A report by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) provides examples of how the new college- and career-ready standards are being implemented across the country. It is a resource for chiefs and deputies who want to know how their peers at the state and local levels have implemented college- and career-ready standards. This report shines a light on strategies states have utilized when implementing standards and shares with others strategies to adapt or borrow to meet the needs in their own states. The strategies were collected from interviews with educators from over 29 states. The study offers resources highlighting the importance of early engagement with stakeholders, continuous professional development, and high-quality resources.
“The intent is to foster dialogue and spur collaboration. This report is also an opportunity to showcase the outstanding work that goes on in our nation’s classrooms.”
It also provides a glimpse into how state policy impacts educators and students in the classroom, and how district leaders are working to prepare students to succeed after they graduate from high school. Polling shows parents and educators strongly support college- and career-ready education standards, but many educators lack professional support to effectively teach to Common Core State Standards.
Education Week, 6-22-2016
Rural schools are increasingly relying on online courses to expand education opportunity for students, especially in the midst of budget cuts and teacher shortages. For many of these schools, online credit recovery can free up staff members, expand course offerings, and provide more opportunities for students to earn credits needed to graduate.
A new report published by the Institute of Education Sciences and written by the Regional Educational Laboratory Northwest examined successful credit recovery strategies in Montanato determine how schools, especially rural ones, can administer successful online credit-recovery programs. The report found that among schools in Montana that offer credit recovery through a statewide online system, those that had the highest passing rates had several strategies in common.
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.
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.
Teacherpensions.org, commentary, 6-14-2016
Last month “The Pension Pac-Man: How Pension Debt Eats Away at Teacher Salaries” was released, which used data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to show that, like the proverbial Pac-Man, the rapidly rising costs of teacher retirement and insurance benefits are gobbling up funds that could be spent on salaries. The BLS released new data for 2016 last week, and the trends are all in the wrong direction:
- Since 1994, teacher salaries have not kept up with inflation, but total teacher compensation has. That’s because benefit costs are rising much faster than inflation and eating up larger and larger shares of teacher compensation. As a share of total compensation, teacher salaries have never been lower. For the average teacher, their salary is only 68.8 percent of their total compensation; benefits consume the remainder.
- Retirement costs tend to be higher in the public sector, but retirement costs for teachers remain much higher than for any other profession, including other public-sector workers. As a percentage of their total compensation package, teacher retirement benefits eat up more than twice as much as other workers (10.9 versus 5.1 percent).
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 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.
The New York Times, 6-5-2016
This is the question: What do you think the unemployment rate is for 25-to-34-year-olds who graduated from a four-year college?
There is some evidence that having a college degree doesn’t guarantee a good job, but the alternative is much worse. Young people who have earned a college degree have substantially lower unemployment rates than those who haven’t. Since 2000, young college graduates, on average, have an unemployment rate that is 5.5 percentage points lower than those of nongraduates. And this gap typically widens during recessions; it expanded to 10 percentage points at the depths of the Great Recession.
College graduates also make more money. A typical college graduate can expect to make over half a million dollars more than a nongraduate over a lifetime. Much of this has to do with differences in wage growth during the midcareer of a college graduate versus a nongraduate.
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.
The Oklahoman, news interview, 5/26/2016
Are high school algebra requirements a needless stumbling block or a necessary bridge to success? The answer depends on who you ask.
If you ask advocates of the new common core standards, more algebra is better. Common Core, now adopted by 46 states, requires high school students to pass Algebra II.
Ironically, one of the states that won’t be participating is Texas, which dropped its Algebra II graduation requirement in 2014, after being one of the first states to adopt the requirement in the early 2000s. Texas dropped its requirement under pressure from local industry groups, who argued that career readiness did not require higher math, and that the Algebra 2 requirement was preventing kids from graduating.
Andrew Hacker, a retired political science professor who spent most of his career at Queens College in New York City, has become the leading national spokesman for the controversial notion that we ask our high school students to do too much math.