Common Core

Overview

Common Core
The Push for Common Standards

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

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

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

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

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

The biggest shift so far has been on the Common Core assessment front. The early vision of a uniform system 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” 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

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.

Latest News

School District ‘Bitcoin Hostage’ Situation Continues

The New Jersey school district whose entire computer network was being “held hostage” for bitcoins and being forced to postpone the PARCC examsis still compromised Tuesday afternoon.

Technicians at the Swedesboro-Woolwich School District, which is home to four elementary schools in Gloucester County, discovered that its entire network was down Saturday morning when they received a ransom message asking for 500 bitcoins — an online currency popular in underground markets. 

Latest News

Arizona Governor Seeks Review of Common Core Education Standards

Gov. Doug Ducey of Arizona, a critic of the Common Core, urged state education officials on Monday to re-evaluate those standards, adopted by the state and meant to guide what students learn from kindergarten through graduation. He said he saw them as an example of the federal government overstepping its bounds.

Latest News

Common Core Means 3 Tests In 3 Years For Michigan Kids

Partisan bickering over the Common Core has pushed Michigan legislators in recent years to freeze — then unfreeze — spending on the new learning standards. They’ve banished the new exam that education officials had been planning to introduce this year and forced the creation of a second new test for 2015 — and a third one for 2016.

Latest News

States Prepare Public for Common Core Test Results

Even as states begin administering new tests aligned with the Common Core State Standards, they are ramping up efforts to eliminate or minimize public backlash when the scores—widely expected to be markedly lower than results from previous assessments—are released later this year.

Latest News

After Day 1 Of Common Core Testing, Results Show Just How Many Louisiana Students Skipped

Concerns that large numbers of Louisiana public school students would skip the Common Core standardized tests appear unfounded, with the state’s education superintendent saying 99 percent showed up Monday for the opening day of exams.

Some parents who oppose the education standards have sought to keep their children from taking the tests, and education officials are watching closely to determine if an anti-Common Core “opt-out” movement skews exam results for schools and districts.

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.

Latest News

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.

Latest News

Education Secretary Arne Duncan Wades Through Anti-testing Protesters At Chicago Event

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan arrived at a South Side elementary school Thursday morning for an event — but his driver took a wrong turn down a dead-end alley, and Duncan was forced to walk half a block to the school amid protesters who’d been waiting for him to complain about standardized testing. About 50 parents and children stood outside Ariel Community Academy so they could deliver their message to him about their opposition to the PARCC test.

Latest News

Glitches, Cyberattacks Deal Blow to Credibility of Florida’s New School Tests

The debut of new standardized computer testing in Florida has proved anything but standard for the state’s eighth-, ninth- and 10th-graders. Florida officials say cyberattacks caused some school testing problems First came server problems caused by the state’s vendor, American Institutes for Research. Then, according to officials, a cyberattack known as a “distributed denial of service,” or DDOS, struck the system, and law enforcement is investigating.

Latest News

Governor Hopes Under New Plan, No School Is Left Behind

Next month, Nevada students will set aside their pens and paper to take an online test officials say will give administrators an unprecedented look at how well students are doing in reading and math.

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

Latest News

How a Missouri Ruling Might Steer Common Core Across The U.S.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Opponents of Common Core have another tool to chip away at the embattled national education standards: a recent Missouri court ruling said the state’s membership in a group that creates the curriculum’s tests is unlawful.

Latest News

Two Colorado colleges move toward making PARCC results count

A pair of Colorado colleges have announced they will evaluate the use of scores on PARCC language arts and math exams as a way to determine whether students are ready to take college courses._Adams State University in Alamosa, a part of the state system, will allow students to use PARCC scores to demonstrate readiness, with scores of 4 or 5 signifying eligibility to enroll in college course for credit.

Latest News

Opponents of Common Core Open New Fronts In Battle Against Standards After a Series of Defeats

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 have 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.

Latest News

Schools On U.s. Military Bases Are Adopting Common Core — But Don’t Call It That

Children of military families often move between regular public schools and those in the DoDEA (pronounced “doe-dee-ah”) system, changing schools as many as six times over the course of their academic careers. Nearly 1.2 million school-aged children have a parent serving as an active-duty member of the U.S. Armed Forces, and the vast majority are enrolled in U.S. public schools.

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.

Latest News

Most Math Curricula Found to Be Out of Sync With Common Core

The first round of a Consumer Reports-style review for instructional materials paints a dismal picture of the textbook-publishing industry’s response to new standards: Seventeen of 20 math series reviewed were judged as failing to live up to claims that they are aligned to the common core.

Latest News

Chicago Reverses, Will Require Controversial Test

Faced with the loss of millions of dollars in funding, Chicago Public Schools on Monday said it has dropped plans to spurn a controversial standardized test, a decision quickly followed by calls from the teachers union and an influential parents group for students to boycott the exam.

State officials have said districts can develop policies to handle students who refuse the test, but that if too many students opt out, the state could face sanctions from the federal government and in turn penalize districts.

Latest News

Is the Common Core Here to Stay? Takeaways From a Discussion of Standards, Opposition, Test Opt-Outs

The Common Core needs to avoid an internet catastrophe with its new tests for the country to embrace the new multi-state education standards, a panel of experts agreed Thursday,  It will need to survive the release of low test scores in late summer, just as Republican Presidential debates begin. And it will have to overcome ongoing “misinformation” – as supporters call it – before the public will fully accept it.

Latest News

“Opt-out” Movement: Just Say No to New Colo. Assessments

Backlash against standardized testing has strengthened a grassroots movement promoting the rights of parents to hold their children out of new assessments designed to measure readiness for college and career.

Latest News

Educator’s Refusal to Give PARCC Called Into Question by District

Last fall, a suburban Denver public schools educator  took to her blog and addressed a manifesto of sorts to the “citizens of Colorado.” “I am writing to let you know that I will be refusing to administer the PARCC in the 2014-15 school year,” Robertson wrote, referring to new math and English tests debuting in Colorado schools this week.

Latest News

As Common Core Testing Is Ushered In, Parents and Students Opt Out

A new wave of standardized exams, designed to assess whether students are learning in step with the Common Core standards, is sweeping the country, arriving this week in classrooms in several states and entering the cross hairs of various political movements. In New Jersey and elsewhere, the arrival has been marked with well-organized opposition, a spate of television attack ads and a cascade of parental anxiety.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Denver Dispatches: Top Tweets From #EWACore

Image of Denver Dispatches: Top Tweets From #EWACore
Latest News

Unable to Repeal Common Core, Foes Try Sabotage

The red-meat speeches at this week’s Conservative Political Action Conference are likely to thunder with calls to repeal the Common Core. But out in the trenches, conservative lawmakers in state after state are running into difficulty rounding up votes to revoke the academic standards outright. So, aided at times by unlikely allies in the teachers unions, Republican lawmakers are trying a new tactic: sabotaging, in incremental steps, the academic guidelines and the new Common Core exams rolling out this spring.

Latest News

Judge Blocks Missouri’s Common Core Payments to Consortium

Missouri government cannot make any payments to the California-based Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) because it is “an unlawful interstate compact to which the U.S. Congress has never consented,” Cole County Circuit Judge Dan Green ruled Tuesday. The ruling is a victory for opponents of the Common Core education standards, who challenged the financial process used to coordinate the standards among the states.

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!)

Latest News

Poll: Widespread Misperceptions About the Common Core Standards

Many Americans are confused about the Common Core State Standards, according to a new poll that finds widespread misperceptions that the academic standards — which cover only math and reading — extend to topics such as sex education, evolution, global warming and the American Revolution.

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. 

Latest News

About 100,000 Ohio Kids Have Tried the New Common Core Exams This Week, with Mixed Reviews

About 100,000 students have started taking new online Common Core exams so far in Ohio, with more taking them with pencil and paper this first week. Districts have reported some technical issues and frustrations. Reaction has ranged from anger to just accepting them as glitches that come with any new test.

Latest News

States Ceding Power Over Classroom Materials

States are increasingly giving up a long-standing source of their power over education by allowing school districts to choose the instructional materials they use in the classroom.

The shift in authority has taken shape little by little, mostly in the past four years, as one state after another has modified or thrown out its procedures for adopting textbooks and other kinds of print and online learning resources.

Latest News

New Computerized Tests Debut This Week, Starting In Ohio

Sixth-grader Kayla Hunter considers herself pretty tech savvy. She has a computer at home unlike about half her classmates at her elementary school. And it matches up well with the one she’ll use this week to take a new test linked to the Common Core standards.

Still, the perky 11-year-old worries. During a recent practice exam at her school in Ohio, she couldn’t even log on. “It wouldn’t let me,” she said. “It kept saying it wasn’t right, and it just kept loading the whole time.” 

Latest News

Before Common Core: Jeb Bush’s 2005 Emails Show His Thinking on Standards

As he mulls a White House bid, Bush has also released thousands of emails he and his staff sent and received during his time as governor, ostensibly in an attempt to demonstrate his transparency. (Media reports quickly pointed out that the emails revealed private and sensitive information such as Social Security numbers—Bush quickly responded by saying such information would be scrubbed.) 

Latest News

Tennessee Superintendents Defend Common Core

A majority of superintendents statewide are asking legislators to “stay on the right path” by steering clear of taking actions on Tennessee’s Common Core academic standards this legislative session.

The Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents presented a letter to lawmakers Tuesday morning signed by 114 of the 140 state superintendents. They’re asking legislators not to change the controversial academic standards this session in order to wait for the completion of a state review process.

Latest News

With Common Core Testing, You Get What You Pay For

This spring, millions of kids around the country will take a whole new kind of computer-based test aligned to the Common Core state standards. They’ll be able to use online tools like highlighters and calculators. They’ll be asked to “drag and drop” their answers into boxes and to respond to video. That kind of test is more expensive.

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.

Latest News

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.)

Latest News

Should GED Lead to a Diploma? District Considers Changing Policy to Help Outcomes

The graduates wore royal blue and white robes. The principal talked about “closing one chapter and beginning another.” Students got awards. Parents cried.

Thursday night’s ceremony was like those at most high schools, with one exception: The piece of paper inside the gold-embossed folders school leaders handed to students at the end.

Latest News

Worried Common Core is pushing fiction out?

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – No, Lev Fruchter isn’t an English teacher. The 17-year veteran of New York City public schools teaches computer science at NEST+m, a school for gifted and talented students on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

But most of his coding lessons focus on novels and short stories, and not only those chapters on whale anatomy in “Moby Dick.” He incorporates science fiction, but also classical literature and fables to show his students how computers work and even help them master HTML.

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. 

Latest News

Cost Of Common Core Tests Millions More Than Expected

The cost of testing Wisconsin students over the next two years will be at least $7.2 million more than originally estimated, state documents show.

The increased price tag comes at a time when states are preparing their students for new tests aligned to the Common Core State Standards and an effort by local GOP lawmakers to diminish the standards and offer schools a way to opt out of taking the tests picked by the state.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Top Tweets: EWA Seminar Tackles Testing & Common Core

Image of Top Tweets: EWA Seminar Tackles Testing & Common Core

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. 

Latest News

North Carolina Rethinks The Common Core

It’s shaping up to be an interesting year for the Common Core, barely five years after 45 governors embraced it. A few states have already repealed the new math and reading standards. Others are pushing ahead with new tests, curriculum and teaching methods aligned to the Core.

And in some states, its future hangs in the balance. North Carolina is one of them.

Latest News

Former Gov. Bev Perdue, Lt. Gov. Dan Forest Talk Common Core

Against the backdrop of the national debates over the Common Core standards, former Gov. Bev Perdue and Lt. Gov. Dan Forest appeared together at a seminar for reporters Monday sponsored by the Education Writers Association.

Latest News

L.A. School Technology Programs Poorly Planned, Federal Report Says

The U.S. Department of Education has issued a damning report on the Los Angeles Unified School District’s management of its key technology initiatives, pointing out that school officials still cannot say if their $1.3 billion iPad program is improving learning. Richard Cullata, director of the department’s Office of Educational Technology, recommended in the report that the district use “student academic performance, attendance, amount of discipline problems, parental engagement, teacher time, access to expertise” to gauge effectiveness of the tablet devices.

Latest News

Louisiana’s Common Core Debacle

Today, Louisiana’s Education Superintendent John White, once called “Jindal’s boy” by political insiders, is the Governor Bobby Jindal’s most celebrated public enemy, and a statewide education reform initiative years in the making may end up falling by the wayside, adding chaos and confusion to Louisiana’s already beleaguered school system.

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

Latest News

Surveying the Common-Core Chatter: How Will the Standards Fare in 2015?

If you’re closely watching how the Common Core State Standards fare in states this year, there’s been plenty of coverage and commentary about the standards for you to enjoy at the start of 2015.

Discussions about the fate of the English/language arts and math standards have in some cases begun to resemble those around the stock market: Was last year’s turbulence around the common core a small market correction that will leave its long-term trajectory largely unharmed?

Latest News

Teachers to the Test

A major backlash ha erupted across the country over the last year against both teacher evaluations and the Common Core—an uproar that’s become mainstream, extending beyond the realm of teachers and administrators. The outcry has fueled legislation in some states, as well as multiple lawsuits aimed at dialing back the new policies.

Latest News

Is The New GED Test An Educational Improvement Or Setback?

The GED, or General Educational Development diploma, has long been an important high school equivalency credential for those hoping to make up for lost time and lost opportunity.

In a typical year, about half-a-million people pass the exam. But the GED test is changing to meet new academic standards known as Common Core. As a result, fewer people are taking and passing a test that has become more rigorous and expensive. In states like Wisconsin and Rhode Island, the number of those who passed dropped more than 90 percent. In Florida, the number of test takers fell about half.

Latest News

Students at Struggling Drew Middle School Learn Skill Through Debate

For years, Charles Drew Middle School in South Los Angeles was so notorious for poor quality and unruly students that it was tagged “Drew Zoo.”

Latest News

Six Education Stories To Watch in 2015

As the senior member of the NPR Ed team with 25 years on the education beat, here are the top stories that my expert sources and I believe will be ones to watch in 2015. 

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.)

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

Making Sense of the Evolving Assessment Landscape

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

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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.

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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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Taking Political Stock of the Common Core

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

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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: Ed Beat

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

Image of Tweeting on Testing: EWA Seminar at Stanford

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: Ed Beat

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

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

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

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

Report

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

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

Report

U.S. Teachers Offer Split Decision on Common Core

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

Blog: Ed Beat

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: Ed Beat

How Much Time Do Students Spend Taking Tests?

Image of How Much Time Do Students Spend Taking Tests?

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

Report

Testing Overload in America’s Schools
Center for American Progress

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

Blog: The Educated Reporter

How Many Tests Do Schools Really Need?

Image of How Many Tests Do Schools Really Need?

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

Image of Superintendents: Common Core Can Work, But More Resources Needed

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?

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

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

Image of Five Questions For… NCEE’s Marc Tucker

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

Blog: Ed Beat

In Wake of Pushback, States Rewriting Common Core

Image of In Wake of Pushback, States Rewriting Common Core

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. 

Key Coverage

Teachers Embrace the Common Core

Even many teachers typically resistant to change have been open to the Common Core in Washoe County, [Nevada,] says [district literacy coordinator] Torrey Palmer.

She thinks it has a lot to do with the fact that the [school district's] Core Task Project has been teacher led. “It gives teachers a voice,” says Palmer. “This is not something that’s being done to them. They want to do this.”

Key Coverage

Los Angeles Schools iPad Project: How It Started … Before the Bidding Began

Deasy also personally pitched Apple on working with Pearson, according to the emails.

Those meetings and conversations began nearly a year before L.A. Unified put the project out to public bid. Apple and Pearson won the contract on June 24, 2013, after committees made up of school district staff members picked them from among 19 bids.

Deasy and other school district officials have declined KPCC’s requests for comment.

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: Ed Beat

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: Ed Beat

Battles Over Teaching History, Then and Now

Image of Battles Over Teaching History, Then and Now

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: Ed Beat

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:

Video

Common Core: Angles on Assessment
Six-video playlist

Image of Common Core: Angles on Assessment

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

Blog: Ed Beat

Common Core a Tainted Brand?

Image of Common Core a Tainted Brand?

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: Ed Beat

Louisiana Moves Closer to Dropping Common Core

Image of Louisiana Moves Closer to Dropping Common Core

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.

EWA Publication

Reporter Guide: State Education Policy

Image of Reporter Guide: State Education Policy

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

Key Coverage

National Landscape Fragments as States Plan Common-Core Testing

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

Key Coverage

How Bill Gates Pulled Off The Swift Common Core Revolution

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

Key Coverage

The Common Core Curriculum Void

 If you change standards, you’ve got to change curriculum too. And that’s the challenge right now with the Common Core. Because most states have made big changes to their standards, forcing districts and schools to do the same to their curricula.

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: Ed Beat

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.”

Key Coverage

Math Books Claim To Cover Common Core But Don’t, Says Prof

Speakers at a variety of sessions have passionately dissected the pros and cons of the new set of learning standards, which Washington and 43 other states have agreed to use.

On one end of the spectrum, Dennis Van Roekel, president of the National Education Association, predicted the Common Core’s demise, while at the other, Jemelleh Coes, Georgia’s teacher of the year, said it would absolutely improve student achievement.

Video

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.

Video

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.

Video

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.

Video

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.

Video

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.

Video

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.

Video

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.

Video

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.

Video

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.

Video

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.

Video

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.

Video

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.

Video

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.

Video

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.

Video

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.

Video

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.

Video

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. 

Video

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.

Video

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.

Video

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.

 

Video

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.

Video

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.

Video

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.

Video

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

Report

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 Tests Are In Classrooms – And They’re Actually Working

This spring, millions of children nationwide are testing out a test. About 4 million students in 35 states are taking exams based on the new Common Core education standards. It’s a dress rehearsal for the full release next year of two new tests designed to measure how well students are meeting the tougher standards.

In state after state, education officials say the same thing: There have been forgotten passwords, frozen computers, or discrepancies in how different browsers handle the test. On the whole, though: so far, so good.

Key Coverage

An Education Reporter Puts Himself To The (Standardized) Test

NPR reporter Cory Turner confesses his dread of standardized tests and then takes one of the new Common Core assessments. He describes the experience.

Key Coverage

Common Core Has Students Writing — On Just About Every Subject

Much to the delight of writing enthusiasts, the curriculum standards known as the Common Core stress the importance of students’ putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) across all subject areas.

The standards also specify that students — even those in the youngest grades — should cite evidence from readings as they write, and not just invent stories or opine based on prior knowledge.

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. 

Key Coverage

The Half-day Kindergarten Time Crunch

About 75 percent of kindergartners nationwide are enrolled in full-day programs, three times the rate of a few decades ago, as many school districts have come to view kindergarten as an academic starting point, rather than a practicing ground for the rhythms and routines of school. But that leaves about a million students for whom kindergarten still lasts just a few hours a day.

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

Study: Despite Claims, Many Textbooks Not Aligned To Common Core

To sell children on math, textbooks sometimes have colorful fictions on their covers. Iguanas look through kaleidoscopes. Skunks swing baseball bats. Rabbits float away after clutching a few too many balloons.

Now, there’s concern that a darker unreality is on the cover of textbooks in order to sell the books to adults: seals that say the texts are aligned to the new Common Core standards.

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.

Report

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. 

Video

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?

Video

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)

Video

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.

Video

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.

Video

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: Ed Beat

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

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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

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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.

Event

Recap: Common Core at the Crossroads

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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.

EWA Publication

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.

Podcast

Opportunities and Risks: Practical Issues with the Common Core Rollout

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

Podcast

Assessing Common Core: What’s at Stake?

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

Podcast

Putting Common Core in Context: Why it Matters

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

Report

Standardized Testing and the Common Core Standards: You Get What You Pay For?

Eighty-five percent of American students attend school in a state that has adopted the Common Core State Standards. As these states transition from adoption to implementation of the new standards, many are grappling with how best to assess whether students are learning the material contained in the Common Core.

Webinar

Common Core Coverage: Lessons From a Deep Dive

The new Common Core State Standards, fully adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia, are poised to remake K-12 schooling from Massachusetts to California.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Guest Post: Sunlight as Disinfectant – Why the Common Core Deserves a Loud and Untidy Debate

The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, nonpartisan education-news outlet affiliated with Teachers College, Columbia University, sent reporters across the country to take a closer look at the new Common Core State Standards.

Key Coverage

EWA/Hechinger Report Common Core Project: Stories From Around the U.S.

Image of EWA/Hechinger Report Common Core Project: Stories From Around the U.S.

The new Common Core State Standards, fully adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia, are poised to remake the business of schooling from Massachusetts to California.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Common Core State Standards: The Hechinger Report Digs Deep

The new Common Core State Standards, adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia, are poised to remake the business of schooling in the United States. While the education initiative started with a wealth of bipartisan goodwill, it has now engendered confusion and controversy, and a handful of states have dropped out or scaled back their participation. What will the new expectations really mean for how teachers teach, and students learn? And will states – and the public – have the patience to ride out the bumpy road of implementation?

Organization

Achieve

Achieve was founded in 1996 by a group of governors and business leaders. Since that time, it “has developed a range of advocacy resources that aim to address common concerns with college and career readiness.” Achieve partnered with the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers on the development the Common Core State Standards.

Organization

The American Federation of Teachers

The American Federation of Teachers, with more than 1.5 million members, is one of the country’s two largest teachers’ unions. The organization was founded in 1916 and is affiliated with the AFL-CIO.

Organization

The Council of Chief State School Officers

The Council of Chief State School Officers is “a nonpartisan, nationwide, nonprofit organization of public officials who head departments of elementary and secondary education in the states, the District of Columbia, the Department of Defense Education Activity, and five U.S. extra-state jurisdictions,” according to the group.

Organization

The National Center for Fair & Open Testing

The National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest) is an advocacy group that is a strong critic of standardized testing practices that it sees as flawed or misguided. 

Organization

National Governors Association

The National Governors Association is a bipartisan organization that enables its members to share best practices and offers them a collective voice in shaping national policy.

Organization

PARCC Assessment Design

PARCC Assessment Design is the website for the other consortium responsible for designing the assessments Common Core states will use, Partnership for Assessment of Readiness and College and Careers (PARCC). 

Organization

The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC)

The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) is designing the assessments to be used by roughly half of the Common Core states. This primer offers a thorough outline of SBAC’s stated goals, organizational structure, and assessment details

Organization

The Thomas B. Fordham Institute

The Thomas B. Fordham Institute is a right-leaning think tank focused on education policy. According to its mission statement, the institute aims to advance “educational excellence for every child through quality research, analysis, and commentary, as well as on-the-ground action and advocacy in Ohio.”

Webinar

Keeping Up With Common Core: Will Learning Soar or Stall?

News coverage of the process and politics surrounding the Common Core State Standards has become relatively plentiful. But less attention has been paid to the longer-lasting instructional changes that are already affecting students and teachers. To address that gap, EWA hosted this event with top experts on the shifts in math and literacy instruction that the standards are designed to bring about. Consider this your intro class to the new Common Core content.

Blog: Ed Beat

Keeping Up With Common Core: Will Learning Soar or Stall?

Is it better to teach fractions to elementary school students using a cut-up pie or a number line?

As 45 states plus the District of Columbia roll out the new Common Core State Standards in mathematics and English, teachers, parents, students and reporters will encounter a new set of practices many scholars say are necessary to improve K-12 learning across the country.

These common signposts are expected to greatly alter the education landscape.

Webinar

Q&A with Arne Duncan
37 minutes

Across the country, tens of millions of students are back in class for a new school year. But while the ritual of hitting the books is the same, changes are occurring in everything from K-12 curricula to how college students earn their degrees. If you’re writing about these shifts in our nation’s schools and universities, this free, journalists-only event will give you better context for your coverage.

Panelists:

  • Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education
  • Emily Richmond, EWA Public Editor (Moderator)
Podcast

Ready or Not: Common Core Assessments

By 2014, it is expected that assessments based on the Common Core State Standards will be widespread across the country. What are the obstacles, opportunities and implications? Do schools have the needed technological capacity? How will states implement “cut scores”? Can the tests measuring “deep learning”? How high-stakes should they be?

Event

Finding Common Ground: Common Core and ELLs
What Common Core Standards Mean for English Language Learners

Several urban districts and some states are quickly translating Common Core proficiencies into new teaching practices and more complex classroom activities. This represents a sharp departure from the “basic skills” drilling experienced by many English-language learners under high-stakes accountability policies.

Video

Finding Common Ground: How is the Common Core Hoping to Alter Teaching Practices, Student Thinking and Tests?

Finding Common Ground: How is the Common Core Hoping to Alter Teaching Practices, Student Thinking and Tests?

A collaboration between EWA and the New Journalism on Latino Children program, this panel focuses on the large practical and pedagogical shifts that will have to occur in order to implement Common Core on a systemic basis.

Video

Finding Common Ground: Common Core in the Classroom

Finding Common Ground: Common Core in the Classroom

A collaboration between EWA and the New Journalism on Latino Children program, this panel focuses on new strategies and philosophies for teachers in the classroom.

Video

Finding Common Ground: What’s Your District Doing to Get Teachers Ready?

Finding Common Ground: What’s Your District Doing to Get Teachers Ready?

A collaboration between EWA and the New Journalism on Latino Children project, this panel surveys superintendents from California school districts to see how they are bringing Common Core standards into the classroom.

EWA Publication

Story Lab: Common Core and ELLs

More than 70,000 English language learners attended the Miami-Dade County Public Schools last year–making up one of the largest ELL student populations in the nation.

Video

What’s In Store for Common Core?

What’s In Store for Common Core?

Forty-six states plus the District of Columbia have pledged to use the Common Core standards, and all but five states are involved in collaborative efforts to develop related assessments. Yet while supporters see Common Core as a watershed, much needs to go right for the initiative to bear fruit. What are the key questions journalists need to ask?

Moderator: Fawn Johnson, correspondent for National Journal

Key Coverage

Opposition to Common Core Standards Defies Political Lines

A growing movement of national resistance to the common core threatens to derail a movement that many Wisconsin education leaders say is a big step forward for the state. 

Blog: The Educated Reporter

When It Comes to Schooling, Are You a ‘Jeffersonian’ Or An ‘Expressionist?’

A conservative think tank is offering an online quiz to help parents identify their educational priorities – and to demonstrate that diverse groups have more in common in their expectations for schools and students than many people might think.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Gallup Poll Finds More Confusion Over Common Core

Gallup Poll Finds More Confusion Over Common Core

I spoke with Bill Bushaw, executive director of Phi Delta Kappa, about the new PDK/Gallup poll findings.

Key Coverage

Tea Party Groups Mobilizing Against Common Core Education Overhaul

Tea party groups over the past few weeks have suddenly and successfully pressured Republican governors to reassess their support for a rare bipartisan initiative backed by President Obama to overhaul the nation’s public schools.

Key Coverage

Some States Push Back Against New School Standards

Some states are pushing back against a set of uniform benchmarks for reading, writing and math that have been fully adopted in most states and are being widely put in place this school year.

Key Coverage

Top Ten Takeaways: Common Assessments

Takeaways from three-part series of interviews on the nation’s move to Common Core-aligned assessments.

Key Coverage

Education Reform’s Next Big Thing: Common Core Standards Ramp Up

Common Core standards are aimed at building students’ critical thinking skills, and 46 states have adopted them. But critics say the methods are unproven and the education reform is moving too fast. 

Key Coverage

Common Core Supporters Firing Back

Supporters of the Common Core State Standards are moving to confront increasingly high-profile opposition to the standards at the state and national levels by rallying the private sector and initiating coordinated public relations and advertising campaigns as schools continue implementation.

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