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 have 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), managed by Achieve, 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)
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.
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.
“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.”
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.
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.
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.
August 28, 2014Julia O'DonoghueNOLA.com/The Times-Picayune
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
August 14, 2014Matthew FrizzellCenter 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.
“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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A July 17 discussion between Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Superintendent John White failed to break a political and policy disagreement between Jindal and the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education that has grown and festered around the state’s assessment plans for the 2014-15 school year.
July 18, 2014Erin Richards and Patrick MarleyMilwaukee Journal Sentinel
Republican Gov. Scott Walker said Thursday he wants Wisconsin to repeal the Common Core education standards it has adopted along with most other states, making his strongest statement on the issue yet. “Today, I call on the members of the state Legislature to pass a bill in early January to repeal Common Core and replace it with standards set by people in Wisconsin,” Walker said in a written statement.
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.
The House approved a compromise bill, 71-34, Wednesday to rewrite the statewide curriculum to better tailor it for North Carolina students. The legislation now heads to Gov. Pat McCrory, who promised minutes after its passage that he would sign the bill.
Both chambers had competing bills on how to change the state’s curriculum, but came to a compromise that allowed the state to potentially use some materials from the Common Core program that are effective. The Senate signed off on it last week.
The Oklahoma Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that a bill repealing Common Core academic standards is constitutional, rejecting a claim that the Legislature overstepped its authority by giving itself the power to draft new, replacement benchmarks for schoolchildren.
Ruling just a few hours after taking oral arguments on a lawsuit brought by parents, teachers and members of the state Board of Education, the court merely noted that it has jurisdiction and that the bill does not violate sections of the constitution dealing with separation of powers and education.
The American Federation of Teachers will open its annual convention Friday morning with a startling announcement: After years of strongly backing the Common Core, the union now plans to give its members grants to critique the academic standards — or to write replacement standards from scratch.
It’s a sign that teachers are frustrated and fed up — and they’re making their anger heard, loud and clear.
July 2, 2014Stephanie Simon and Caitlin EmmaPolitico
A new front has opened in the Common Core wars — over testing contracts. The high-stakes battle is undermining one of the Obama administration’s most prized initiatives: its vision, backed by more than $370 million in federal funds, of testing students across the country on a common set of exams in math, reading and writing.
About two-thirds of district superintendents said they believe the Common Core State Standards will improve the quality of education in their communities, while 22 percent said the standards will have no effect, according to the results from a new poll.
The new instructional approach in math seeks to help children understand and use it as a problem-solving tool instead of teaching them merely to repeat formulas over and over. They are also being asked to apply concepts to real-life situations and explain their reasoning.
After the Michigan Legislature decided in June to throw out the Smarter Balanced test for next school year, educators are now scrambling to prepare lesson plans geared toward the MEAP. The result: A lot of teacher uncertainty about what they should emphasize in the classroom.
June 27, 2014Javier C. HernandezThe New York Times
The student-led approach to reading and writing, known as balanced literacy, is poised to make a comeback in New York City classrooms. The new schools chancellor, Carmen Fariña, wants more schools to adopt aspects of balanced literacy, including its emphasis on allowing students to choose many of the books they read.
The move, while cheered by proponents of this method, is seen by some as a departure from recent trends in the city and nationwide.
A 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:
They allege in a petition filed with the court that a bill signed into law by Gov. Mary Fallin on June 5 is unconstitutional because it gives the Legislature too much power to come up with a new set of benchmarks to replace the rigorous math and English standards in Oklahoma schools.
State Superintendent John White has previously said the governor had no authority to scrap the Common Core or to pull out of a federally funded consortium that has been developing new reading, writing and math tests aligned to the academic standards.
On Wednesday, he ramped up his rhetoric considerably, telling POLITICO in an interview that Jindal is breaking the law, trampling the state constitution — and crushing the dreams of low-income minority students.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — In sterile, air-conditioned conference rooms across the state, educators will be gathering this summer to prepare for the new standards soon to be in place in most of the nation’s kindergartens through high schools called Common Core.
But the people at these meetings won’t be primary- or secondary-school teachers. They’ll be university professors, planning changes to accommodate the imminent arrival of students being taught in dramatically new ways.
The Louisiana Board of Regents – a group of Jindal appointees –reiterated to colleges and universities on Monday that all educators in the state will still be trained to teach the national K-12 standards. The announcement comes less than a week after Jindal declared that Louisiana would drop adhering to the standards. His announcement made his among the first states to pull away from Common Core.
Republican lawmakers pushed forward Tuesday to repeal the Common Core education standards despite differences between the House and Senate about how to replace them.
The House voted 74-40 to put its version of the legislation into a Senate repeal bill and send it back to the chamber, a move that will force lawmakers on either side to craft a compromise version in the final weeks of session. The tally fell largely along party lines with the majority Republicans controlling the outcome.
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.
June 23, 2014Catherine GewertzEducation Week Teacher
Resentful that a massive wave of common-standards adoptions four years ago bypassed their chambers and subjected them to intense political heat, state lawmakers are taking steps to claim some of the authority that state boards of education have traditionally held over academic standards.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, Commissioner of Education Kevin Huffman and Fielding Rolston, the chairman of the state board of education, sent a letter to PARCC announcing a decision to withdraw from PARCC. The letter said the decision was sparked by a new law, House Bill 1549, which requires the state to use its current assessment, the TCAP, in the 2014-15 school year.
D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson announced Thursday that test scores will not play a part in teacher evaluations next year, a move meant to alleviate anxiety and account for unexpected complications as the city shifts to exams based on the Common Core State Standards. Principals’ evaluations also will not include scores from the new exams next year.
Ask anyone in Oklahoma politics who they think led the successful fight to repeal Common Core — Governor Mary Fallin signed the repeal into law on June 5 — and they’ll tell you that the story starts with this foursome. White served as the writer and spokeswoman for the group, which operates under the auspices of their LLC, Restore Oklahoma’s Public Education (ROPE). Together, the women have spent the past four years talking to Republican-party leaders, attending conservative conferences, and lobbying state legislators.
Igniting new controversy, Gov. Bobby Jindal said Wednesday he is ordering Louisiana out of the Common Core tests as part of a series of moves to drop the new academic standards after the Legislature refused to do so. “We need to start this process over,” Jindal told reporters.
But state Superintendent of Education John White, who Jindal pushed for the job, took the unusual step of publicly charging that the governor is wrong on the law and that Common Core plans will continue for the 2014-15 school year. “Our interpretation happens to be the right one,” White said.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
May 28, 2014Mandy Zatynski of The Education Trust for EWA
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.
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.
May 21, 2014Jane Roberts of The Commercial Appeal for EWA
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.”
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.
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.
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.
March 31, 2014 Andrew Ujifusa, Chienyi Cheri Hung, and Doris NhanEducation Week
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.
March 24, 2014Michael Alison ChandlerWashington Post
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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?
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?
October 30, 2013Matthew M. ChingosThe Brookings Institution
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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).
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
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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