Common Core

Overview

Common Core
The Push for Common Standards

For the past decade or more, U.S. political and corporate leaders have been making the case that American workers need a more sophisticated set of skills to keep pace with an increasingly knowledge-based global economy. According to a 2010 Georgetown University study, more than 60 percent of U.S. job openings in 2018 will require at least some college education. To earn those credentials, experts say, more students will need to complete high school with a deeper understanding of the subjects they study.

For the past decade or more, U.S. political and corporate leaders have been making the case that American workers need a more sophisticated set of skills to keep pace with an increasingly knowledge-based global economy. According to a 2010 Georgetown University study, more than 60 percent of U.S. job openings in 2018 will require at least some college education. To earn those credentials, experts say, more students will need to complete high school with a deeper understanding of the subjects they study.

Enter Common Core, formally known as the Common Core State Standards Initiative. Announced in 2009, the initiative aims to prepare students for the 21st-century labor force by erecting instructional signposts that guide them toward graduating from high school ready for college and careers. The project is two-fold, involving academic standards drafted by subject-matter experts as well as assessments that measure how well students have mastered the standards.

Among the factors seen as lending momentum to the common standards movement is the wide variation in expectations and performance among states. Another factor is the lackluster performance by U.S. students on international assessments – particularly the Program of International Student Assessment (PISA) and Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) – fueling concerns about U.S. students’ preparation to compete in a global economy.

While originally 46 states plus the District of Columbia signed on to implement the Common Core state standards – which aim to spell out what students should know and be able to do in reading and mathematics from grades kindergarten to 12 – five states have passed laws either banning the use of the standards in their public classrooms or ordering education leaders to consider new ones.

In late March 2014, Indiana became the first state to have formally dropped the standards after adopting them in 2010 through a pullout bill Gov. Mike Pence signed into law. South Carolina’s governor signed a bill ending the state’s use of Common Core in June 2014, taking effect for 2015-16 school year. Also in June 2014, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin signed legislation repealing that state’s adoption of the standards; the move came six months after a national speech in which she stood behind the standards. Missouri and North Carolina passed laws in July that order the states to adopt new standards. Many education analysts will watch to see if these states will produce new standards that nonetheless closely resemble the Common Core. Minnesota is the only Common Core state to have adopted just one of the subjects — English Language Arts; the state elected to use its own math standards. 

Development of the Common Core State Standards was spearheaded by the National Governors Association, the Council of Chief State School Officers and the nonprofit group Achieve, using private grant funding. Under the initiative, groups organized to develop standards in mathematics and English language arts, as well as standards for literacy in the sciences and social studies.

Two interstate consortia are creating related assessments, which are slated to be fully implemented in 2014-15 with math and English language arts components for grade 3 through high school. Those consortia are the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC), managed by WestEd. The process of building the assessments was funded through $360 million from the U.S. Department of Education with money from the federal economic-stimulus act of 2009. Each consortia has a state fiscal agent, as well.

PARCC operates out of Maryland (Florida relinquished its fiscal agent role in the summer of 2013), while SBAC is nested in Washington state’s Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. Each consortium needed at least 15 member states to receive the initial federal dollars, though it’s unclear what the Department of Education would do if a consortium fell below 15 states now that the money has been awarded. 

A separate effort is underway to develop science standards for the nation’s schools. In addition to Achieve, that initiative involves the National Academy of Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the National Science Teachers Association. As of March 2013, 26 states had signed on to use the new instructional roadmaps, known as the Next Generation Science Standards

Among the designers’ chief goals is to integrate science education so that students understand how each subject relates to the other. The new standards come amid concerns that science has received short shrift in American schools in recent years. According to a 2009 Center on Education Policy report, half of all districts had cut elementary science instruction by 75 minutes a week or more since the No Child Left Behind was enacted.

(For more information on the Next Generation Science Standards, see our Topics page on STEM education.)

Backers of the Common Core have taken pains to stress that the standards were developed by states, not the federal government. Some political groups argue otherwise, however. They point to the federal government’s seed money for the Common Core assessments and various U.S. Department of Education incentives for states to adopt college and career-ready standards, seen by critics as a nod to the Common Core.

Education experts also debate how much the Common Core differs from the standards they are meant to replace. A 2011 Center on Education Policy survey of more than 300 school districts in the participating states found that roughly 60 percent of respondents believed the Common Core Standards are more rigorous than the ones they have been using. Common Core allows some flexibility for states: States can add up to 15 percent of their own material to the standards.

A review by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute concluded that roughly two-thirds of the participating states will improve their standards by adopting the Common Core. Yet some experts have questioned that conclusion. Likewise, some studies, including a recent Brookings Institution report, have raised questions about whether the standards will have much impact on student achievement.

Among the concerns some critics of the standards have raised is the question of whether the standards-writers have strayed from content into pedagogy. Some critics have taken aim at the “publisher’s criteria,” which guide the development of curricular and instructional materials based on the standards, saying that the criteria include specific instructions on how teachers should lead lessons. And some educational publishers have faced criticism for claims that their materials are aligned with the common standards. Two professors from Duke University and Northwestern University proposed a “Consumer Reports”-styled portal that would set guidelines and help validate the claims made by education product developers.

Even strong supporters of the initiative acknowledge that how states and districts implement the common standards and assessments will make all the difference in how they affect students and schools. Various groups have issued tips and talking points on how to roll out the new material. Primers are available for elementary and high school leaders. The makers of the Common Core have also drafted accommodations for English-language learners and students with disabilities.

If standards are only as good as the assessments meant to measure them, Common Core supporters were buoyed by a recent study by the National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST). The center, based at University of California, Los Angeles, concluded that the consortia have the potential to create models for tests that are more intellectually demanding than what states currently use to gauge student knowledge. Meanwhile, critics of testing, such as FairTest, have sharply criticized the Common Core’s emphasis on testing.

The increased rigor of exams aligned to the Common Core Standards could have far-reaching consequences in the classroom, as teachers seek to prepare students for the assessments. And how students ultimately perform on those tests could breed its own set of consequences. In Kentucky, an early adopter of the Common Core standards, student scores dropped sharply in 2012 after the state administered tests aligned with the standards. As many more states move to common assessments, some education experts fear that public support for the standards may erode as passing rates fall.

Whether such concerns are borne out may well depend on where the “cut scores,” or standards for achievement, are set. States participating in the Common Core assessment consortia have agreed to use common cut scores, enabling them to measure their students’ achievement on the tests against a shared yardstick. Indeed, supporters cite the ability to compare states’ scores as one reason the common tests will be an improvement over the status quo.

The two consortia have set different deadlines for setting cut scores. SBAC expects to settle on a shared benchmark for its member states in the summer of 2014. PARCC’s expects its member states to establish shared cut scores in 2015. The two consortia have formed a team to work on comparing the cut scores from the two assessment programs; the group is coordinated by the CCSSO with input from the NGA. The test makers plan to have the assessments ready for districts to use in the 2014-15 school year.

The two consortia plan to offer several “formative assessments” for grades 3-8 and 11 to be given over the course of each school year before the high-stakes “summative” tests. The periodic testing is designed to allow teachers to better target student weaknesses ahead of end-of-year exams.

While SBAC plans to issue summative tests to high schoolers in grade 11, PARCC plans tests for grades 9-11. PARCC details its kindergarten through high school assessments here. Blueprints for the PARCC test material suggest speaking and listening components will be featured, with students being asked to write critical essays and examinations for the ELA portions. SBAC, meanwhile, is in the process of assembling thousands of test items and tasks to be used for trial runs in 2013. The consortium explains its assessment goals and comments on its organizational structure here.

The assessments will be administered digitally, so new protocols for test security are likely on the horizon. To give schools time to adjust to the computerized format, SBAC will develop paper-and-pencil assessments in the three years following 2014-15. Its tests will also fluctuate in difficulty based on the student’s answers, in an approach known as computer-adaptive testing. The tests developed by the consorta will vary in the length of time students will need to complete the assessments, but estimates have ranged from 7.5 to 10 hours over multiple testing periods.

When reporting on your state’s relationship with either of the two testing consortia, keep in mind there are numerous affiliations a state may have with the assessment groups. For one, the two consortia are not the only players in the Common Core assessment game. For example, testing giant ACT has aggressively pushed its suite of tests as an alternative to PARCC and SBAC. Tremors across the education landscape were felt when Alabama ditched the two consortia in early 2013 and adopted ACT’s battery of exams. However, a state can drop a consortium’s tests but still hold on to its consortium membership. Oklahoma announced in July of 2013 it will be adopting its own tests, though maintained its PARCC membership for another half year until finally leaving PARCC for good. Indiana, the first state to drop the Common Core standards, is still technically a member of PARCC at the time of this writing. 

And sometimes the changes are pauses in implementation that are responses to political winds. Indiana in June 2013 placed a moratorium on its Common Core rollout plans. Florida announced in September it will be curtailing its participation by nixing its role as the fiscal agent of PARCC. In March of 2014, the Sunshine State officially dropped PARCC and tapped American Institutes for Research to built a state assessment. 

Other states that’ve changed their consortium relationships include Georgia, which in July 2013 announced it was leaving PARCC to develop its own tests. Utah decided to part with its consortium, SBAC, in 2012, while Kansas waved goodbye to SBAC in December 2013. Alaska, a member of SBAC even though it did not adopt the Common Core standards (though the Anchorage school system did), opted out of the consortium in January 2014. South Carolina distanced itself from SBAC in April of 2014, and the law that formally ended Common Core standards in the state also bans the use of the Smarter Balanced assessments. Tennessee said adieu to PARCC in June 2014

Watch out for that 15-state threshold as states consider opting out; the validity of the consortium could be called into question and costs may inch upward as more states drop out. – Mikhail Zinshteyn, March 2013 (Last Update: 07/31/2014)

Latest News

California Conditions Favorable for Common Core Implementation

Opposition to the Common Core has emerged on several fronts. Some states are threatening to withdraw altogether. Nationally, support among the general public is shaky and eroding, at least based on the results of recent polls.

By contrast, the situation is different in California, where the prospect of implementing the Common Core without significant resistance seems greater than in many other states. Here are eight reasons why.

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?

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.

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Project-based Learning Vies For Time In Classrooms

Project-based learning, or, as it is sometimes called, inquiry-based learning, is the practice of allowing students to seek answers to a central question or solve a real-world problem through their own research, experiments and ideas. The approach usually culminates in a variety of work products, such as live or written presentations, science fair-like demonstrations or the construction or design of art, a machine or an invention.

Proponents say that when it is done right, project-based learning students can learn history, economics, science and math by working hands-on.

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Amid Testing Worries, Local School Officials Aim to Get State’s Ear

School officials across Florida continue to voice grave concerns about the state’s ability to launch a new testing system this spring without major problems. Pasco County is the latest to wade in, as school board members consider their own resolution seeking relief from high-stakes tests.

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Three States Take Lead On Common Core, But Are They Moving Too Fast?

States trying to give teeth to the Common Core by tying new tests to graduation requirements are bumping up against resistance.

Forty-three states are currently signed on to the Common Core State Standards, a voluntary system designed to ensure that high school graduates are prepared for college. New Jersey, Maryland, and Washington are among a smaller number starting to link graduation requirements to the new and more challenging Common Core testing systems. 

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.

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In Protest Against Common Core, Portland School Board Will Consider Refusing To Set Yearly Achievement Goals

A month after asking the state to delay using Common Core-aligned state test results to grade schools, the Portland School Board appears ready to back that effort up with a refusal to set yearly achievement targets in three subjects linked to the new test.

The board is set to vote next week upon the district’s proposed yearly goals for student achievement – which conspicuously don’t include targets for third grade reading, fifth-grade math and eighth-grade math.

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Common Core Copyright: What Does It Really Mean?
5 Questions with Chris Minnich

Despite a noisy debate, more than 40 states are continuing to implement the Common Core State Standards.

Critics recently raised the copyright on the Common Core as evidence that the standards – developed by the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governor’s Association – are too rigid or are a profit-making endeavor.\

What’s going on? RealClearEducation spoke with CCSSO Executive Director Chris Minnich to discuss the Common Core’s copyright and how much power states really have in editing the standards.

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

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The Plot Against Public Education

Bill Gates had an idea. He was passionate about it, absolutely sure he had a winner. His idea? America’s high schools were too big.

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‘Deeper Learning’ Improves Student Outcomes. But What Is It?

The pressure is on teachers this year. Students are preparing to be tested on the new, tougher Common Core State Standards in over 40 states where, in many cases, teachers will be evaluated on the outcome. But a new report published by the American Institutes for Research (AIR) has identified a school reform with proven results in boosting student achievement, and not only on tests.

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The Common Core Makes Simple Math More Complicated. Here’s Why.

The start of a new school year means that confusing math problems linked to the Common Core are circulating again on Facebook and blogs.

The conservative Heritage Foundation picked out the latest example, originally from RedState.com editor Erick Erickson: a textbook that uses six steps to explain how to subtract two numbers.

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Why A Miami Middle School Is Teaching Debate To Conquer Common Core

Bridget McKinney, principal at Miami’s Allapattah Middle School, says her students struggle to pass the state’s reading and writing tests.

So when McKinney first read the Common Core math and language arts standards used in Florida schools this year, what jumped out was the emphasis on answering questions and making arguments using examples and evidence from what students are reading.

It took McKinney back to college — she was a speech major. So she decided her sixth, seventh and eighth graders would have to take a speech and debate course each year.

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Low Test Scores May Add To Utah Debate Over Teaching Math

Utah’s path to the Common Core began with a math problem.

In 2002, the state school board adopted a new framework for the math skills kids should learn each year, figuring it would guide Utah classrooms for a decade.

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.

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Testing: Schools Make Strides But Have ‘Long Way to Go’

Terry Holliday, Kentucky’s commissioner of education, echoed Hargens take on the results, saying that the state’s plan “is clearly working.”

Friday’s release marked the third year of test results since Kentucky adopted the national Common Core Standards, meant to provide deeper instruction that better prepare students.

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Survey: Common Core Standards Working Well

But teachers in states where the math and reading standards have been in place longest say that, in spite of the criticisms, Common Core is going well — and that most teachers feel prepared to teach new kinds of lessons. In a new survey underwritten by the children’s publisher Scholastic and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, both Common Core supporters, 79% of teachers say they feel “very” or “somewhat” prepared to teach under the new standards, up from 71% last year.

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Common Core Heats Up Louisiana Senate Race

Add the Louisiana Senate Race to the list of campaigns where the Common Core State Standards are rocketing to the forefront ahead of the mid-term elections.

Democratic incumbent Sen. Mary Landrieu and her two Republican challengers, Rep. Bill Cassidy and retired Air Force Col. Rob Maness, are squaring off on the controversial standards, according to a story by Mike Hasten that graced the cover of Monday’s Shreveport Times.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Atlanta Cheating Scandal: Are School Testing Stakes Too High?

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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:

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Will Common-Core Testing Platforms Impede Math Tasks?

Unlike previous state assessments, those being developed by the two federally funded consortia will include complex, multipart word problems that students will answer on screen. While some of those questions will provide built-in tools that allow students to put points on a graph or draw lines on a ready-made picture, other questions will ask them to write their answers in narrative form, using a keyboard.

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L.A. Unified Oversight Panel Rejects $42 Million for Computers

The district’s proposal was discussed for the first time in a meeting of the independent School Construction Bond Citizens’ Oversight Committee, which reviews the use of school construction money. The bond panel rejected the plan, saying that L.A. Unified had not proved that it urgently needed these devices.

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Calls To Suspend State-Mandated Testing Intensify

Six weeks into the school year, educators and parents across Florida again are sounding alarms about the state’s ability to conduct reliable and fair testing in the spring.

Twelve school districts, representing about half the state’s public school enrollment, are preparing to take their concerns to state officials. Among their worries: The tests haven’t been properly validated; school district lack adequate technology; and teachers haven’t received enough training.

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: Ed Beat

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.

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Missouri’s Common Core Rewrite Off To A Ragged Start

The teams trying to rewrite Missouri’s learning standards can only hope things go smoother from here. The political storms over the Common Core State Standards that propelled the Missouri legislature’s decision to re-examine the state’s learning targets has given way to a “logistical nightmare.”

 

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NC Panel Starts Revision Of Common Core Standards

As part of legislation repealing the controversial Common Core academic standards in North Carolina public schools, a new state commission began the process Monday of reviewing math and English language targets for students to devise a new system of standards.

The Academic Standards Review Commission has a year to come up with standards to recommend to the State Board of Education. The Common Core standards started to show up in classrooms two years ago and will stay in place until any changes are finalized.

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Common Core a Litmus Test in Arizona Education Chief’s Race

The Common Core State Standards might be one of education’s most divisive issues, but in Arizona, the standards are having a unifying effect in the race for state superintendent, at least among some influential backers of the initiative.

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Lawsuit Challenges Missouri Payments To Support ‘Common Core’

A St. Louis man who successfully has challenged other state laws through the courts has sued Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro and other state officials over the “Common Core” education standards designed to be the same for states that adopt them.

Nanci Gonder, Attorney General Chris Koster’s spokeswoman, said the state officially was served with the lawsuit on Thursday, then said: “We decline to comment on pending litigation.”

Report

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

American Institutes for Research

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

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New Test, New Stress

In the final move of a three-year statewide transition in Illinois, the new tests will be entirely online — and plenty of people are worried about it. While students historically have been counseled through proper bubbling on an answer sheet, they now will need keyboarding and mouse skills to prove themselves.

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Common Core Math Standards Add Up To Big Money For Education Companies

When thousands of math teachers descended on New Orleans earlier this year, two words proved more seductive than chocolate. Or sex. Or even quadratic equations.

Common Core.

The teachers were in town to attend the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics annual conference. The exhibit hall featured endless booths stocked with Common Core textbooks, Common Core legos, Common Core geometry sets, Common Core MOOCs (which stands for massive open online courses). There were even flying robots that vendors said could help children learn the Common Core.

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Kindergarten Evolves In The Era Of Common Core

In Southwest Florida classrooms — and many others across the country — kindergarten in the era of Common Core has evolved into something that feels more like first grade.

Educators are feeling the pressure to push even their youngest students academically so children don’t fall behind.

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LAUSD’s Deasy Seeks Records of Board Members’ Tech-firm Contacts

“It’s not as if they were going on long camping trips together before this happened,” he said, referring to tensions between Deasy and some board members. “Deasy obviously feels he’s been unfairly attacked for communications he believes are completely appropriate. This looks like his effort to find out if the pots are calling the kettle black.”

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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?

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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. 

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Big Year Looms for Common-Core Testing

For four years, schools in nearly every state have been working to put the Common Core State Standards into practice in classrooms, but few have put them to the test—literally. This year, that changes.

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.”

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Common Core Repeal Costs Oklahoma Its NCLB Waiver

Two Republican governors repealed the Common Core this year and on Thursday, they got very different results. The Education Department said it’s yanking Oklahoma’s waiver from No Child Left Behind, making it the second state ever to lose its reprieve from the law. But Indiana will receive a one-year extension of its waiver because it did what the Sooner State could not: find suitable replacement for the Common Core.

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Education Experts Are Skeptical of Bobby Jindal’s New Common Core Lawsuit

National education experts and local elected officials expressed doubt Wednesday that Gov. Bobby Jindal’s new lawsuit against President Barack Obama’s administration over the Common Core academic standards would succeed.

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Florida County Opts Out of State-Mandated Tests

Lee Schools made history Wednesday night when they voted to become the first school district in the state to opt out of all statewide, standardized tests.

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Gist Says General Assembly’s Moratorium Prompted Decision To Postpone Testing Requirement

State Education Commissioner Deborah A. Gist said she would not have postponed the testing part of the high school graduation requirement, if the legislature hadn’t done so first.

On Monday, Gist recommended that any test-based graduation requirement be delayed until the Class of 2020. On Sept. 8, the new Council for Elementary and Secondary Education will vote on whether to put this proposal before the public.

The requirement was originally slated to take effect in 2014. The General Assembly, earlier this year, postponed the requirement to 2017.

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Gov. Bobby Jindal Sues Obama Administration Over Common Core

Gov. Bobby Jindal filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the Obama administration, accusing it of illegally manipulating federal grant money and regulations to force states to adopt the Common Core education standards.

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.

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Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Pledge $1 Million to DonorsChoose

“Teachers do this incredible job with our kids in the classroom. And yet so often they spend … over  $400 of their own money on classroom supplies, technology and books. And DonorsChoose helps support that so teachers don’t have to do that,” Melinda said.

[...]

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.

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A Tale Of Two Polls

Two new polls this week attempt to quantify the public’s feelings for the Common Core State Standards. The K-12 benchmarks in English and math were little known this time last year. But they’ve since become the subject of a high-profile political fight. Now a majority of the public opposes them.

Or do they?

Poll No. 1, out today, puts support for the Core at just 33 percent. But Poll No. 2, released yesterday, puts it at 53 percent. That’s a big difference.

Which one is wrong? Or can they both, somehow, be right?

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Judge Lifts Jindal Administration’s Suspension Of Common Core Contracts

With high-stakes assessments of Louisiana fourth-graders slated for spring 2015, a state judge in Baton Rouge sided with Common Core advocates Tuesday and lifted the Jindal administration’s suspension of contracts for a key state test on which supporters of the new academic standards have been relying.

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PDK/Gallup Poll Finds Rising Awareness, Majority Opposition to Common Core

While more people know what the Common Core State Standards are than last year, a majority of them oppose the standards, according to the 46th edition of the PDK/Gallup Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools.

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ACT Scores Paint Troubling Picture For Students Of Color

As American students return to classes in a public education system projected to be majority minority for the first time this fall, new test scores provide alarming evidence that students of color remain far behind their white counterparts.

While only 39 percent of all students who took the ACT college admissions test in 2013 scored well enough to be deemed college-ready by the testing company, the number was dramatically lower for minority students, with only 11 percent of African-American and 18 percent of Hispanic students meeting the bar.

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Common Core Educational Standards Are Losing Support Nationwide, Poll Shows

A year ago, the term Common Core meant little to the American public. But today, a vast majority of people in the country are familiar with the nationwide educational standards, and most of them oppose the initiative touted by the Obama administration, a new survey shows.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Poll: Common Core Brand Hurting Public Support For Standards

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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.

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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.

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With Fractions, Common-Core Training Goes Beyond ‘Invert and Multiply’

“Who would draw a picture to divide 2/3 by 3/4?” asked Marina Ratner, a professor emerita of mathematics at the University of California at Berkeley, in a recent Wall Street Journal opinion piece.

Ratner meant the question as rhetorical—she’s an adamant opponent of the Common Core State Standards in math and spends the article arguing that they’re making math education in the country worse. Her point was that drawing such a picture is a waste of time and makes the problem overly complex. 

Blog: Ed Beat

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.

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Libertarian Group Sues Utah Over Common Core

The lawsuit alleges that Utahns — specifically local school boards, superintendents, teachers, employers and parents — weren’t properly consulted about the standards before the state school board voted to adopt them in 2010.

Latest News

Here’s What Several Education Groups Think about Potential Common Core Repeal

Many of Ohio’s schools have already incorporated the Common Core, a set of expectations for what students should know and be able to do in math and English at each grade level, into their curriculum. The state’s full implementation of the learning expectations launches this fall.

But not so fast, say two House representatives.

Latest News

Common Core: Who’s On Track For College And Who Is Not?

Within weeks, the New York state Education Department will release results from the second round of new math and English tests, and tens of thousands of parents will again try to decipher the state’s 1-4 scoring system.

How does the state determine the crucial break between a 2, which means that a student is not quite proficient in, say, fifth-grade math, and a 3, which signifies that he or she is on track for college?

Latest News

Common Core Might Be the Most Important Issue in the 2016 Republican Presidential Race. Here’s What You Need to Know About It.

Here’s an effort to try to understand Common Core — and shifts of perceptions of the education standards — through the lens of the stories that tried to explain them and the people who explained why they don’t like the standards, including many of the politicians considering a presidential run in 2016.

Latest News

Glenn Beck Takes to the Theaters to Attack Common Core

Conservative media commentator Glenn Beck led a national strategy session to kill the Common Core State Standards on Tuesday night, using a two-hour simulcast into movie theaters across the country as a way to embolden critics of the standards and recruit foot soldiers to the cause.

Latest News

N.C. Governor Signs Common Core Compromise Bill Into Law

North Caroline Gov. Pat McCrory signed a compromise bill Tuesday that replaces the Common Core education standards.

The law creates a commission to review the state’s math and language arts requirements. The Board of Education must approve any suggestions made by the new commission. Common Core will stay in place in public schools until the new standards are written.

 

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.

Latest News

Ending Common Core a Tough Task

Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s call to scrap Common Core academic standards for Wisconsin schools is meeting resistance from GOP Senate leaders, with one key lawmaker calling it “monkey business.”

Republicans currently have majorities in both the state Senate and Assembly, but elections this November will determine which party is in the majority next year. Republicans have a strong 60-39 majority in the Assembly but a more narrow 17-15 hold on the Senate, with one vacancy in a heavily GOP district.

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

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.

Post

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

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.

Event

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.

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.

Report

Addressing the Common Core Standards in Mathematics for Students with Mathematics Difficulties

We propose that working on foundational skills related to the Common Core standards is a necessary component of mathematics instruction for students with MD, and we provide teachers with a framework for working on foundational skills concurrent with the Common Core standards. We caution, however, that implementation of the Common Core is in its infancy, and the implications of the Common Core for students with MD need to be monitored carefully.

Report

Curricular Coherence and the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics

In this work, we explored the relationship of the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics (CCSSM) to student achievement. Building on techniques developed for the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), we found a very high degree of similarity between CCSSM and the standards of the highest-achieving nations on the 1995 TIMSS. A similar analysis revealed wide variation in the proximity of state standards in effect in 2009 to the CCSSM.

Report

How Well are American Students Learning?

Despite all the money and effort devoted to developing the Common Core State Standards—not to mention the simmering controversy over their adoption in several states—the study foresees little to no impact on student learning. That conclusion is based on analyzing states’ past experience with standards and examining several years of scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).

Report

Year Two of Implementing the Common Core State Standards: States’ Progress and Challenges

This report, based on a fall 2011 survey of 35 Common Core State Standards-adopting states (including the District of Columbia), examines states’ progress in transitioning the new standards.  The vast majority of the states in the survey believe that the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are more rigorous than previous state academic standards in math and English language arts.  The vast majority of survey states are taking steps to familiarize state and district officials with the new standards and to align curriculum and assessments.  However, most of the states in the sur

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