Agenda: Denver, Colo.
Feb. 26, 2015 – University of Colorado Denver

This agenda is subject to change. Review the onsite program for the final schedule and speakers.


8:00 – 8:30 a.m.

8:30 – 9:00 a.m.
Welcome & Introductions

  • Caroline Hendrie, Education Writers Association
  • Paul Teske, University of Colorado Denver School of Public Affairs

9:00 – 10:00 a.m.
Taking Political Stock of the Common Core

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 And what happens in states that have called for a review or even rescinded the standards?

  • Michael Petrilli, Thomas B. Fordham Institute
  • Deven Carlson, University of Oklahoma
  • Mary Cathryn Ricker, American Federation of Teachers
  • Dan Thatcher, National Conference of State Legislatures
  • Andrew Ujifusa, Education Week (moderator)

10:00 – 11:15 a.m.
Standardized Testing, Then and Now

Reporters take a traditional state standardized test and a new, Common Core assessment. An expert breaks down the common traits and differences between the two tests and what journalists should consider as they write about the spring rollout of Common Core assessments across the country. The expert details what the new assessments can – and cannot – measure.

  • Andrew Latham, WestEd

11:15-11:30 a.m. – Break

11:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
How They Did It: Journalists Share Their Stories

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

  • Nan Austin, Modesto Bee 
  • Liana Heitin, Education Week 
  • Nate Robson, Oklahoma Watch
  • Steve Drummond, NPR (moderator)

12:15 – 1:00 p.m.

1:00 – 2:00 pm.
Making Sense of the Evolving Assessment Landscape

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

  • Derek Briggs, University of Colorado
  • Chris Minnich, Council of Chief State School Officers
  • Nicholas Garcia, Chalkbeat Colorado (moderator)

2:00 – 2:15 p.m.
Quick Hit: What Surveys Say About the Common Core

  • Erik Robelen, EWA

2:15 – 3:15 p.m.
Common Core in Action

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

  • Merlinda Maldonado, Hill Middle School, Denver, Colo.
  • Luann Tallman, Iowa Elementary School, Aurora, Colo.
  • Kristy Straley, Puesta del Sol Elementary School, Albuquerque 
  • Mark Sass, Legacy High School, Thornton, Colo.
  • Liana Heitin, Education Week (moderator)

3:15 – 3:30 p.m.

3:30 – 4:15 p.m.
Scenarios for Covering Standards and Testing

Reporters team up in small groups to strategize on the most effective ways to cover a set of news developments related to the Common Core standards and assessments.

  • Emily Richmond, Education Writers Association

4:15 – 5:00 p.m.
Your Turn: Brainstorming Story Ideas

EWA leads an interactive session in which participants work together to develop a list of compelling and consequential stories on standards and testing to produce for their audiences in the months to come.

  • Caroline Hendrie, Education Writers Association


Seminar hosted by the University of Colorado Denver School of Public Affairs