Category Archives: Common Core

History of the SBAC and How it Rose to a Nationwide Movement

The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) was created in 2010 with the aim of producing a universal assessment system to help students be well prepared for college and careers. The creation of the tests aimed to produce a vigorous assessment of the new, challenging common core state standards (CCSS) and help educators and school districts align teaching to these new standards. The SBAC originally consisted of a consortium of 30 states that submitted a proposal for a $178m federal grant to develop a new, groundbreaking series of tests for students. In 2014 the federal grant came to an end and the SBAC was transferred to UCLA and became a public agency.


The SBAC is funded by the memberships of the 16 states, that currently offer the tests, and all tests have been available for students to take since April 2015. Testing costs around $28 per student for the full package of resources and although it can cost states a significant amount of money to introduce, the resources that are included can actually end up saving money and time for educators. Around 220 colleges nationwide accept the high school summative SBAC tests as evidence for college readiness for credit level courses.


The progressive tests were created using a dynamic process of field-testing and in Spring 2014, 4.2 million students took the first field tests which facilitated the evaluation of over 19,000 assessment items. This allowed for the first set of achievement standards to be set, which were a starting point for discussion about achievement standards across the states that took part and as a baseline measure for the future.


The SBAC is designed to be a valid and reliable approach to student assessment, providing actionable data to provide interventions to help students succeed. For states offering the tests, the SBAC provides three components developed by nearly 5000 teachers nationwide:


  • Formative and practice assessments with a digital library of resources for students and educators.
  • Interim assessments
  • Summative assessments towards college and career readiness in English, Language Arts and Math


The SBAC summative tests are available for students in grade 3-8th and high school and are all administered via an interactive online platform. The tests take between 2.5 – 4 hours for each component and are either marked digitally or by qualified professional scorers. The marks for each assessment are available in 2-3 weeks for parents, educators and students. Each student receives a result of 1,2,3 or 4 on each test with 1 representing a student who is minimally qualified and 4 a student who is thoroughly qualified.


The movement towards rigorous and valid assessment helps both states and the nation ensure that students are leaving high school with a diploma that prepares them for adult life. The SBAC provides a way to ensure that every student succeeds and every school district is accountable for that because of the tests.


Comparing laptops to computers; what is best for your student?

Computers came into existence a long time ago. From the size of a football field, to a room, to a table and now to a lap; computer systems have also progressed as the World has moved forward. Being permitted only to influential offices when they were initially introduced and only being operated by a professional, now they have been given access to every human on earth. As a student, it becomes a tad tough to decide whether laptops are better or computers are more appropriate. Thereby, we shall see the pros and cons of various aspects of both, as to decide which one will serve the purpose better.

  1. Cost price: Due to the fact that desktop computers are larger and have more than one component attached to them that can vary per package, the prices are also in a wide array. However, the lowest price you must pay with the maximum number of gadgets is also pretty minimal and you can still attain a perfectly good setup. On the other hand, laptops do not have that much hassle attached to them, but to have the best package like speed, memory space, durability and sleekness you must pay a lot more. Thereby, judging by pricing, laptops can be heftier on the pocket of a student or an educational institution if they want the best one available in market.
  1. Handiness: Desktop computers not only have a monitor but also a processor that is quite heavy. To transport it from one place to another you need quite some time and effort. Furthermore, all the wires attached to a switchboard, to the monitor and the keyboard also need to be detached and carried along making it a very troublesome process. Howbeit, laptops have everything they need in their system so you can merely pick it up and put it in another place. As a student, that is the biggest advantage you can get because you can carry it wherever you want.
  1. Processor power: Since desktop computers have a larger sized processor, the power it harnesses is also proportional to its size. This means that more activities that involve heavy power can be done on the computer like gaming. Laptops have smaller sized and lesser powered systems, on which you cannot do very dynamic activities. In case of students, it depends on the type of study they have and how much work they need off the system. If the student is a graphic designing course, he must prefer a computer because they can install all his software easily. On the other hand, if they are fifth graders, a laptop will do just fine.
  1. Assembling: Arranging, setting and starting up a desktop computer is a cumbersome process owing to the large number of components involved. Thereby, it also takes up more area. To the contrary, laptops only need to be inserted with a battery the first time, and every time after you just need to click the power button to get it in use. So, for educational institutes that install them or students, laptops can save a lot of precious time, as well as space in the room. 
  1. Keyboards: In case of desktop computers, you need to purchase an additional keyboard, but there are so many options to choose from. There are different sizes, various types, numerous colors and eye-catching themes to your liking. In the case of laptops, the good part is that the keyboard is already installed so you need not buy an additional one, however you cannot customize it to your liking. Again, their ease to a student depends on the type of educational program he/she is in. If they need a larger keyboard with more features, then a computer would do. However, if his scope of studies does not require any fancy keyboards, a laptop is all he/she needs.
  1. Size of screen: In the case of screen size, both the subjects at hand are equal. Monitors, whether of the laptop or the desktop computer, come in all size ranges. You can pick the one you want. Both of them can also be connected to any external monitor like a television screen with a single cable so you need to worry about the size.
  1. Improvement: Everything changes after a while, new advancements and gadgets come into existence and you think about updating. Since the desktop computer has all externally attached components, you can change any one of them at any time as per your requirements. Diversely, the laptops and their components are not removable, meaning that you cannot upgrade them except for the hard-disk, memory and such. You can only purchase a brand new laptop. In this case, desktop computers have a clear advantage because as soon as a component wears out becomes out-dated you can change it.
  1. Repair: Same goes the case for repair. Since the components can easily come off, you can repair them, replace them and upgrade them with ease. However, laptops usually need to be sent to an expert to get it back into shape because you cannot repair it on your own, neither can you replace any component. Here, also desktop computers have a significant advantage.
  1. Fashion statement: Well, we cannot rule out the trends of the modern world can we? And that is laptops. While desktop computers still exist, they are now being considered obsolete, and laptops are readily taking their place more or less because of their portability and smoother designing. So if you want to follow the bandwagon effect, or simply to fit into your surroundings, a laptop will be a more probable choice.

In conclusion, whether you need a desktop computer for your student or a laptop, depends widely on the subject of the study, the requirements of the syllabus, the classroom ethics and the ease of the student. After assessing all these factors in light of the pros and cons mentioned above, the student plus the teacher can decide which of them is more suited.

Which headphones can be used on Chromebooks?

Chromebooks are making a wave in the markets. A Chromebook is basically a laptop that has chrome as its operating system instead of windows. Based on these qualities of being easily functional, internet connected, transferable and sleek style, Chromebooks are the latest sensations in the world of technology. Once you have one on your desk, you should also have the latest gadgets to compliment it. Imagine having the coolest invention in town, but a shabby headphone set beside it. That totally kills the looks of it. So let’s make sure you know about all the latest things that you can buy for your Chromebook:

Headphones & Microphones:

If you dislike the headset mic because you don’t like it dangling on your neck, or you have face neck stiffness issues due to it; worry no more!  You can use the newest FlamingoMic. As the name itself indicates, it can coil up like a flamingo around your computer with the capabilities of extension and notation. Plus, it works when you plug it in your USB port so no need to go for tedious gadgets. By this, you can work with your hands easily; all the while the plug keeps connected.

GE Universal All in One Stereo Headset is a very trendy gadget and you’ll love it! The adapters it has have the ability to connect to more than one device. Apart from the Chromebook (3.5mm connector) it is easily connected to mobile phones and tablets. However, it is significant to note that Chromebooks only support 3.5mm TRRS connectors that are not found normally. This headset works great because it has an added TRRS connector with it so that you can attach it to the Chromebook easily.

Going out in the public can be very annoying if you’re bothered by the city noises of rushing cars, chirping birds, mumbling people and working machines. In order to make sure that these noises do your sanity no harm you can get a headphone with a built in microphone. But it’s better to go without controls because they have not been known to work well with Chromebooks.

Another happy thing to know is many companies are producing wireless headphone to go with Chromebooks so that you can put them in your ears and walk around a specified distance from your Chromebook and still be able to hear sound.

Flexible LED light
Ever had one of those situations when the power is off, or your roommate wants to sleep but you still have work to do? No need to fret about it anymore! Turn off the lights and purchase a flexible LED light to connect to your Chromebook via the USB port!  Not only are these lightweight yet brightly colored, they are also portable so you can use them while you travel and can fit snugly in the Chromebook bag.


Ah, time to flaunt off those looks. Contingent with the sort of Chromebook you’re using you’ve either got a good innate HD Webcam that do wonders with GTalk and Google+ owing to its Hangout feature or you’ve got an alright VGA webcam. Both of these types work great if your only webcam activity is talking to your mother in the other country. But if you’re involved in larger projects with your company, you might need to upgrade to a better webcam. There are plenty of them available in the market but you need to check if they are compatible with the ports of the Chromebook because that’s the only issue Chromebooks have.


Chromebooks support Samsung’s own mouse series so what’s better than having one of those at hand. You only need to put the plug in the USB port and the mouse starts working fine. However, Chromebook Series 3 has a slightly different outlook and they have only one USB 2.0 port. This means that the one USB port shall be left undecided between using that mouse or the LED light or your headset. In this case, you might need to buy an additional USB hub so that all your systems are on the go simultaneously. The Apple Magic Mouse is currently the finest Bluetooth Mouse and Chromebook accessory in the market. Nonetheless, they also charge a handsome amount for giving you that luxury.

Sleeve, Case or Bag

Chromebooks are sleek looking but you do need to cover them up to keep them working for longer! Not only does a bag protect them from dust, dirt and other grimes, it will also keep it a tad protected if you let it slip out of your hands and onto the ground. Furthermore, a bag can help you keep its accessories like the mouse in it so you have everything organized and under full control. If you want to go easy on the pocket, buy a simple yet effective neoprene sleeve. Molded cases on the other hand, may be a little pricey but they shall also be an investment for the long run. Messenger bags can be fun because they have loads of choices you can choose from so you can select your favorite type.


Another essential commodity is speakers, especially if its movie night! So you can buy a pair at your local shop because all Chromebooks support an audio-out jack. However, any different type of speakers may need another port. Chromebooks can also connect to Bluetooth speakers so that minimizes the problems associated to ports.


The Chromecast is an exceptional device that permits you to stream what’s on your Chromebook to any HDMI screen or projector. Think about all the movies you could watch or the presentations you could present with this little gadget up your sleeve.


It’s true that accustoming yourself to a new invention can be quite bothersome, and the list of gadgets that go with it and that don’t is also very cumbersome to memorize. But once you get the knack of it, you can enjoy accessory shopping for your new Chromebook, adding to your collection bit by bit.

The Ultimate Cheat Sheet on Hygiene Solutions for Headphones in the Classroom

Earphones and headphones have become a real phenomenon in the modern world. Just plug them in the ears and listen whatever you want in a clear way without any interference and disturbance. They are used domestically as well as away from the home. This is a media device to be fixed on the ears. Although several alterations have been made in the structure and working of the headphones, but still they are associated with one task and that is better for a clearer impact of any sound on the ear drums. Today, these headphones come in numerous varieties. They can be tiny enough to fix within your ears, they are cordless and some with long cords to connect to the output device.

These headphones are used extensively in the educational institutions these days. From the tiny ones in the early years to the teens in the higher secondary schools; they are being used at all levels. They are connected to the device that can help in aiding the students in their education. They can help in all possible ways to deliver the lecture in the class. Once installed in the computer laboratories or the classrooms, they are used by multiple individuals. Hence, to maintain the quality it is essential to keep the headphones clean. This would not just ensure the clear sound, but is also essential from the hygiene point of view.

It is very important to keep the earphones clean in the classroom, as the young ones can very easily catch the infection even from the slightest reason behind it. The result can be a slight to a major infection. Generally there are two causes that might compel you to look for the cleaning of the headphones in the classrooms.

  1. Bacterial exposure: Once the headphones are in the use, they are exposed to all external factors that can cause infections. These include dirt, germs, dust, and bacteria. Once they get accumulated on the headphone, they can move from one ear to the other. The ears already have a great deal of bacterial deposits which can multiply with the use of headphones.
  2. Ear Wax: It is essential to keep away all harmful insects from the ears, but once on the headphones they can be a real monster. The transfer of wax from one ear to another can be a real hygiene menace for the younger users in the classroom. Sometimes the wax even blocks the ear canal, preventing the sound from reaching the ears properly. Hence, like anything too much of the wax is not good.

If you are using the headphones for long and have found the signs of any deposit on the headphone that you think can be a danger sign for the young users, then it is the time to start cleaning them, before the child comes to you with the painful ear or parent complaints so. The best ways to clean your headphones that are really easy and handy can be as follows:

  1. Get a dry toothbrush to clean out the accumulated hazards on the headphone. When using the headphones, usually one can witness that the ear wax deposits more on the wide screen metal. The tooth brush easily scrubs away the wax and keeps away the un-hygienic bodies in the headphone.
  2. Toothpick that must be clean and preferably a new one from the box can be helpful in removing the wax from the tips made out of silicon. They are great to remove the wax in the studio style head phones. It works well if you want to scratch out the largest accumulations of the wax.
  3. If there is heavy accumulation of the wax, then the best option is to replace the silicon tips with new ones. Thus, replacing those means, all of the bacteria have been thrown away. Once changed, regular cleaning is a must to avoid future heavy accumulations.

Thus, it is not a big job to keep the headphones clean. You can do this with simple accessories available around you. It is also recommended to use a solution of dish washing soap and warm water to clean the headphones. The solution is applied to the soft piece of cloth and then the headphones are cleaned, ensuring that no infectious bacteria are left. While using the solution, it is highly recommended to keep the water away from going into the headphones. Otherwise, there are chances that the headphones are broken or damaged. Once cleaned with the solution they must be properly dried with a dry cloth and not plugged in immediately.

In order to ensure, the hygiene of the headphones, one important thing is to tell the students about the healthy ear conditions. The students must be well aware of the importance of the ear hygiene. The cleanliness of the ears and the headphones, both can guarantee the hygiene in the classroom.

In order to ensure the health of the ears by maintaining the headphone hygiene it is important to consider the following points:

  • Every student must be provided with a set of personal headphones, each marked with his own name. The sharing can be really un-hygienic.
  • Leatherette or foam ear cushions must be replaced regularly if the headphones already in use are given to someone else too.
  • The replacing of the windscreens or the microphone covers along with the voice tubes is also significant.
  • Leatherette or foam ear cushions must be immediately removed and changed if there is clogging witnessed.
  • There must be regular cleaning of headset plastics, consoles, and equipment with the help of antibacterial agents.
  • The parts in direct contact with the ears must be replaced regularly.
  • Using the disposable sanitary headphone covers ensures sterile usage.

These tips can be effective in minimizing the un-hygienic impact of the headphones. They can lead to the safe listening to the students. They ensure that each child in the classroom enjoys healthy learning.

How to Solve the Biggest Problems with Technology Hurdles

The majority of school districts across the country have been using technology in the classroom since the 1990’s, but that doesn’t mean they have worked out all of the kinks just yet. In fact, there are still many teachers and students who are struggling to incorporate technology into a classroom setting without it impacting the quality of learning. To give you a better idea of how to deal with these common tech-related issues, here’s a look at a few ways you can go about solving the biggest problems with technology hurdles in terms of education.


Students Use The Internet As A Crutch

The internet sure is a wonderful learning tool if it is used correctly, but it isn’t as easy as it seems. Most students will be quick to hop on the world wide web in order to find out the answer to questions, which subsequently prohibits critical thinking. Although, the easiest way to prevent students from turning to the internet for answers is to eliminate devices from the classroom during quiz and test times.


The Web Keeps Students Distracted

If you are worried about your students browsing the internet and spending time on social media during class but still want them to be able to use the classroom laptops or tablets, you may want to consider installing a filtered browser on the devices. These classroom-approved browers restrict access to websites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. However, this is of course not an option if the student is choosing to use his or her own device. If this is the case, you may want to establish that only predesignated gadgets can be used in the classroom. This will allow you more control over how technology is being used by students.


Technology Changes Quickly

Yet another technology hurdle faced by school districts is the ever-changing industry. There are always new devices, new versions of software or new tools available, making it difficult to keep up when working with a minimal budget. To make the integration easy and more affordable, some school districts team up with technology companies who help them make hardware and software budget-friendly.


As you can see, there are still some things that need improving when it comes to technology in the classroom. Use these tips to help you solve those problems in order to ensure your students are getting the very best education possible in today’s tech-centric world.

Different kinds of plugs for classroom headphones

Times have changed; the life is under the great influence of technology. There is not a single day or single moment where we don’t apply the technology. From our small bedrooms to the offices, from your railway stations to the banks, from the kitchen to the airports nothing remains detached from the technology. The same is happening with the schools these days. The traditional ways of dealing with the students through the books is almost over now. The students have become more exploring and enjoy discovering out of the world of books. This has brought about a considerable change in the methods of education. Today the students require enough time to be spent in the audio visual rooms, along with the time they need to spend in the classroom. Due to this addition to the curriculum the school stuff has changed a bit. Along with the basics tools including the pencil, pens, colors and crayons the students need headphones too. Today almost all the schools have changed their mode of education, and opted for the modern ways like iPads, laptops and computers as a part of their curriculum. The lessons are no more confined to classroom now. The teachers can prepare the audio and video records that can be played anytime while me the school. One important add-on in this regard is the headphones. The students who want to study in silence just listening to what is being delivered as a lecture can put on these headphones. For the proper working of the headphones they have to fix in the output device with the help of plugs. The better the plugs fix in, the better will be the performance of the headphone leaving no room for the interruption.

What is a plug?

The plug is the small equipment added to the headphones to make them connected with the source of the sound. Just like the ear pieces are important part of the headphone, for the better fixing and connection plug is equally essential. Generally, it ensures that a stable, non interrupting connection is being set up between the headset and the media source or the computer. You will find different types of plugs attached to the headphones. For the systems running in the school it is essential to have secure connections to guarantee the safety of the equipment being used by the young students. When you purchase the headphones the common types available in the market are of six types. These types are distinguished on the basis of the applications too. The attachment is either a headphone that facilitates listening only or it is the headset that can be used for both speaking and listening.

Styles of plugs:

  1. Double plugs: Before the advent of the digital learning the headsets were being used. For these headsets the generally, two plugs were in use. One of the plugs was used for the listening while the other was meant for carrying out the function related to speaking. These types of plugs included the 2964AV type monaural and the 306AV stereo type of the plug.
  2. Single plug: most of the headphones in practice today need to be connected with a single pug only. In the language classrooms where monaural activities are at the top of the list a single plug measuring ¼” with 2924 AV is commonly used. For the headphones that are stereo or computer based a solitary plug that measures 3.5mm is enough. One such commonly used plug is 2800-BL. These single solitary plugs come in two sub classifications: the straight plugs and the right angle plugs. Although both plugs measure the same that is 3.5mm, but there is a little difference of shape. These plugs are the connecting devices for the listening lesson series and the sound alert headphones. They were solely created for the young ones. The experts and the conscious school owners prefer that the right angle solitary plugs must be used. These plugs fix in the device well and it is not easy to pull them out. This makes them a secure preference for the young kids. Another modification currently available is the switchable headphone that comes in both versions that is the monaural and the stereo. These kinds of headphones are fitted with a plug measuring 3.5mm which also is attached with the snap-on adapter measuring ¼”.
  3. USB plugs: it is one of the recent versions. Today when all devices are depending on the USB technology, the headsets are being introduced with the USBs also. There are numerous kinds of USB plugs that are easily available in the markets. This includes 3064USB, 3068MUSB, 3066USB, 4100USB and the most recent ones in the line known as the Titanium series. Today, the USB technology has proved its worth as a fast growing technology in the field of data transfer. They are preferred because they take less time to transfer the data as compared to the earlier devices. Thus, the headphones fitted with the USB plugs are commonly suggested for the distance learning and for the entertainment applications especially games.
  4. To Go plug: this is the product of the most recent technology. the only use is in the headsets. The commonly equipped headsets include 3068 headset, 2800-xx Listening First headsets that comes in two versions solid color and the animal-themed), Discovery headset also referred as DS-8VT, Lightweight Stereo multimedia headset available in the market as 3065AVT, 3066AVT commonly known as Deluxe Multimedia Stereo headset, and the most advanced version that is the Titanium (HPK-1010T) headset. Unlike other pugs it has a third circle too which means that it can be used as a microphone too. This latest version is highly beneficial for the students who need to listen and then speak back what they have learnt. It can be connected to the mobile phones also.

Point to ponder:

When you intend to buy the plug it is important to count the rings on the tip. These small rings appear in black color. The plugs are identified with the number of rings on them. A single ringed plug is for the monaural functions. In case it has two rings, it would be a stereo.

The Technology Hurdles of SBAC Testing in the Classroom

Even giant leaps forward in technology, education and other fields comes with some setbacks or deficiencies. Often they can be worked out over time. The SBAC or Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) is one nifty example. This test gives students who are exposed to it a leg up on the question stems which are aligned with their grade level. It’s available for students in grades 3-8, and high school for the core subjects. Questioning stems refers to the way the questions might be worded and the kinds of questions that would be presented. Even the advance exposure of the SBAC brings some glitches. Clearing the hurdles is possible, but they do exist. Here are a few:

On Screen Reading

There’s a certain amount of eye strain involved in reading content on screen. Called Computer Vision Syndrome, the American Optometric Association suggests that 70% of Americans suffer from this malady. The problem presents itself as stress on the eyes. For children it may include a negative impact on their normal vision and development. The brain is said to not respond the same way to characters on the computer that they do characters on paper. Pixels and points on the screen all converge to make the images, but there is not always the fluidity people expect. There are all kinds of recommendations for writers and others who are on the computer a lot. The idea is to give the eye muscles a break. Looking away periodically is one of them. Wearing computer eyeglasses is another. For testing, students are conditioned to stay on task for the duration, so they may need retraining in order to even grasp the idea of taking short seconds long eye breaks. In addition, not all students who are prepared to take the SBAC test can go out and get an eye exam and glasses for onscreen reading.

The same difficult dynamic applies to those who take the SBAC test, as it is an online test. Students used to paper test may be some of the most difficult ones of all to struggle with taking a test where they have to constantly look at the screen.

Pause Feature

Students taking the test can put their computer on pause for up to twenty minutes. If they return and resume the test in 20 minutes or under they can return to the same section when they are done with their break. They can even go back and work on (modify, change, review) answers in that same section. If the student keeps the test on pause for longer than 20 minutes, they may not be able to do any further work on the page they were working on before the pause.

Taking Audio and Video Notes

If students are not used to taking notes from audio and video, this test may present them with some frustrations. Without the value of prior experience at note-taking from audio and video, students will often have problems keeping up with the speed of delivery of audio and video content. Students may also struggle with organizing the notes as they watch or listen to content if this balancing act is not familiar to them. The best solution for them is pre-test experience with shorthand note-taking, note-taking technology or experience organizing notes efficiently through a program like Cornell Notes (from AVID). When it comes to note-taking in general, practice makes perfect. It is more so true with taking video and audio notes.

Parents/Educators argue over Michigan’s Common Core

Six years ago, in 2010, Michigan formally adopted the newly released Common Core standards. Developed by educational leaders from almost all 50 states, they were created as a way to better unify education across all of the states in every grade level as a way to improve standards across the board to keep American children on par with their international counterparts. While still going strong, Michigan hasn’t been without its challenges.


Calls for Repeal

Even now, dissenters are trying to dismantle the state’s use of the Core. Educators think they are great but many parents argue they aren’t great enough. Many Republican lawmakers back this thought process as they fight to make Michigan an educational leader of the country. According to current statistics, only 50% of third graders have shown proficiency in reading. Because of this and a few other choice statistics, bills have entered into the Michigan system that would have the educational standards completely redone.

At its heart, the current anti-Core bill, introduced by State Senator Patrick Colbeck, would completely dump Common Core and put in its place the standards long used by Massachusetts, America’s top educational state. Even now, the small New England state has always had some of the best test scores in the country, making it understandable as to why Michigan would want to emulate them.


Standing Their Ground

Even so, the Core does have its fair share of strong supporters. Many of these individuals argue that repealing the Core now, after six years of use, would only serve to undercut the progress that has been made. In fact, only two years ago, in 2014, was a standardized test made for Core standards used in the state. In addition, the standardized test was also plagued with controversy as the school system had to do what they could to piece it together themselves after it was ruled that they would not be using the nationally developed test designed specifically for the Common Core.

Many are frustrated that such a push for continual educational change and upheaval continues. They argue that it’s not fair to the students that need consistency and stability to thrive. On top of this, the test results keep getting better each year. After the predicted slump with the new exam, scores are on the rise, highlighting that whatever is going on now is working. Why would people in the government want to interrupt this process of improvement?


As far as the Common Core is concerned in Michigan, it’s hard to say if it will stick around or be replaced. In the long run, though, it seems that the state isn’t entirely against the Core itself. In fact, the major quoted anti-Core individuals are governmental entities that aren’t directly tied to the educational system. As they work to change it, just as many, if not more, are working to keep it.

West Virginia Drops the Common Core

Back on June 2, 2010, West Virginia joined the ever growing list of states that would promise to adopt the newly proposed Common Core standards by the 2014-15 school year. They became further involved by joining the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. This group of state representatives were tasked with developing the national assessment that would then test students based on their grasp of these new standards. As of today, West Virginia is pulling out of the Core.


Climate Change

Unlike the vast majority of other states that backed out of the Common Core for fear of federal overreach, West Virginia was more concerned about the Core’s effect of the minds of the children in terms of climate change. As a state, West Virginia is an enormous supplier of the nation’s energy. This a huge part of their economy, hence why the Core became a problem with it demanded teachers teach students about climate change in a certain light.

This sore spot is what broke the camel’s back, so to speak. In February of this year, the West Virginia House of Delegates voted to go over the standards yet again and to remove any of the strategies that required instructional methods. With the work already in progress, it has been mandated to be finished by October and ready to implement in the 2017-18 school year.

Interestingly enough, though, the Core was actually repealed in 2015. After further examination, many found that last year’s repeal was in name alone as many of the core tenets still remained. This current year’s bill is there to erase those points that seem too close to the original set of standards. Yet, with this third change to classroom objectives in only seven years, the educators are finding it hard to believe these changes are actually for the good of their students.


Upset Testing

To further drive away the Core from West Virginia, the test given that was aligned with the Core proved to be less than stellar. According to results from all grade levels, only fifth graders proved to be proficient in either math or English. For all students, only 51% tested acceptable in English while a shocking 30% were so in math. To add insult to injury, West Virginia’s students performed worse than all other states that took the exam and released their results.

However, instead of blaming the Core, the Board of Education took responsibility for failing their high schoolers, addressing the fact that the state has not done all it could to prepare them for life in college and beyond. That being said, it didn’t go without some finger pointing as a few schools were singled out for not taking the test seriously.

All the same, there is still no word as to whether West Virginia will continue on with this Core aligned test now that the Core is no more in West Virginia.

Tennessee steps away from Common Core for new Testing Standards

Though it lasted for a good few years, the Common Core in Tennessee, adopted back in 2010, was officially called into question in 2015. While it was a promising beginning with a lot of support from the state itself, it eventually ran into issues when the Bradley County Commission continued to back bills that would repeal the Core altogether.


Review and Replace

Early 2015 brought about the death of the Core as Governor Bill Haslam quietly signed a bill to both review and replace the standards. This measure required the creation of two committees comprised of Tennessee educators that would review the current Core and then suggest new standards based on areas they found too challenging or too easy.

However, many still wonder if this is actually a step away from the standards or a way to rebrand them in an attempt to appease dissenters. In fact, many states have claimed to dump them only to bestow upon them a new moniker. Either way, many outside parties are stumped by Tennessee’s sudden change of heart. The Core was adopted by a governor and education commissioner that saw it as a wonderful addition to the state only to be handed down to leaders that had quite the opposite opinion.

At the start of this year, the revisions were shared with the public. Along with a name change, the new standards ranged from simple word changes to massive overhauls in areas teachers felt students would need more time, such as Algebra II. Beyond academics, the rework sought to streamline the standards, making them easier for teachers to understand and implement. As a reward, the school system may receive $3.5 million in funding, though this is still up for discussion.


A New Test

Every new standard must also come with a new test. For this, Tennessee developed the TNReady Assessment in lieu of a Common Core option. According to those in charge, this test was created in such a way that it can adapt and grow with its students and standards. For hopefuls, this statewide exam will do a better job assessing how well students are prepared to succeed once they leave school, a concern that brought about the creation of the Common Core in the first place.

Unfortunately, this, too, has fallen under scrutiny by the teacher’s themselves. Because creators wanted to make a test that couldn’t be “gamed”, they made sure it was mostly rote memorization. While this works for certain concepts, educators are upset at the test’s lack of depth. Instead of getting students to use language or math to show that they truly understand the concept, it asks them to plug numbers into a formula.

Tennessee’s Common Core is still somewhat alive in the hearts of the educators but is slowly facing defeat at the hands of the lawmakers. Luckily, at least, Tennessee created and implemented a plan to change the Core instead of dropping them like a few other states.