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July 17, 2014
As state policymakers continue to grapple with Common Core State Standards (CCSS) decisions and debate which tests will be used to assess students’ progress with the new standards, educators face moving targets as they plan for the 2014–15 school year.
Newly signed legislation mandates that Michigan will not use the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) test during the 2014–15 school year. Michigan will continue to implement the Common Core standards but will revert back to its previous state assessment, which will be updated to include questions aligned with the standards. The format of the test, however, is still uncertain, leaving educators with questions about how best to prepare their students. A math teacher from the state explains the change: “Imagine that you are given a ball and told to throw it at a target. Then a second target appears and you watch an argument over which target was the real one [and] your success with the 'real' target is a portion of your job performance rating.”
Educators in Louisiana face even more uncertainties about the tests their students will take next year. Governor Bobby Jindal (R) has ended the state’s participation in the Partnership of Assessments for College and Career Readiness (PARCC), but the state board of education still plans to administer the PARCC assessment under a contract which runs through the 2014–15 school year, stating that a new test would cost millions to develop and is not guaranteed to be ready on time. Read more about the clash between the state’s school board and its executive office.
Oklahoma’s Supreme Court, meanwhile, upheld the state’s recent repeal of the Common Core standards, which had been challenged by parents, educators, and state board of education members. The decision means the state board must develop new standards; in the interim, schools are being asked to revert to the state’s previous standards just one month before the start of the new school year.
On a national level, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) passed a resolution calling for stronger teacher input during the Common Core implementation process. The union has announced a new AFT Innovation Fund grant for its members to analyze, critique, or rewrite the standards—more information will be released later this summer.
Some states, however, are moving forward with their Common Core plans, working to provide educators and schools with the resources needed to successfully implement the standards. In Connecticut, Governor Dannel Malloy (D) has pledged an additional $15 million to implement five key recommendations from the state’s Common Core Task Force of educators and parents. See the complete list of recommendations (PDF), including the facilitation of support and training to effectively transition the Common Core State Standards into district-defined curricula. In California, the department of education has released an English language arts framework for educators based on the CCSS, which includes instructional strategies for teachers and guidance for the design of instructional materials, curricula, and professional learning resources. Access the complete framework.
Common Core State Standards and Special Education
How can the Common Core standards be integrated into special-education classrooms while also allowing educators to ensure that students have individualized education plans tailored to their unique learning needs? A recent blog post tackles this issue by detailing three ways special educators can integrate the Common Core to better serve their students.
Common Core Professional Development Opportunities
ASCD now offers five new online professional development courses for educators that explore Common Core topics such as argumentative writing and speaking, engaging math practices, and literacy strategies. PD Online® courses offer educators flexible course designs that support specific PD goals, include applications linking course materials to real-world practice, and offer assessments that measure results.
To register for PD Online courses, visit www.ascd.org/pdonline or contact the ASCD Program Management Team at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-800-933-ASCD (2723). By purchasing multiple PD Online courses, educators have the opportunity to save up to 30 percent off individual course prices.
“Laci Maniscalco, a third-grade teacher in Lafayette, La., who said that sometimes her students cried during the past year when working on problems under the new curriculum, said she had seen genuine progress in their understanding—and in her own, as well. ‘I have told my students countless times that I wish I had been taught the way you are having the opportunity to learn,’ she said.”
—A New York Times article details challenges associated with implementing the Common Core math standards and educators’ experiences overcoming these issues.
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