Tag Archive for Common Core

States that stuck with shared tests are ahead of the game

Those who were quick to dismiss the Common Core assessments as fatally flawed are having to eat their words.The evidence is in, and it looks like those states that stayed the course with Smarter Balanced and PARCC are in a far more stable position than those states that bowed to political pressure and retreated. As this U.S. News and World Report commentary… Read more →

Is your Common Core opposition driven by selfishness or cluelessness?

If you selected 20 parent friends from across the country with diverse backgrounds, children of all ages and diverse educational levels and careers and asked them what—if anything—they knew about Common Core State Standards (CCSS), what would happen? That’s exactly what I did this week. My interest was piqued not only because I’ve noticed – who hasn’t?—that Common Core continues… Read more →

South Dakota wins its fight to keep Common Core and exam

South Dakota’s adoption of Common Core standards was not illegal, a Hughes County judge ruled last week.

Two South Dakota parents filed a suit against Gov. Dennis Daugaard and the state in November arguing that South Dakota’s involvement in an multi-state assessment group aligned with Common Core standards was illegal.

Last week, Circuit Court Judge Mark Barnett ruled that the state had not violated any federal or state laws.

Massachusetts once had the best state test in the country. Will it again?

The Hechinger Report, news story, 6-7-2016

The MCAS has long been considered one of the nation’s best tests at assessing student performance. But the shift to the Common Core State Standards meant it would have to go. The PAARC tests, used in states such as Illinois and New Jersey since 2015, were supposed to be even better. Not the joy-killing machines ruining childhood, as so many critics have portrayed standardized tests, but true measures of whether children were learning the key skills they would need as grown-ups: how to think critically, solve problems, make a convincing argument, and write a coherent paragraph.

Instead, the uproar over testing has only gotten louder. The increased difficulty of PARCC and other Common Core-aligned exams sent pass rates plummeting, while teacher evaluations linked to scores have fueled union-led fights, including those now unfolding in Massachusetts. And the continued use of multiple-choice questions has parents, teachers, and kids questioning whether the new tests could be much better than what they were replacing.

Amid the controversy, the Massachusetts Board of Education decided last fall to create an MCAS/PARCC hybrid unique to this state. Officials and educators are optimistic that by retaining control over the test, they will help preserve Massachusetts’s spot at the top of the US educational pack.

Debunking the Myths Behind ‘The Math Myth’

The Atlantic, commentary, 6-13-2016

A political scientist recently argued that teaching people anything beyond arithmetic is useless, and that requiring algebra in high school drives the country’s dropout rates. Here’s why he’s wrong.

When the political scientist Andrew Hacker published The Math Myth and Other STEM Delusions earlier this year, he didn’t break the internet. But he certainly stirred up the math establishment in arguing that anything more complicated than arithmetic is useless to most people, that requiring algebra in high school is an obstacle that drives the country’s dropout rates, and that the Common Core’s approach to math, which calls for more complex math like trigonometry, is a mistake.

As a journalist who has made math education her beat for a while now, I have been fascinated by the whole debacle, in part because many of Hacker’s arguments are more than a century old.

While I agreed with him that for many, failing a math course can derail them from college, never mind graduation, he lost me when he insisted struggling students shouldn’t have to bother with more abstract math. The teenaged me would have rejoiced outwardly at no longer being forced to deal with functions—but inwardly, it would have been the confirmation of my groundless fears: Sorry, you’re too stupid to even try this.

Parents to receive easier-to-read reports on Smarter Balanced test scores

EdSource, 6-7-2016

Parents across California will soon find out how their children performed on Smarter Balanced tests aligned with Common Core standards in math and English language arts.

A key change this year is that the score reports show student progress from last year to this year. The reports will include simplified text and easier-to­-read graphics than last year, according to new samples approved by the state. Parents should receive their children’s reports during the summer. This is earlier than last year, when some parents didn’t receive their children’s score reports in the mail until October or November, said Celia Jaffe, vice president of education for the California PTA.

The tests were first administered last year as part of the state’s California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress, or CAASPP testing system. Each spring, more than 3 million students in grades 3 through 8 and 11 take the Smarter Balanced assessments.

Closing the ‘Honesty Gap’ in North Dakota

Interview, Grand Forks Herald, 5-28-16

Education leaders must communicate accurately to teachers, parents and schools, says North Dakota State Superintendent Kirsten Baesler on efforts to close the Honesty Gap. Twenty-seven percent of North Dakota’s college-bound students require remediation.

“It’s systemic. And if we’re waiting to identify student needs until the student’s 11th grade year, we’re pretty late in the game…That’s why honest assessments are so important,” Baesler explains. Multiple reports find that states are raising expectations and providing more accurate information about student readiness by implementing high standards and high-quality assessments.

This month, Baesler announced North Dakota will review its education standards and continue to build on the Common Core framework.

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