The National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) supporting school leaders in helping all students become college and career-ready and to succeed in post-secondary education and training
These Action Briefs for school leaders are a starting point, designed to increase awareness of the standards, create a sense of urgency around their implementation, and provide these stakeholders — who are faced with dramatically increased expectations in the context of fewer resources — with a deeper understanding of the standards and their role in implementing the standards. Achieve, in partnership with College Summit, the National Association of Secondary School Principals, and the National Association of Elementary School Principals, released this with support from MetLife Foundation.
By Alex Sczesnak, Algebra 1 Teacher, Math Department Chair, and UFT Chapter Leader at Metropolitan High School in the South Bronx*
This has been a boon for teachers everywhere; most would agree that these standards are far more focused and coherent than anything we’ve implemented previously, leading to curricula that make math meaningful for students in ways that were not previously possible."
"we’ve made a lot of progress in the past few years, and we’ve got hurdles yet to clear, but in the meantime I would encourage patience on the part of all math teachers not yet won over by the high school standards. As we become increasingly adept at mastering the expectations of the Common Core, and as more and better curricular resources are made available, I expect that teachers, administrators, students, and parents alike will find that the CCLS are a significant improvement over the way math has been taught previously."
With the oil and gas industry slowing down and laying off workers, it's easy to forget that Houston and Texas continue to suffer from a lack of qualified workers. Employers in other industries continue to compete for skilled workers and many jobs go unfilled. Part of the problem is that in addition to an underperforming public school system, the public university system is not producing enough graduates.
Skilled Worker Drought.
The Houston Chronicle (4/29, Tomlinson) reports that a new report argues that while Texas managed to grow its jobs during the recession, it also has “the highest percentage of minimum-wage workers” and a lack of skilled workers due to the following:
Low levels of college degree receipt
Low per-student funding
Poor SAT scores
High rates of low income families without college degrees
U.S. middle-school students’ performance on social studies didn’t improve much between 2010 and 2014, federal test scores show.
NAEP Releases Test Results For US Students’ Social Studies, Civics Knowledge.
The Wall Street Journal (4/29, Porter, Subscription Publication) reports that the National Assessment of Educational Progress has released its latest Federal test scores for middle and high school students’ performance in social studies, showing that the number of students scoring at or above proficiency in US history last year was 18%, an increase of one percent compared with 2010, while civics and geography scores were similarly lackluster. National Assessment Governing Board Chair Terry Mazany decried the flat-line results, but many teachers say Federal testing standards are to blame for relegating non-STEM subjects, plus reading, into a non-essential category.
The AP (4/29, Hefling) reports that 2014’s test results “were similar to those four years ago when the assessments were last administered.” While 18 percent of students were at least proficient in US history, 27 percent were proficient or better in geography, and 23 percent performed well in civics. The tests were administered by the Education Department’s National Center for Education Statistics. Also, the AP notes some trends in social studies education, which “is going digital” and increasingly involving computers.
The Huffington Post (4/29, Resmovits) reports that America’s eighth graders set “a stubbornly low bar” in the tests, having scored “no better on average than in 2010,” although the scores were “slightly improved from 1994.” National Assessment Governing Board Deputy Executive Director Mary Crovo comments for the story, while Acting National Center for Education Statistics Commissioner Peggy Carr “said there is some reason for optimism about the history results,” particularly with respect to Hispanic students.
The ACT is mandated for all high school juniors in Colorado and can help determine college placement. But the benefit of having PARCC is students take the exam over multiple years and can begin remediation before they need it in college, said Rhonda Epper, chief student academic affairs officer for the Colorado Department of Higher Education.
“PARCC provides another avenue for students to demonstrate college readiness, and it can give feedback to students about where they are with respect to skills they need early in their high school career,” Epper said. “National awareness is growing that for students who begin in remedial courses the barriers to success are extremely high.”
Cognitive scientist Daniel Willingham answers the question.
"These two facts—background knowledge is crucial to reading comprehension, and most elementary curricula are insufficiently focused on building background knowledge—are behind the emphasis on knowledge-building in the Common Core standards."
School Cuts AP Testing Requirements, Passes As Many Students As Before.
The Washington Post (4/27, Mathews) reports that Oregon’s Corbett Charter School, which the Post previously deemed one of the most challenging high schools in the US, has decided to take “the unusual step” of reducing AP offerings, “illuminating a controversy about how much challenge students in top schools need.” Corbett fell from one of the top 10 toughest schools to 41st this year because the school’s leader “softened” his approach to AP tests, which drive up the score for the rankings. Superintendent Bob Dunton said that the change came as seniors were “overwhelmed” by AP courses, often “against their wills,” which he said was “unlikely to produce positive results.” The school allowed students to opt out and take non-AP courses this year, but the school had as many passing exams as before and a record rate of passage.
Handle tasks head-on to speed student success. By Christine Fax-Huckaby
"As the Common Core State Standards have been implemented this school year, with many states in the midst of using the new standardized tests, the transition has been mired in challenges. The Common Core is a critical step toward ensuring students have the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in life beyond graduation, but teachers and students alike have been apprehensive and overwhelmed. They need greater support, more empathy, and better communication from school and district leaders to help them overcome their anxiety.
This anxiety is even more prevalent in the special education community, and as a special education academic support teacher, it’s my job to make sure teachers and students in my district are as prepared for Common Core as possible. Here’s what’s working well in our district:"
1. It diminishes the joy of reading. One of the things we love about reading is how layered the text is. If you don’t understand what’s going on in a text, it’s just less engaging. What practitioners have found is close reading can become as engaging as a video game, as students look at the vocabulary or patterns of words, at the structure and plot elements. It’s really that deep engagement that brings joy to the reading process. It becomes like a treasure hunt—in a good wa
Common Core has become a punching bag for conservatives, but the set of school standards still has its fair share of outspoken supporters, including moderate Republican governors and powerful advocacy groups such as the NAACP.
The standards — adopted voluntarily by states and heavily promoted by the Obama administration — remain especially popular among parents of minority students, even as overall support for Common Core shrinks, polls show.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich has called out fellow Republicans for seemingly turning their backs on the standards after wholeheartedly advocating them years ago. Influential groups such as the National Urban League and the National Council of La Raza also are trying to rally support.
Colorado legislation would allow people to file lawsuits against schools if an act of violence occurred that could have been prevented.
Schools have raised concerns with the bill, pointing out that expanding liability could have consequences on budgets. They also worry about schools taking radical steps, such as disciplining students simply out of fear of liability.
In the case of Davis, the shooter had a history of incidents, which the district deemed a low-level threat, despite the shooter shouting a death threat against a school employee earlier in his history.
Lawmakers addressed some concerns from schools by amending the bill to exempt a failure to suspend or expel a student. It also was amended to state that an employee is not subject to a lawsuit unless the employee’s actions are intentional or reckless. Another amendment created a two-year timeout for districts before damages would be assessed by a court. And on Thursday, the bill further was amended to exempt negligence during the timeout.
Parents should know that Common Core State Standards are:
• High academic expectations for students in English language arts and mathematics; • Internationally benchmarked expectations, similar to those in high-performing countries; • Designed by teachers and other learning experts across the country; • Informed by the most advanced and current thinking on what students should know and be able to do at each grade level; • The result of a multi-state effort to prepare all children to succeed, especially students who by necessity move from one state to the next; • Not curriculum or assessment. They are a clear set of learning expectations that local teachers and districts use to provide customized instruction that meets the needs of their students; • Aligned with the development of 21st-century skills, which are necessary for success in college and the workplace.
Equal Opportunity Schools, the College Board, International Baccalaureate, and others join forces to expand programs that encourage underrepresented student to enroll in advanced courses in high school.
Initiative To Recruit Low-Income, Minority Students To AP And IB Classes To Spend $100 Million.
Education Week (4/29, Adams) reports in its College Bound blog that education, nonprofit, and business leaders are looking to spend $100 million to boost Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate enrollment among low-income students and students of color by 100,000 in the next three years. Initiative participants include the College Board, the IB organization, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, Google, and Tableau Software, Inc, among others. Founder and CEO of EOS Reid Saaris said that the program was the “largest commitment ever to fully reflecting America’s diversity at the highest academic levels in our K-12 schools.” The program will use data from grades, surveys, and test scores to encourage students that may not otherwise take the courses to choose college-preparation classes.
More Than 12 States Report Problems With Computerized Tests.
The “Answer Sheet” blog of the Washington Post (4/25, Strauss) reports that according to the National Center for Fair and Open Testing (“FairTest”), several states have reported issues in administering their computer-based Common Core standardized tests. Citing a list of headlines from across the US, FairTest says the ongoing problems “reinforces the conclusion that the technologies rushed into the marketplace by political mandates and the companies paid to implement them are not ready for prime time.”
“Whether it’s the English test or math test, there’s a great emphasis on constructing responses to questions,” says Jeff Nellhaus, chief of assessment for PARCC.
That stands for the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers. It’s one of two multi-state consortia that shared $360 million in federal grants to create tests aligned with the common core standards. The standards focus on critical thinking, problem solving and analytic skills. Nellhaus says the old measures won’t do.
Educators Bill Zahner, Ben Spielberg, Gladis Kersaint, Denisse R. Thompson, Maria Montelvo-Balbed, and Denise Huddlestun share their suggestions for how teachers can best handle the challenge of teaching Common Core Math to English Language Learners.
"You might be thinking that it has become hard to track just what states are doing with respect to reconsidering or taking a second look at the common core. Fortunately, Dan Thatcher of the National Conference of State Legislatures has a handy map tracking reviews, executive orders, and other state actions with respect to the standards. Click here for the most recent version of that common-core map; a version of the map updated April 23 is below, with the key included:"
Three states impacted by a widespread system crash with New Hampshire-based Measured Progress. Nevada, Montana and NorthDakota contract with the company to administer the tests that are linked to hotly disputed, federally backed education standards.
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