Part 1. Parts 2 and 3 will follow. 

Is Common Core an evil monster to be slayed? Or, a beautiful butterfly to be cherished?

Organization

Defending the Early Years

Defending the Early Years (DEY) seeks to rally educators to take action on policies that affect the education of young children. The project seeks to mobilize the early childhood education community to speak out against what it considers inappropriate standards, assessments, and classroom practices.

 

Key Coverage

Common Core School Standards Face a New Wave of Opposition

Opposition to the Common Core, a set of reading and math standards for elementary, middle and high school students that were originally adopted by 46 states and the District of Columbia, has gathered momentum among state lawmakers in recent weeks.

The governors of Oklahoma and South Carolina are considering signing bills to repeal the standards and replace them with locally written versions. In Missouri, lawmakers passed a bill that would require a committee of state educators to come up with new standards within the next two years.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

EWA National Seminar: How to Tell a Compelling Story

Today’s post features guest blogger Mandy Zatynski of The Education Trust, who attended EWA’s National Seminar at Vanderbilt University in Nashville earlier this month. 

Thanks to the prevalence of blogs and other communication platforms, education writing now reaches beyond daily journalism and includes advocates, researchers, and almost anyone who has an interest in education and the desire to opine.

But that doesn’t mean all of it is good.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Weingarten Talks Teachers, Politics and Common Core

Lyndsey Layton (right) of The Washington Post interviews Randi Weingarten at the 67th National Seminar.

When Randi Weingarten gets depressed about the state of public education, she told attendees of EWA’s 67th National Seminar, she calls up memories of her students at the “We the People” competition in upstate New York a couple of decades ago.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Tennessee’s Haslam Aims for Mantle of Education Governor

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam addresses attendees at the 67th National Seminar.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam laughingly admitted during a speech at the Education Writers Association’s National Seminar this week that his state hasn’t always been known as a “hotbed of education reform”—or frankly, a place known for its academic achievement.

Moreover, he wasn’t the state CEO who ushered in a series of dramatic education policy changes that has put the state on the national school reform map. Still, he said at the May 19 appearance in Nashville, he’s been the guy “standing in the doorway making sure we don’t retreat.”

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Asking the Core Questions

Asking the Core Questions

Rick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute talks about some of the important questions to ask about Common Core assessments.

Recorded Monday, May 19 at Common Core: Realities of the Rollout, a special session held during EWA’s 67th National Seminar at Vanderbilt University.

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Common Core: Test for Learning

Common Core: Test for Learning

Jacqueline King of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium talks about how the assessment experience will change under Common Core.

Recorded Monday, May 19 at Common Core: Realities of the Rollout, a special session held during EWA’s 67th National Seminar at Vanderbilt University.

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Alabama’s ‘Uncommon’ Core

Alabama’s ‘Uncommon’ Core

Tommy Bice, Alabama’s state schools superintendent, talks about developing assessments outside of the PARCC and Smarter Balanced consortia.

Recorded Monday, May 19 at Common Core: Realities of the Rollout, a special session held during EWA’s 67th National Seminar at Vanderbilt University.

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The End of Test Prep

The End of Test Prep

Laura Slover of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers talks about the development of PARCC’s Common Core-aligned math and reading tests.

Recorded Monday, May 19 at Common Core: Realities of the Rollout, a special session held during EWA’s 67th National Seminar at Vanderbilt University.

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Common Core: The Plane Being Built in the Air

Common Core: The Plane Being Built in the Air

Carol Burris, the principal of New York’s South Side High School, talks about how Common Core-aligned assessments in New York frustrated students and inflated achievement gaps.

Recorded Monday, May 19 at Common Core: Realities of the Rollout, a special session held during EWA’s 67th National Seminar at Vanderbilt University.

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Haslam Discusses Push to Foster College-Going Culture in Tenn.

Haslam Discusses Push to Foster College-Going Culture in Tenn.

Gov. Bill Haslam talks with education reporters about the hoped-for payoffs—and political trade-offs—of his initiative to boost the number of Tennesseans with education past high school, including through “last-dollar scholarships” that make two years of community college tuition-free. His remarks came during a keynote address on May 19, 2014, at the Education Writers Association’s 2014 National Seminar at Vanderbilt University in Nashville.

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Tenn. Gov. Haslam on What’s at Stake With Common Core

Tenn. Gov. Haslam on What’s at Stake With Common Core

Gov. Bill Haslam discusses why his home state should stay the course as supporters of common standards and tests work to fend off attacks from both the right and left on the political spectrum. His remarks came in a keynote address on May 19, 2014, at the Education Writers Association’s 2014 National Seminar at Vanderbilt University in Nashville.

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Common Core, Uncommon Politics

Common Core, Uncommon Politics

Patrick McGuinn of Drew University talks about the sometimes-unexpected world of Common Core polling.

Recorded Monday, May 19 at Common Core: Realities of the Rollout, a special session held during EWA’s 67th National Seminar at Vanderbilt University.

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Engaging the Core

Engaging the Core

Jonathan Supovitz, co-director of CPRE, talks about writing policy that leads to greater engagement with Common Core.

Recorded Monday, May 19 at Common Core: Realities of the Rollout, a special session held during EWA’s 67th National Seminar at Vanderbilt University. 

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Common Core: Realities of the Rollout

Our May 19, 2014 special session at the 67th National Seminar looked at Common Core implementation from a variety of angles and perspectives. Below, you can view each presenter’s remarks in full and download his or her slides.

Check out our Topics page more resources on Common Core.

Playlist 1: Politics, Power and Public Debate

Playlist 2: Impact on the Classroom

Key Coverage

Common Core at Four: Sizing Up the Enterprise

The Common Core State Standards have been reshaping the American education landscape for four years, leaving their mark on curriculum and instruction, professional development, teacher evaluation, the business of publishing, and the way tests are designed.

Key Coverage

Vision Meets Reality: Common Core in Action

The Common Core State Standards have been reshaping the American education landscape for four years, leaving their mark on curriculum and instruction, professional development, teacher evaluation, the business of publishing, and the way tests are designed. In this special report, Education Week explores how the initial vision for the standards—and for aligned assessments—is now bumping up against reality in states, school districts, and local communities.

Key Coverage

Common-Core Backlash: Track State Efforts

Anxiety about and opposition to the Common Core State Standards continues to highlight many debates about education policy. Now, several states are reassessing, through legislation, their involvement with the standards and associated assessments. Governors have also issued executive orders regarding the standards. As in 2013, many of the common-core bills aren’t getting a great deal of traction, but that could change.

Education Week offers an interactive infographic that tracks the status of such legislation and executive orders. 

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Brown Center Report: Common Core, Homework and Shanghai’s Success

The third installment of the Brown Center Report on Public Education is out from the Brookings Institution, and author Tom Loveless provides plenty of food for thought in three key areas: the potential effectiveness of the new Common Core State Standards; whether American students are being saddled with  significantly more homework; and an examination of Shanghai’s reputation for producing some of the best 15-year-old math students in the world.  

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Ten Takeaways on Where States Stand on Common Core

Ten Takeaways on Where States Stand on Common Core

An intensive survey of state officials by the Center on Education Policy offers insight into the challenges facing states as they implement Common Core State Standards.
Topics covered include how states are working with higher education institutions, gearing up for assessments, and preparing teachers and principals for the transition.

Speakers: Diane Stark Rentner, Center for Education Policy; Maria Voles Ferguson, Center on Education Policy; Caroline Hendrie, Education Writers Association (moderator)

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Opportunities and Risks: Practical Issues with the Common Core Rollout

Opportunities and Risks: Practical Issues with the Common Core Rollout

The political debate about Common Core is ongoing, but other issues are coming to the fore. What are the checks and balances amid the frenzy of products purportedly aligned to the standards? How are states and districts engaging parents? Will colleges accept that high school graduates educated to the standards are college-ready? Our panelists address these and other issues.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

State of the Union: What Education Analysts Expect to Hear

Official White House photo by Pete Souza

The annual State of the Union address to Congress – and the nation – is President Obama’s opportunity to outline his administration’s goals for the coming months, but it’s also an opportunity to look back at the education priorities outlined in last year’s address – and what progress, if any, has been made on them.

Among the big buzzwords in the 2013 State of the Union: college affordability, universal access to early childhood education, and workforce development.

Seminar

Recap: Common Core at the Crossroads

Growing public distrust, cagey lawmakers and big money from all directions—it’s not just the standards and assessments that are common in the roll out of the Common Core State Standards.

Despite the pushback, the standards are fast becoming a reality across the country. What does that mean for education and the journalists who cover it? Are the standards making a dramatic difference in the way teachers work? How well have school districts planned their curricula around Common Core?

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Common Core: Should States Slow Down on Implementing New Assessments?

EWA is holding a one-day seminar for journalists today at George Washington University on the new Common Core State Standards, and I look forward to sharing content from the event with you in the coming weeks. In the meantime, the rollout of the assessments tied to the new standards was the focus of one of the panel discussions at EWA’s 66th National Seminar held in May at Stanford. We asked John Fensterwald of EdSource Today to contribute a guest post from that session.

Story Lab

Story Lab: The Common Core

The Common Core State Standards are poised to remake public education from Maine to California. While the initiative once enjoyed widespread bipartisan support, in 2013 it began facing significant political pushback. As of June 2014, the number of states that fully adopted the standards has dropped from 45 to 42, with the governors of Indiana, Oklahoma, and South Carolina signing legislation to pull out. Several others are considering similar moves. More states have backed out of the student assessment groups associated with the standards, committing to big-dollar contracts with other large testing companies.

EWA Radio

Opportunities and Risks: Practical Issues with the Common Core Rollout

The political debate about Common Core is ongoing, but other issues are coming to the fore. What are the checks and balances amid the frenzy of products purportedly aligned to the standards? How are states and districts engaging parents? Are colleges going to accept that high school graduates educated to the standards are college-ready? Panelists address these and other issues. Speakers: Gov.

EWA Radio

Assessing Common Core: What’s at Stake?

What do Smarter Balanced and PARCC officials see for the future? Speakers: Jacqueline King of Smarter Balanced and Laura Slover of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers. Moderated by Lisa Fleisher, Wall Street Journal. Recorded Nov. 4, 2013 at EWA’s reporting seminar, Common Core at the Crossroads: What Comes Next?

EWA Radio

Putting Common Core in Context: Why it Matters

A key impetus for the Common Core State Standards has been American students’ standing in the world. Speakers: Marc Tucker of the National Center on Education and Economy and author Amanda Ripley, interviewed by Michael Chandler of the Washington Post. Recorded Nov. 4, 2013 at EWA’s reporting seminar, Common Core at the Crossroads: What Comes Next?