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Text to Text: A New Feature, and an Invitation to Share Ideas

Text to Text: A New Feature, and an Invitation to Share Ideas | Common Core ELA_Literacy | Scoop.it
Introducing a new feature, in which we pair a Times article, past or present, with an often-taught literary, historical, scientific or mathematical text. We invite teachers to send us ideas.
Dr. Dea Conrad-Curry's insight:

What a great idea and service the Times is providing. The article continues: 

"Simpler than our usual daily lesson plans, it is just what it sounds like: we’ll be pairing two written texts that we think “speak” to each other in interesting ways, and supplying a few questions and ideas for working with the two together.

One of the excerpts will, of course, always be from The New York Times — sometimes ripped from that week’s headlines, and other times from the archives.

The other excerpt will usually come from an often-taught literary, historical, cultural, scientific or mathematical text. We will also include visuals — photographs, videos, infographics or illustrations — that might be used as additional texts on the topic.

Our main goal, as for most of what we do on this blog, is to show students how relevant what they study in school can be to the “real world.”

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Sample Student Assessment Reports

Sample Student Assessment Reports | Common Core ELA_Literacy | Scoop.it
Dr. Dea Conrad-Curry's insight:
Achieve offers a variety of educational resources that are free for the taking...and editable. From units through EQuIP to assessments and...reporting forms for families & parents. Check them out!
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As Common Core Testing Is Ushered In, Parents and Students Opt Out

As Common Core Testing Is Ushered In, Parents and Students Opt Out | Common Core ELA_Literacy | Scoop.it
On Monday, many public school students in New Jersey will begin to take standardized tests that are opposed by an unusually diverse coalition of enemies.
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Dr. Dea Conrad-Curry's curator insight, March 2, 12:23 PM

More than any other statewide assessment, PARCC is facing opposition in this quasi-movement to "opt-out" of Federally mandated testing. I'm truly without explanation for why PARCC is facing greater push-back than other assessments that are also new and untried: SBAC, ACT's Aspire, the AIR assessments. All of assessments tied to the Common Core are new--because the Common Core has not been tested statewide in the past. But statewide annual tests are nothing new--the only "new" aspect about these tests is that they are tied to the standards. And yet this year...parents, superintendents, principals and political groups are pushing back. Where was this push-back when assessment was tied only to test-makers' achievement design and not associated with what kids were supposed to be learning according to written and adopted standards? 

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Common Core and America’ High-Achieving Students

Dr. Dea Conrad-Curry's insight:

Good points made here: 

1. Common Core is no excuse to ditch gifted services.

2. State and local officials should get rid of policies that hurt gifted students and strengthen those that help them.

3. Schools should work harder to make differentiation “real.”

4. Schools should make use of existing high-quality materials that help teachers adapt the Common Core for gifted students.

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A Compendium of Research on the Common Core State Standards, by Matthew Frizzell and Tara Dunderdale at the Center on Education Policy

A Compendium of Research on the Common Core State Standards, by Matthew Frizzell and Tara Dunderdale at the Center on Education Policy | Common Core ELA_Literacy | Scoop.it
A Compendium of Research on the Common Core State Standards, a report by by Matthew Frizzell and Tara Dunderdale at the Center on Education Policy in Washington, DC, USA

Via Darren Burris
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Lead writer responds to common Common Core English gripes - The Hechinger Report

Lead writer responds to common Common Core English gripes - The Hechinger Report | Common Core ELA_Literacy | Scoop.it

Q: As you were crafting the standards, what were the biggest issues in English and Language Arts education?

A: "Our charge was to use evidence from college faculty and employers to find the gap between students graduating from high school and students who were ready for college and the workplace on day one. We found there was about a four-year gap between the level of students graduating from high school and the requirements of college and the workplace. In college and on the job, you are asked a question and you are expected to support your answer with evidence. But we found that in order to answer about 30 to 70 percent of questions in high school textbooks students didn’t have to read the text. Many state assessments have questions like “Who is your hero?”, “Tell us about your summer,” or “What is your favorite place to go?” There is nothing wrong with those questions, but in those situations we ask students to do something we would never want them to do on the job – answer questions without having read anything."

Dr. Dea Conrad-Curry's insight:

We don't often hear from the Common Core authors...and when we do...listening or in this case, reading,  might be in order. 

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One size fits most, even in the suburbs | The Thomas B. Fordham Institute

One size fits most, even in the suburbs | The Thomas B. Fordham Institute | Common Core ELA_Literacy | Scoop.it
Last week, writer Laura McKenna took to the Atlantic to try to understand why some suburban moms (many of them white) have turned against the Common Core. She settles on misinformation as a driving force, which is certainly a factor.
Dr. Dea Conrad-Curry's insight:

Seems Mike Petrilli has taken the lyrics to Frozen's cover song literally: "Let it go, let it go...can't hold it back anymore..." In this article, he advances a radical thought, " we should allow [suburban moms] to opt their kids out of traditional public schools and into schools (including charters) that are proudly progressive...." Petrilli asserts ..."most of the 'white suburban moms' who oppose Common Core also share a romantic, progressive view of education that is at odds with traditional schooling in general. We will never convince them of Common Core’s value, nor should we expect to."

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The New York Times or The Onion? "Is Your First Grader College Ready?"

The New York Times or The Onion?  "Is Your First Grader College Ready?" | Common Core ELA_Literacy | Scoop.it

"I have a suggestion that would do a lot more for the first graders described in the Times article than a “cut and paste worksheet” describing the steps to get into college.  Give every kid in that class a good set of plain Legos, some dolls, and other toys that promote unstructured, creative PLAY — let them negotiate and explore their SIX YEAR OLD MINDS.  There will be plenty of time to stress them out and confuse them in only two more years when they take their third grade PARCC or SBAC examinations...."

Dr. Dea Conrad-Curry's insight:

Yes, most college Freshman are the children of parents who themselves attended college, so I understand that to promote the ideas of college and concepts of collegiate success, schools need to fill the void of that possibility in the minds of those kids who don't have parents who attended college. We do need to talk to our kids about what they want to be when they grow up...even as early as five or six. That talk stretches their imagination and gives them freedom of expression avoiding such talk limits. I don't care if the talk is frivolous...frivolity is a good thing! On the other hand, I know many adults who can date the decision of their own professions having come at an early age...as early as six or seven...and my own children are among them.

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Moving from Content to Standards: Today! | Partner in Education

Moving from Content to Standards: Today! | Partner in Education | Common Core ELA_Literacy | Scoop.it
Dr. Dea Conrad-Curry's insight:

As a teacher of English in a high school of around 1800 students, I was privileged to work with true professionals and a diverse student population. Through that work, we wrote and won grants to support standards based instruction and integrated curricula. Today's budgetary constraints keep too many teachers from doing the good they would like to do...but by adopting standards based classrooms, I believe they can teach kids disciplinary concepts, tools, and approaches or skills that will take them much further than simple recall of vocabulary definitions, formulaic tricks, facts and minutia. My student's note to me is a testimony to this truth.    

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Common Core-Linked Tests Spur Schools to Teach Typing

Common Core-Linked Tests Spur Schools to Teach Typing | Common Core ELA_Literacy | Scoop.it
With schools set to take their first Common Core-aligned tests, many of which will be on computers, schools are in a rush to make sure students know how to type.
Dr. Dea Conrad-Curry's insight:

Wish more parents, those whining about how their kids can't use the computer for testing, could see what kids really think. Now...don't get me wrong...I know some kids struggle with the computer and those children should have alternatives. On the other hand, too many parents don't know their children's capabilities and attempting to keep them from assessment because they don't like the vehicle is just plain wrong.

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Nine questions: What does it even mean to oppose the Common Core? | The Thomas B. Fordham Institute

"When it comes to immigration reform, it’s easy to understand what the hard-right candidates oppose: any form of amnesty for people who entered the country illegally.

"But what does it mean when Ted Cruz, or Rand Paul, or Bobby Jindal says he “opposes” the Common Core? Reporters* might ask them...."


Dr. Dea Conrad-Curry's insight:

Opposition to policy is freedom of speech, but offering options in the face of opposition is a responsibility.

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High Achievers, Tracking, and the Common Core

High Achievers, Tracking, and the Common Core | Common Core ELA_Literacy | Scoop.it

Tom Loveless discusses the danger that the Common Core will hold back gifted math students in disadvantaged schools even as the parents of suburban students rally to demand accelerated options....


"A curriculum controversy is roiling schools in the San Francisco Bay Area.  In the past few months, parents in the San Mateo-Foster City School District, located just south of San Francisco International Airport, voiced concerns over changes to the middle school math program. The changes were brought about by the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).  Under previous policies, most eighth graders in the district took algebra I.  Some very sharp math students, who had already completed algebra I in seventh grade, took geometry in eighth grade. The new CCSS-aligned math program will reduce eighth grade enrollments in algebra I and eliminate geometry altogether as a middle school course. 

Dr. Dea Conrad-Curry's insight:

Tracking has always been an issue...and what constitutes tracking is argued among many or even most. In reading this article, what is defined as tracking is surely not the kind of tracking my high school engaged in when I first started teaching in 1987. See what you think...

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Testing Scuffles Persist, Cast Doubt on Common-Core Assessments

Testing Scuffles Persist, Cast Doubt on Common-Core Assessments | Common Core ELA_Literacy | Scoop.it
Assessment continues its uphill push for support, with recent outcroppings of opposition in Arizona, Indiana and Chicago.
Dr. Dea Conrad-Curry's insight:

Of course...and they will continue.

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Common Core State Standards aren't so easy to replace | The Thomas B. Fordham Institute

Editor's note: This post was originally published in a slightly different form as an op-ed in the Washington PostIt was subsequently republished in the Denver PostTampa Bay TimesSalt Lake TribuneTampa TribunePhiladelphia InquirerCommercial AppealPost and CourierPost-StandardNews TribuneNews Journaland Capital Times.


"Crying “Dump it!” might be good politics. But any high standards will look a lot like Common Core." Michael J. Petrilli and Michael Brickman

Dr. Dea Conrad-Curry's insight:

Yes, this has appeared in a number of publications probably because the point is well-taken.

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Common Core’s unintended consequence? - The Hechinger Report

Common Core’s unintended consequence? - The Hechinger Report | Common Core ELA_Literacy | Scoop.it

According to many teachers, experts and advocates of the Common Core, traditional curriculum sources haven’t been meeting the demands of the new set of math and English standards that have been rolled out in more than 40 states in the past few years. More and more teachers are scrapping off-the-shelf lessons and searching for replacements on the Internet or writing new curriculum materials themselves.



"The Center on Education Policy (CEP), a nonpartisan research group, reports that in roughly two-thirds of districts in Common Core states, teachers have developed or are developing their own curricular materials in math (66 percent) and English Language Arts (65 percent). In more than 80 percent of districts, the CEP found that at least one source for curriculum materials was local — from teachers, the district itself or other districts in the state.


"Soon-to-be-published research conducted by William Schmidt and the Center for the Study of Curriculum at Michigan State University seems to confirm teachers’ predicament. “We looked at 35 of the most commonly used [math] series that are out there in the field right now, used by about half of the kids in the country,” said Schmidt, University Distinguished Professor and co-director of the Education Policy Center. “Most of these materials don’t line up, and when you look at an individual set of materials, as much as half of the book might not be relevant to the standards at that grade level.”

Dr. Dea Conrad-Curry's insight:

An excellent source for teachers not mentioned in this article is that provided through Achieve the Core and the Achieve EQuIP Exemplars. Although I support Teachers Pay Teachers and have items for sale on that website myself, (Doctor Dea's TpT Store) although my items are tools to create units and units themselves.


The benefits of the EQuIP exemplar are twofold: they have been written by educators and reviewed through a rigorous process to determine alignment with the standards. Lesson available on TpT or Basal Alignment Project have not been scrutinized and evaluated against a Common Core measurement tool. Regardless, be sure to check out the links provided. 

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Dr. Dea Conrad-Curry's curator insight, March 2, 1:01 PM

An excellent source for teachers not mentioned in this article is that provided through Achieve the Core and the Achieve EQuIP Exemplars. Although I support Teachers Pay Teachers and have items for sale on that website myself, (Doctor Dea's TpT Store) although my items are tools to create units and units themselves.


The benefits of the EQuIP exemplar are twofold: they have been written by educators and reviewed through a rigorous process to determine alignment with the standards. Lesson available on TpT or Basal Alignment Project have not been scrutinized and evaluated against a Common Core measurement tool. Regardless, be sure to check out the links provided. 

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Can gifted education survive the Common Core? | The Thomas B. Fordham Institute

Previous research by Fordham and others has made clear that the pre-Common Core era has not done well by high achievers in the United States. Almost all the policy attention has been on low achievers, and, in fact, they’ve made faster gains on measures such as NAEP than have their high-achieving classmates. Gifted children, in our view, have generally been short-changed in recent years by American public education, even as the country has awakened to their potential contributions to our economic competitiveness and technological edge. It would therefore be a terrible mistake for the new Common Core standards, praiseworthy as we believe they are, to become a justification for even greater neglect.Higher standards are no excuse to ditch gifted services. Chester E. Finn, Jr. and Amber M. Northern, Ph.D.

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ACT Names Marten Roorda Next CEO

"During his 12-year tenure at Cito, Roorda led the $100 million organization with 600 employees to international recognition for its work in learning analytics and adaptive testiDng. Roorda is also the longest-serving member of the Association of Test Publishers (ATP) Board of Directors.


"Roorda said, “Globally, the landscape of assessment is changing. There is a spirited debate about the meaning of testing for society. These changes offer organizations such as ACT opportunities to align the needs of their customers with the exciting innovations that are taking place in our field.


"Retiring CEO, Jon Whitmore, stated, “During my five years at ACT, two of our most important priorities have been internationalism and innovation. With Marten Roorda’s selection, I’m pleased we will continue to move forward in these areas, while at the same time building on our unrivaled reputation for excellence in assessment.”

Dr. Dea Conrad-Curry's insight:

I will be interested to see what further changes may come to ACT testing with this new leadership. Over the last five years, we have clearly seen ACT go after a global market while, interestingly, embrace the Common Core State Standards here at home. Have you looked at ACT's CCRS lately? Check them out for alignment to Common Core.

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Dr. Dea Conrad-Curry's curator insight, March 2, 11:49 AM

I will be interested to see what further changes may come to ACT testing with this new leadership. Over the last five years, we have clearly seen ACT go after a global market while, interestingly, embrace the Common Core State Standards here at home. Have you looked at ACT's CCRS lately? Check them out for alignment to Common Core.

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Testing based on Common Core standards starts this week - US News

Testing based on Common Core standards starts this week - US News | Common Core ELA_Literacy | Scoop.it

STOCKPORT, Ohio (AP) — On Tuesday, Ohio will be the first to administer one of two tests in English language arts and math based on the Common Core standards developed by two separate groups of states. By the end of the school year, about 12 million children in 29 states and the District of Columbia will take them, using computers or electronic tablets.

"The exams are expected to be more difficult than the traditional spring standardized state exams they replace. In some states, they'll require hours of additional testing time because students will have to do more than just fill in the bubble. The goal is to test students on critical thinking skills, requiring them to describe their reasoning and solve problems.

"The tests have multimedia components, written essays and multi-step calculations needed to solve math problems that go beyond just using rote memory. Students in some states will take adaptive versions in which questions get harder or easier depending on their answers...."


But there's been controversy.

Dr. Dea Conrad-Curry's insight:

These assessments had promised quick turnaround on testing results...assessments completed on a computer were to have data available as quickly as 24-48 hours. Now I read fall results? What happened?

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How the Common Core Frustrates Suburban Parents

How the Common Core Frustrates Suburban Parents | Common Core ELA_Literacy | Scoop.it

"Ultimately, the blurring between Common Core fact and fiction reveals a major flaw in the implementation of the program. No one group or individual took the lead in informing parents what the standards actually look like in the classroom and how it would affect their kids. Without political and education leaders providing valid, fact-based justifications for the new testing system and a clear, jargon-free explanation of new teaching strategies, suburban parents are easily influenced by others.

"Parents need to understand why a new universal set of standards is important, particularly parents in good school districts where schools are working well. They need to know how their kids will benefit from this program—and if their kids won’t benefit, parents need to know why these test results serve the larger public good, that they can help shape policies that will help others. Parents need to know that their kids will continue to be graded based on their teachers’ assessments and that the tests really serve to provide data for administrators and political leaders who can set policies based on students’ overall performance. Parents need to know how the Common Core differs from previous state curricula and how it will affect their kids on a daily basis. Simple facts—that the Common Core does not prescribe certain textbooks, for example—would go a long way in dispelling confusion...."

Dr. Dea Conrad-Curry's insight:

Change is hard, especially for those who haven't really been following what is about to happen--the assessment of Common Core Standards which have been in place throughout the country for four years. Parents believe in their schools and that belief has left them a bit uninformed about the upcoming assessment. Why? Because for the most part, teachers were uninformed about the assessment. And for that, they are not to blame. States were bouncing around like ping-pong balls trying to decide to go PARCC, SBAC, Aspire, or write their own assessment. Heck, some states still haven't decided what to do. And in that, someone forgot to invite the parents to the party. 

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Dr. Dea Conrad-Curry's curator insight, February 16, 5:38 PM

Parents are worried about the amount of time testing will take because for many, this is the first time anyone has ever made such a big deal over a practice that has been going on for YEARS!

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Is Common Core too hard for kindergarten? | The Thomas B. Fordham Institute

Is Common Core too hard for kindergarten? | The Thomas B. Fordham Institute | Common Core ELA_Literacy | Scoop.it

"There’s no reason to think that Common Core’s literacy benchmarks are too hard for kindergarten. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, two out of three kindergarteners already recognize the letters of the alphabet, both in upper and lower cases, when they enter kindergarten—and that’s one of the “foundational skills” expected under Common Core. (Parents would surely be alarmed if, by the end of kindergarten, their kids did not know their ABCs.) A similar number (61 percent) come into kindergarten with two or more Common Core “print concepts” under their cognitive belts, such as knowing that English text is read from left to right and from the end of one line to the beginning of the next. Most of the individual kindergarten reading standards say that small children should be able to demonstrate skills such as answering questions or retelling key details about a story “with prompting and support.” When you ask your child a question such as “What do you think will happen next?” while reading out loud from Goodnight Moon or Make Way for Ducklings, that’s offering “prompting and support.” There’s no suggestion in Common Core that children should meet these standards as independent readers during or at the end of kindergarten.There’s no such thing as too much, too soon in reading...." Robert Pondiscio

Dr. Dea Conrad-Curry's insight:

In some areas, my children made faster progress outside of school. I remember by daughter asking me what my brain was thinking as we watched the Chinese Geese slip into the open water surrounded by the drifts of frozen snow. A kindergartener, she told me the water must be warmer than sitting on the ice--and frankly, I'd never even considered the thought. But you know what? She was intuitively right....we don't give children enough credit for their curiosity and problem solving skills. There is no such thing as learning too much or too soon, period.

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The Common Core Just Might be the Greatest (or Worst) Thing to Happen to DLLs - EdCentral

The Common Core Just Might be the Greatest (or Worst) Thing to Happen to DLLs - EdCentral | Common Core ELA_Literacy | Scoop.it

"

Indeed, the promise of the CCSS for DLLs rests partly on their emphasis of language. Experts like Temple University’s Carol Scheffner Hammer report that these students need far more targeted language instruction than they usually receive in U.S. schools. According to a brief by DLL advocacy coalitionCalifornians Together, the CCSS provide many potential opportunities for these students. Specifically, language development is emphasized across the standards. In particular, they require teachers to target students’ vocabulary and oral language development and build greater understanding of literacy and language.

In addition, the standards’ focus on collaboration, active engagement and inquiry could encourage DLLs to interact more frequently with peers in academic conversations and support integration of what the coalition calls “the 4C’s: communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity.” As a result, some school districts are paying increased attention to the development of DLLs’ oral academic language."

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EQuIP Call to Action

Dr. Dea Conrad-Curry's insight:

Achieve is looking for educators and curriculum developers to submit units that focus on the areas identified by experts and practitioners:

  • Speaking and Listening:  Grades 2 – 5
  • Supports for English Learners:  Grades 2 – 5
  • Topical Reading and Writing:  Grades 4 – 8

Open the PDF for details on specific standards and outcomes desired.

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Close reading a focus of new literacy effort

Close reading a focus of new literacy effort | Common Core ELA_Literacy | Scoop.it
Reading is believing.

At least, that’s what District 833 administrators hope as they take the next step toward implementing a concept known as close reading.

Parents and teachers took close reading for a test drive Jan. 29 at the District Program Center as part of the Parent University educa...
Dr. Dea Conrad-Curry's insight:

My insight...the parents were involved in this after-school training and what they found was an active involvement within their own brain as the presenter lead them through a close reading of the Gettysburg Address. Well and good...commendable. I have been suggesting that schools have back to school math nights but I hadn't even though of doing a close reading study. However, in the article, close reading is described this way:


"One of the key components of close reading is to focus on informational, or non-fiction text. In addition to studying novels or storybooks, children would devote an equal amount of time to reading a piece of factual writing multiple times, with a different goal in mind for each pass."


That is neither an accurate definition or understanding of close reading nor is it useful. Close reading was first devised as a way to understand literature not prose. Yes, it can be applied to high quality prose but not exclusively. AND close reading is not reading multiple times with a "different goal in mind for each pass." Indeed, many teachers have been told that is the case and are indeed approaching close reading that way...but that is no more than strategy instruction--the kind of instruction that lead many readers nowhere and instead resulted in mindless worksheet activities.  

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Rising to the Challenge | Achieve

Rising to the Challenge | Achieve | Common Core ELA_Literacy | Scoop.it

Washington, D.C. – December 17, 2014 - A new national survey released by Achieve – Rising to the Challenge: Are High School Graduates Prepared for College and Work? – shows that approximately 50% of recent high school graduates report gaps in preparation for life after high school.  

“Recent high school graduates are telling us that they left high school unprepared for the expectations they faced in college or in the work place,” said Sandy Boyd, chief operating officer of Achieve. “Policymakers should take note and create an environment where college and career ready standards—which all states now have—are translated into high expectations for all students. Until states set gradation policies that match their academic standards and support rigorous instruction, too many recent graduates will continue to feel underprepared for their next steps.”

The survey, which is a follow-up to an earlier survey conducted by Achieve in 2004, found that the perceived rigor of high school is largely unchanged in the past decade.

“The results show us that there continue to be shortcomings in the educational expectations for students, with real consequences when they confront the demands of college or work after high school,” said Geoff Garin, president of Hart Research Associates, which conducted the survey in partnership with Public Opinion Strategies. “Only one in four recent graduates reports that their high school set high academic expectations, which is the same scenario we found ten years ago. Many students are able to easily obtain a high school diploma, but too many find themselves unprepared once they arrive in college or in the working world.”

Most recent high school graduates say they experience a lack of preparedness in at least one subject.

  • 49% of college students and 43% of non-students report large gaps in one or more subject areas.
  • 83% of college students and 81% of non-students report at least some gaps in one or more subject areas.
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Common Core math experts say teachers need to stop using shortcuts and math ‘tricks’

Common Core math experts say teachers need to stop using shortcuts and math ‘tricks’ | Common Core ELA_Literacy | Scoop.it
Think back to your elementary school math classes. Were you told to think of a greater-than sign as Pac-Man or to cross-multiply when dividing fractions? You weren’t alone. Tricks to help kids get t
Dr. Dea Conrad-Curry's insight:

Again, a math reference on an ELA site...but this is so important. Whenever I'm asked to speak about the math standards, this is part of my standard talk: the easily remembered mnemonics did not teach me how math works, they only reminded me a memorized process in order to get through the problem. Effective in the short run--disabling over the longterm.

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Kit Kats vs Snickers to teach argument/opinion writing

Kit Kats vs Snickers to teach argument/opinion writing | Common Core ELA_Literacy | Scoop.it
Here's an idea for motivating students to research and then design an argument--use candy bars. I did this with a group of sixth grade students. There were two teams of four students and each team ...
Dr. Dea Conrad-Curry's insight:

Great idea and resources cited, too. I used to have my high school students write arguments on the cars they wanted to purchase or drive when they turned sixteen--their research came from Consumer Reports. The performance task was always successful...girls and boys both look forward to getting their  license and the freedom that comes with that. But, for younger kids, I like the candy idea.

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