Common Core

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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

Texas’ Math Standards are Almost Identical to the Common Core, which is Illegal in the State

Karen Demore booms. She stomps. She makes a mess. She’s one of those teachers kids can’t get enough of. 

On a recent Tuesday, she stood at the back of her cluttered third-grade math classroom, presiding over a set of scales weighed down on one side with two textbooks—1 kilogram total. The kids ran around the room, eagerly looking for objects that would balance the other side. They jostled into a line and then took turns gingerly placing their chosen objects on the scale.

Latest News

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

The second-graders in Sarah Bowling’s class at Dunn Elementary were on a scavenger hunt to find “arrays.”

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Opt Out 2.0: Snapshot of Spring Testing Season

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With state testing season wrapping up, the decision by some families to skip the K-12 exams in protest this spring has once again sparked widespread discussion – and news coverage around the country.

Latest News

PARCC’s ‘College-Ready’ Score Reflects Rigor of College Work, Study Finds

A first-of-its-kind study has found that students who score at the “college-ready” level on the PARCC exam are well-positioned to earn good grades in college. The findings provide early evidence that the assessment does what it was designed to do: measure college readiness.

Latest News

Baker’s Common Core Caution

It’s not just the presidential election that Gov. Charlie Baker plans to sit out.

Baker says he is also staying out of a fight much closer to home: A looming ballot question showdown over whether the state should repeal the Common Core education standards put in place six years ago.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

What Does Common Core Teaching Look Like?

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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.

Latest News

Overshadowed by TNReady, Here’s what the Legislature did on Education this Year

Even as funding and school choice dominated this year’s education debate, Tennessee’s most recent legislative session likely will be remembered for the troubled rollout of the state’s new standardized assessment.

Latest News

The Search for Common-Core Curricula: Where Are Teachers Finding Materials?

In common-core states, nearly all math and language arts teachers are at least somewhat reliant on materials they’ve developed or selected themselves, according to a new nationally representative survey.

Latest News

PARCC Testing Canceled in Some Districts

School districts across the state say they’ve had to cancel PARCC testing today due to technical glitches reported by the company administering the online exams.

The vendor, Pearson, sent an email to school districts Wednesday morning saying it was working “quickly to identify and resolve the issue.”

Latest News

Missouri Education Officials Replace Common Core Standards

Missouri became the latest state to adopt a new set of education benchmarks to replace the national Common Core standards, ditching the benchmarks Tuesday following conservative backlash.

Latest News

Technical Glitches Plague Computer-Based Standardized Tests Nationwide

But the shift to computer-based testing has been riddled with technical glitches that have spanned many testing companies and states, including those that have adopted Common Core and those using other new academic standards. Stressed-out students have found they sometimes can’t log on to their exams or are left to panic when their answers suddenly disappear. Frustrated teachers have had to come up with last-minute lesson plans when testing fails. Some school systems — and even entire states — have had to abandon testing altogether because of Internet hiccups thousands of miles away.

Member Stories

March 31-April 7
What we're reading by EWA members this week

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Eli Francovich of The Spokesman-Review publishes controversial PowerPoint slides of a Spokane Community College criminal justice professor who’s under investigation for discrimination. 

 

Peggy Barmore of The Hechinger Report writes about two new teacher licensing tests that some worry will make the profession even whiter.

 

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

#OptOutSoWhite? More Latino, Black Families Joining Movement

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It’s spring, which means it’s also testing season for schools across the country and time for the annual arguments for and against opting kids out of the end-of-year assessments.

Member Stories

March 24 – March 31
What we're reading by EWA members this week

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Take a look at what Dan Mihalopoulos of the Chicago Sun-Times learned about a charter school network after successfully suing to receive its records.

Annie Martin writes for the Orlando Sentinel that if “your child’s teacher is punished in Orange County because he broke the law or district policies, don’t expect to hear school leaders discuss it or to find that information on the district’s website.”

Latest News

Opinion: How Obama Got Schooled

Barack Obama has not been shy about exercising federal power over the states, in areas ranging from health care to the environment. That’s been especially true in elementary and secondary education, where Washington spent $42 billion last year. Obama has leveraged federal school aid to promote higher standards, school choice, better tests, and more meaningful measures of teacher performance.

Latest News

Is Common Core’s Effect on Achievement Fading?

The common core’s impact on student achievement may have peaked early and already tapered off, according to a new analysis of national test scores by the Brookings Institution’s Brown Center on Education Policy.

Latest News

Opinion: We’ve Seen Quite a Bit of Opt-Out Theatre, Now It’s Time for the Facts

At the Los Angeles Education Writers Association panel, opt-out advocate Bob Schaeffer waved a stack of papers and exclaimed the average student had to take 112 standardized tests during the course of his or her K-12 education.

It was an amusing bit of theater by Schaeffer, public education director at the National Center for Fair & Open Testing, but it was also misleading.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Why Tracking Textbooks Should Matter

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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?

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Common Science Standards Quietly Gain Momentum

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Although the Common Core State Standards have garnered significant attention nationwide, a set of common standards for science is gaining traction but far less public notice so far.

EWA Radio

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

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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?

Latest News

Envisioning Education Policy Under a President Donald Trump

Education advocates and policy analysts are contemplating the possibility of a Donald Trump presidential administration—and, in many cases, having trouble bringing the picture into focus.

With a few exceptions, the real estate developer and front-runner in the Republican race for the White House has steered clear of concrete talk about education policy, instead focusing his campaign on issues such as illegal immigration and international trade. That’s left experts and observers to try to fill in the blanks where they can.

Latest News

Interview With Harvard’s Thomas Kane: Education Research And The Coleman Report : NPR Ed : NPR

Has American education research mostly languished in an echo chamber for much of the last half century?

Harvard’s Thomas Kane thinks so.

Blog: Higher Ed Beat

New Ways to Find Out Who Is Ready for College

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Do tests or high school grades better determine whether a student is ready for college-level math and reading? For public universities and community colleges, increasingly the answer is both – or no tests at all, reporters learned during a seminar hosted by the Education Writers Association in Los Angeles last month.

Latest News

Envisioning Education Policy Under a President Donald Trump

Education advocates and policy analysts are contemplating the possibility of a Donald Trump presidential administration—and, in many cases, having trouble bringing the picture into focus.

With a few exceptions, the real estate developer and front-runner in the Republican race for the White House has steered clear of concrete talk about education policy, instead focusing his campaign on issues such as illegal immigration and international trade. That’s left experts and observers to try to fill in the blanks where they can.

Latest News

Interview with Harvard’s Thomas Kane: Education Research and the Coleman Report

Has American education research mostly languished in an echo chamber for much of the last half century?

Harvard’s Thomas Kane thinks so.

Why have the medical and pharmaceutical industries and Silicon Valley all created clear paths to turn top research into game-changing innovations, he asks, while education research mostly remains trapped in glossy journals?

Latest News

As SAT Enters a New Era This Week, Students Say the Exam Has Improved

But perhaps the most important change to the retooled college admission test that debuts this week for hundreds of thousands of students nationwide lies in its approach to what they learn in high school. The new version of the SAT aims more than ever to measure core skills taught in school, such as reading charts, analyzing evidence and applying algebra in mathematical problems.

Blog: Higher Ed Beat

SAT Makes Bid to Better Serve Poor Kids

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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.

Latest News

U.S. Education Department Throws Its Weight Behind Free Instructional Materials

The avant-garde of educators on social media went aflutter last week as the U.S. Department of Education announced new developments in its effort to assist schools that embark on plans to ditch old-school textbooks.

Emblazoning their social media posts with #GoOpen, teachers, principals, advocacy organizations and trade groups rallied behind what the department described as “high-quality, openly-licensed educational resources” for K-12 schools. Worth noting: These books and materials are free.

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.

Member Stories

February 11 – 18
Here's what we're reading by EWA members

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Digital tools for teachers are aplenty, but many districts offer virtually no training on how to use apps and widgets in the classroom. The private sector is stepping in, writes Meghan E. Murphy for The Hechinger Report.

Sacramento State University, where just 8 percent of freshmen from 2010 had earned degrees by last year, has hired a graduation czar to improve that figure, reports Diana Lambert of The Sacramento Bee. Improved mental health and better software are two of his main tools.”

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.

Member Stories

January 28 – February 4
Featuring some of this week's best stories by EWA members

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After WBUR’s Peter Balonon-Rosen asked a Boston school about why it suspended 68 kindergartners – roughly 11 percent of all early-grade suspensions in Massachusetts – the school banned suspensions for kindergartners.

Laura Isensee reports on the phenomenon of students who excel but experience guilt and shame over their success. It’s particularly prevalent among high-achieving students of color, she notes.

EWA Radio

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

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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

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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

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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.)

Key Coverage

How Business Got Schooled in the War Over Common Core Standards

When Exxon Mobil, GE, Intel, and others pushed for the education standards, they incurred the wrath of Tea Party conservatives and got a painful lesson in modern politics.

[...]

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.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Brazil Explores U.S.-Style Education Policies

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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.

EWA Radio

John Merrow’s 40 Years on the Education Beat
EWA Radio: Episode 50

John Merrow began his journalism career in 1974 with National Public Radio, and retired this summer as special correspondent with PBS Newshour. Along the way he racked up a slew of awards, broke big stories, and created a documentary production company.

EWA Radio

No Digital Revolution for Rural Schools
EWA Radio: Episode 49

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Thousands of the nation’s smaller school districts struggle to get even the most basic Internet services, making it difficult to take advantage of the wealth of classroom technology that’s giving students more options for how, what, and when they learn.

Seminar

College Readiness: What Does It Mean for Higher Ed?

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“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
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Seminar

Teaching & Testing in the Common Core Era

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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.   

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711 S Hope St, Los Angeles, CA 90017
Blog: The Educated Reporter

#EWAElection Tweets: Pre-K-12 Education in the 2016 Race

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Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Univision’s Parent Engagement Tool Breaks Down Barriers

Image of Univision’s Parent Engagement Tool Breaks Down Barriers

Want to know what your child should be learning in kindergarten? Hunting for a list of age-appropriate books? Afraid your daughter is being bullied but don’t know how to ask? 

Head over to Univision’s new bilingual Web-based parent engagement platform, Clave al Éxito (Key to Success) — “a complete guide to your child’s education.”

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

State, Local Election Results Signal Shifts for Ed. Policy

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Kentucky was the first state to adopt the Common Core, but with a new Republican governor elected Tuesday who opposes the standards for English language arts and math, that pioneering legacy could be upended.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

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

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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

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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: Latino Ed Beat

California Latino, Black Student Scores Slide with New Tests

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California supporters of the Common Core had hoped the new standards emphasizing college readiness would help narrow the achievement gap for black and Latino students in the state, but the latest test results show that gap might be even bigger than it was previously thought to be.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

PARCC Test Results Coming Soon, But State Comparisons Limited

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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.

Webinar

The Common Core Test Results Are Coming—Are You Ready?
Reporter-Only Webinar on Assessment Results

The Common Core Test Results Are Coming—Are You Ready?

Many states are rolling out the first round of test scores this fall from brand new assessments pegged to the Common Core standards. Join EWA for a Sept. 10 webinar designed to help reporters better understand what’s coming and how they can report on the data in meaningful ways.

Report

Checking In: Do Classroom Assignments Reflect Today’s Higher Standards?

Nearly every state has adopted new, more rigorous standards for college and career readiness over the past five years. But after many hours of professional development and revised observational protocols, is the rigor of the new standards reaching students? In a new report, The Education Trust responds with “not so much.”

Seminar

69th EWA National Seminar

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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

National Education Polls Tell Two Stories, Impact on Elections Tough to Gauge

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Getting a read on the American public’s views on education is no easy task, made more complicated by just how much local schools vary. In a country with more than 13,000 school districts that enroll nearly 50 million students, a range of experiences and perspectives are to be expected.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

California, Mexico Educators Develop Spanish Common Core Algebra Curriculum

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This summer, native Spanish-speaking immigrant students in Los Angeles participated in a five-week pilot program testing a new algebra curriculum aligned with the Common Core. 

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Back-to-School: Story Ideas That Shine

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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: Latino Ed Beat

Prominent Latino Civil Rights Groups Oppose Test Opt-Out Movement

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Earlier this year, 12 civil and human rights groups signed a petition opposing the test opt-out movement gaining traction across the United States. Two of the 12 were prominent Latino advocacy organizations: National Council of La Raza and the League of United Latin American Citizens.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Tougher Tests May Be New Norm in Common Core Era

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Image of Tougher Tests May Be New Norm in Common Core Era

In an early glimpse of how much tougher state tests could be in the Common Core era, a new federal report released in July shows that early adopters of the controversial standards are assessing their students with a far higher degree of difficulty.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Ohio Drops PARCC Tests – Now What?

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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

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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

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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?

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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?

Image of Too Many Tests?

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

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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.

Webinar

Common Core: Politics Meets Policy
Webinar to Probe Legislative Activity, Policy Shifts on the Standards and Testing

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From state legislatures to the presidential campaign, the Common Core has drawn considerable political attention, and criticism, this year. But what steps have policymakers actually taken to cut ties to the new standards and aligned tests, and what are the practical implications for states and school districts?

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Common Core Testing in Action: How Did It Go?

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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.

Multimedia

Common Core in the Classroom: Teacher Voices
2015 EWA National Seminar

Common Core in the Classroom: Teacher Voices

Teachers from Chicago, New York, and Arizona offer their views on how Common Core State Standards and assessments are playing out in the classroom and how their schools and districts have – and haven’t – changed practice.

Webinar

Common Core Testing: What Reporters Need to Know

Common Core Testing: What Reporters Need to Know

Standardized testing has loomed larger on the education beat this school year than ever before, as most states rolled out new assessments pegged to the Common Core. How did the assessments really go? What’s the state of the testing backlash?

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Wednesday Webinar: A Reporters’ Guide to Common Core Testing

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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

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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

U.S. 8th Graders’ Scores Stagnate on National Civics, History, Geography Tests

Image of U.S. 8th Graders’ Scores Stagnate on National Civics, History, Geography Tests

American eighth graders continue to demonstrate lackluster knowledge and skills when asked basic questions about U.S. history, geography, and civics, with between 18 and 27 percent of students scoring proficient or higher, new data show.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Educators: Common Core Standards ‘Are the Floor’

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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

Image of Ohio and the Common Core

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

Follow-Up Friday: Rolling Stone’s Retraction, Recipe for Common Core Math

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Rolling Stone retracted its story that supposedly detailed a University of Virginia student’s brutal rape by several members of a campus fraternity, and a report by the Columbia University Journalism School called the debacle “a journalistic failure.” 

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Cyber-Attack Derails Common Core Testing in N.J. School District

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A New Jersey school district was all set this week to begin testing students using a brand-new online assessment aligned to the Common Core State Standards.

But unknown hackers who shut down the district’s entire computer network had something else in mind: holding out for a ransom payment in exchange for restoring operations.

Key Coverage

Colleges Not Ready for ‘College Ready’ Common Core

The higher education community doesn’t even agree on a definition of “college ready” — except to acknowledge that it likely means something different at Stanford than it does at Pellissippi State Community College.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Chicago Schools Launch a Latino Studies Curriculum

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Chicago Public Schools has announced the debut of a new interdisciplinary Latino and Latin American Studies curriculum that will be taught to students in kindergarten through 10th grade.

The new curriculum includes complete units and lessons across a range of disciplines, Melissa Sanchez reports for Catalyst Chicago

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Common Core Opponents Turn Up Heat on Testing Front

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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.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Denver Dispatches: Top Tweets From #EWACore

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Multimedia

Common Core in Action
Covering Standards and Testing (Denver Seminar)

Common Core in Action

Educators talk about their on-the-ground experiences with the Common Core standards and the impact on students of applying them in the classroom.

Multimedia

How They Did It: Journalists Share Their Stories
Covering Standards and Testing (Denver Seminar)

How They Did It: Journalists Share Their Stories

Learn more about their strategies for bringing the rollout of the standards to life, from covering debates over textbooks to the special challenges for rural school districts and how to creatively cover the math Common Core.

  • Liana Heitin, Education Week
  • Nate Robson, Oklahoma Watch
  • Steve Drummond, NPR (moderator)
Multimedia

Taking Political Stock of the Common Core
Covering Standards and Testing (Denver 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 do the midterm election results mean for implementation and state support? And what happens in states that have called for a review or even rescinded the standards?

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

Denver Dispatches: Follow Along With #EWACore

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EWA is at the University of Colorado Denver today for the final seminar of our regional series on covering standards and assessments in the era of the Common Core. 

You can follow along on Twitter (hashtag: #EWACore) with top tweets expected from my EWA colleagues: Caroline Hendrie, Erik Robelen, Lori Crouch, and Mikhail Zinshteyn. (And me too, of course!)

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Oklahoma Lawmakers Push Back on Advanced Placement Classes

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Things are getting messy in Oklahoma, where a prolonged battle over the Common Core State Standards has widened to include an effort by lawmakers to block students from participating in Advanced Placement classes. 

Key Coverage

A Map of States’ 2015 Testing Plans: The Dust Has Finally Settled

We’ve finally got a complete answer to the question: What tests are states administering this spring?

Last May, EdWeek asked all states and the District of Columbia to provide details of their testing plans for 2014-15. You might recall that we saw a good deal of fragmentation and uncertainty then. Seventeen states reported plans to use Smarter Balanced, nine states and D.C. said they would be giving PARCC, and 17 had made plans to use tests built by other vendors. Seven hadn’t decided yet what they were doing.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

The (Southern) Politics of The Common Core

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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

Assessing the New Standards: Are Schools and States Ready?

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This spring, schools in most states are preparing for a critical juncture with the Common Core State Standards: Their students will take state tests pegged to the standards for the first time.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

EWA in Denver: Talking Standards, Charters & Choice

 Writing about new academic standards in your state? Join EWA Feb. 26 at the University of Colorado Denver for a seminar on covering assessments in the era of the Common Core State Standards.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

The Common Core: What Educators Say About the Standards

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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

The Education Words President Obama Didn’t Say

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For the policy wonks and advocates hoping for more than a passing mention of K-12 education in President Obama’s State of the Union, it was a long 59 minutes. 

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Top Tweets: EWA Seminar Tackles Testing & Common Core

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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. 

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Hispanic Education Leader Uses Bible to Defend Common Core

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The chair of the Alliance for Hispanic Education dedicated more than 1,000 words to an op-ed Monday explaining why he, as an educator and Christian, supports the Common Core State Standards.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

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

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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

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Mark Your (New) Calendar: EWA’s Upcoming Events

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 As we wrap up a holiday week, a few reminders for your 2015 calendar:

Blog: The Educated Reporter

From the Beat: Memorable Education Stories of 2014

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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.)

Multimedia

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?

Multimedia

How They Did It: Journalists Share Their Stories
Covering Standards and Testing (DC Seminar)

How They Did It: Journalists Share Their Stories

The Hechinger Report and NPR Education are diving deeply into the Common Core. Learn more about their strategies for bringing the rollout of the standards to life, from covering debates over textbooks to the challenge of better preparing teachers and figuring out what makes a good Common Core math problem.

Multimedia

Common Core in Action
Covering Standards and Testing (DC Seminar)

Common Core in Action

Educators talk about their experiences on the ground with the Common Core standards and a researcher shares insights from a study of how new math standards are changing teaching and learning in the classroom.

Multimedia

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)

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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.

Multimedia

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

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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. 

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Talking To Teachers: Story Ideas For Reporters

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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.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

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

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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?

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Tweeting on Testing: EWA Seminar at Stanford

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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’

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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.”

Blog: The Educated Reporter

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.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

How Much Time Do Students Spend Taking Tests?

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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. 

Blog: The Educated Reporter

How Many Tests Do Schools Really Need?

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As the pushback against standardized testing – and the perceived over-usage of it – builds nationally, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute’s Andy Smarick offers a lucid distillation of the debate.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Superintendents: Common Core Can Work, But More Resources Needed

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District superintendents are increasingly confident in the potential of the Common Core State Standards to help improve student learning even as the school leaders question whether there’s enough time and resources for a smooth implementation, a new survey finds.

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

How Do Teachers Feel (Now) About the Common Core?

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In a new survey, teachers say they’re feeling more confident about using the Common Core State Standards in their classrooms — an optimistic finding that comes even as recent polls suggest dwindling public support for the initiative.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Atlanta Cheating Scandal: Are School Testing Stakes Too High?

Image of Atlanta Cheating Scandal: Are School Testing Stakes Too High?

In Atlanta this week, opening arguments are underway in a racketeering trial where prosecutors will argue that public school educators engaged in a massive conspiracy to cheat on high-stakes tests.

From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s coverage of Monday’s opening arguments:

Blog: The Educated Reporter

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

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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.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

In Wake of Pushback, States Rewriting Common Core

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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.

Report

States and the (Not So) New Standards – Where Are They Now?

States began adopting the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in 2010 after they were launched by the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Will Gates-Backed ‘Big History Project’ Win Over Educators?

Image of Will Gates-Backed ‘Big History Project’ Win Over Educators?

The cover story of the New York Times Magazine’s Education Issue is a coveted position, and this week it goes to the Big History Project, an online curriculum backed by Bill Gates that’s expanding into public school classrooms across the country. 

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Five Questions For New York Times Education Reporter Javier Hernandez
On The Common Core, Building Narratives, and Negotiating Access

For an in-depth feature on the Common Core State Standards, New York Times education reporter Javier C. Hernandez told the story through the eyes of a 9-year-old student: Chrispin Alcindor, one of a family of triplets in Brooklyn.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

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.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Poll: Common Core Brand Hurting Public Support For Standards

Image of Poll: Common Core Brand Hurting Public Support For Standards

The Common Core State Standards initiative, arguably the most sweeping change to public education in at least a generation, is facing mounting skepticism – and still drawing many blanks.

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.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Battles Over Teaching History, Then and Now

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A new round of opposition to planned changes in how high schools teach U.S. history is conjuring up its own echoes of the past.

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

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Poll: Support for Common Core Slipping Among California Voters

Image of Poll: Support for Common Core Slipping Among California Voters

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:

Multimedia

Common Core: Angles on Assessment
Six-video playlist

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The third of three sets of videos from our special session on Common Core at the 67th national Seminar.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Common Core a Tainted Brand?

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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.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Louisiana Moves Closer to Dropping Common Core

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Will Louisiana be the fourth state to bow out of the Common Core State Standards? The state’s governor indicated today in a speech that he intends to do just that, but other state leaders are pushing back. The Times-Picayune has the story on what Gov. Bobby Jindal said and the subsequent fallout.

Reporter Guide

State Education Policy

Image of 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

Image of Common Core: Angles on Assessments

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

Image of Common Core: Impact on the Classroom

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

Image of Common Core: Politics, Power and Public Debate

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.

 

Report

Six Reasons to Reject Common Core for Grades K-3
Defending the Early Years

The organization Defending the Early Years has developed a treatise arguing that the Common Core State Standards are not developmentally appropriate for the younger grades of elementary school.

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

Image of Weingarten Talks Teachers, Politics and Common Core

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

Image of Tennessee’s Haslam Aims for Mantle of Education Governor

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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The Future of Assessment in the Digital Ocean

The Future of Assessment in the Digital Ocean

Kristen DiCerbo of GlassLab/Pearson, talks about using digital tools to build better 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: 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: Politics & Public Debate
Five-video playlist

Political backlash against the Common Core State Standards and assessments appears to be mounting. These five speakers examine the history of the standards; explore why people should be skeptical; profile two state experiences, and offer an examination of left and right political perspectives about the Common Core.

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Randi Weingarten on Testing and Common Core

Randi Weingarten on Testing and Common Core

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, talks about teacher frustrations with Common Core implementation.

Recorded May 19, 2014 at EWA’s 67th National Seminar.

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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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Common Core: The Power of Purpose

Common Core: The Power of Purpose

Georgia Teacher of the Year Jemelleh Coes talks about answering the age-old question, “When will I use this?” in the context of 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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The Scenario: How Educators Can Do So Much Better

The Scenario: How Educators Can Do So Much Better

NYC math teacher Jose Vilson talks — and raps — about his experiences implementing Common Core in his classroom.

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: Teachers Need Support, Not Sympathy

Common Core: Teachers Need Support, Not Sympathy

Sandra Albert of Student Achievement Partners offers ideas for teacher-focused stories on Common Core implementation.

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: Why Implementation Requires Change

Common Core: Why Implementation Requires Change

William Schmidt of Michigan State University discusses four key areas he believes need to change as the Common Core math standards are implemented.

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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Spring Training: Working on the Fundamentals

Spring Training: Working on the Fundamentals

Amber Northern of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute talks about her research into Common Core implementation.

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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Keep the Core, Change the Course

Keep the Core, Change the Course

Dennis Van Roekel of the National Education Association advocates for testing and teacher evaluation reform to accompany the implementation of 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: From F to Fastest in Tennessee

Common Core: From F to Fastest in Tennessee

Jamie Woodson, President and CEO of SCORE, talks about Tennessee’s experience with Common Core implementation and the state’s gains in NAEP scores.

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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Kentucky’s Common Core Lore

Kentucky’s Common Core Lore

Terry Holliday, Kentucky’s Commissioner of Education, talks about the state’s experience implementing the Common Core State Standards.

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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Why We Should Be Skeptical of the Common Core

Why We Should Be Skeptical of the Common Core

Tom Loveless of the Brookings Institution outlines some of his research related to the Common Core State Standards. 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 Real Story Behind the Common Core

The Real Story Behind the Common Core

Michael Cohen of Achieve talks about some of the big misconceptions behind the Common Core State Standards.

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: Impact on the Classroom
Seven-video playlist

Image of Common Core: Impact on the Classroom

The second of three sets of videos from our special Common Core session at the 67th National Seminar.

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Common Core: Realities of the Rollout

Image of 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

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Public Schools in the Crosshairs: Far-Right Propaganda and the Common Core State Standards
Southern Poverty Law Center

“Across the United States, a fierce wave of resistance is engulfing the Common Core State Standards, threatening to derail this ambitious effort to lift student achievement and, more fundamentally, to undermine the very idea of public education.”

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.  

Key Coverage

Common Core 101: A Primer To Separate Education Fact From Fiction

If Common Core leaves you confused, you’re not alone.The academic standards were adopted by most states with little fanfare, but have generated much controversy of late.

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Redesigning and Expanding School Time to Support Common Core Implementation

The report, a joint effort of the National Center on Time and Learning and the Center for American Progress, looks at how high-performing expanded-time schools give teachers more time for ongoing professional development and collaboration needed to implement the Common Core standards.

The report includes recommendations for policymakers and educators. 

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Assessing Common Core: What’s At Stake?

Assessing Common Core: What’s At Stake?

What do officials of the two large-scale testing consortia — Smarter Balanced and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers — see for the future?

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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.

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Covering Common Core: How I Did the Story

Covering Common Core: How I Did the Story

Reporters describe their coverage of Common Core and ways to look at the rollout in lively and interesting ways.

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Putting Common Core in Context: Why it Matters

Putting Common Core in Context: Why it Matters

A key impetus or the Common Core State Standards has been American students’ standing in the world. The authors of two recent books on countries that fare well in international comparisons place the current U.S. initiative in its global context.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

For Critics, the Common Core English Standards is Anything But Novel

Image of For Critics, the Common Core English Standards is Anything But Novel

For months, education experts critical of the Common Core have sounded the alarm over the standards’ push to feature more non-fiction reading at the expense—say detractors—of poetry and literature.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

State of the Union: What Education Analysts Expect to Hear

Image of State of the Union: What Education Analysts Expect to Hear

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.

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Recap: Common Core at the Crossroads

Image of 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.

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