Category Archives: SBAC Testing

Uniquely Intense Debate for Common Core Standards in New Hampshire

Though a small state, New Hampshire has been embroiled in the Common Core debate so uniquely intense on the east coast since it adopted them July 13, 2010. From that day, it has met with nothing but a storm of conflict ripping through the states closest to DC. While it’s fought off a lot of naysayers over the past few years with some compromises, it nonetheless has had to put its foot down legally to keep the Core in place.

Veto Power

Earlier this year, Governor Maggie Hassan used her power to completely veto a bill that would have prohibited every school in New Hampshire from implementing the new standards. Named Bill 101, Hassan vehemently argued that such a bill would completely undercut the state’s aim to bring their students successfully into a 21st century work force. To her, the Core represents an innovative push into the future through modernized education akin to the standards upheld in Europe and Asia.

This is in retaliation to the growing voice of opposition that appeared around 2013. Those against it paint it as a federal scheme to undermine state control of education with the temptation of desperately needed federal money as the means to get states to sign on to an otherwise optional program. Instead of debasing the voices, Hassan appealed to them directly, asking them to not focus on the Core so much as the continued authority of the local districts over how the standards are implemented and taught.

Opting Out & Flexibility

Joining many other states to do so, New Hampshire, once a staunch voice against the practice, backtracked its ideals, passing Bill 603. This now allows parents to opt their children out of the standardized testing that accompanies Common Core. Like many states, though the new curriculum holds promise, the standardized testing does not. Seen as a long time hindrance to actual education, more and more parents are quick to save their children from the joke of standardized testing they once had to endure.

To combat this, New Hampshire then agreed to work to give their schools more freedom in regards to assessing student progress. While schools do need assessments to adhere to the federal No Child Left Behind Act, the reluctance of parents to use Smarter Balance as the means by which their children are judged has forced the state’s hand. To go beyond the Common Core standardized test, New Hampshire is looking at both the SAT and ACT, two national tests that are actually used by the nation’s colleges to judge aptitude. With the Core aiming to make the children better ready for college, it would make sense that then applying that to tests that matter for their future careers should be the standard they seek to reach.

Economic Growth Hopes from Common Core in Maine

Unlike most of the other early adopters, Maine held out officially taking in Common Core until April 4, 2011. Even though a year later in enactment, opposition still arose in 2013 with the nationalization of concerns regarding the Core. While just as noisome as across the rest of the US, Maine is standing its ground against the onslaught of bills seeking to repeal the applied standards.

2014 Ballot

Adopted and implemented during the 2011 year, Maine became one of over 40 other states to agree to adhere to the Common Core standards initiative. While there were about two years of silence from the public, it was the Maine Equal Rights Center that spoke out first. In August of 2013, they declared that they would launch a petition campaign to repeal the curriculum. If it managed to collect enough signatures, 58,000, an option to fully repeal the standards would enter onto the November 2014 ballot. That many signatures would have also made it the first petition of its kind in the US. Though seemingly backed by a large amount of people, there were not enough to make it a reality, leaving the group defunct currently.

Former Governor Support

Not a few months later, former Governor, John McKernan Jr., went on record during a heavily attended conference of education to state that he very much supported the Common Core. In front of over 300 Maine educators, he declared his belief that the standards would have a positive impact on the educational lives of Maine’s students, allowing them a fighting chance at attending the best colleges around the world.

One of his main arguments was the benefit the Core could potentially have on the Maine economy. During 2013, there was a reported huge skills gap with many employers in every sector decrying the lack of skilled workers. By improving public schools, he argued, the economy would see the growth it was asking for.

Science Veto

It should be noted that Common Core only ever sought to upgrade English Language Arts and math. However, recent developments have introduced a science section. Unfortunately, current Governor Paul LePage gave his veto to a bill that would have required the implementation of Common Core science, citing budget restrictions in an already financially burdened time. While a fan of educational growth, LePage couldn’t justify forcing every school in Maine to rewrite their science curriculums.

Interestingly enough, many were disappointed. While English and math were certainly offensive enough to garner such statewide hatred, science certainly brought the two conflicting sides together, seeing this subjects as a way to foster job growth in Maine. Even still, current leaders are quick to point out that in about a year or two they plan on officially bringing in the science aspect of Common Core. Resources are stretched thin, and they need a bit more time.

Unique Consequences of Common Core in South Dakota

Of all the states to adopt Common Core, South Dakota has seen some of the most unique arguments of all the 45 states involved. Adopted November 29, 2010, the state senate has seen its fair share of bills trying to repeal the adoption altogether. As it becomes clearer that the state is going to stick with its decision to go with the Core, opponents are citing everything they can as reasons to prevent fixing it and promote flunking it.

Native American Suicide Rate

Above all the other arguments, tying the Common Core standards to increased Native American suicide rates is by far the most unique to South Dakota. Nowhere else has this argument come about. According to Republican Elizabeth May, the standards are stressing out an already taxed population of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. She firmly argues that the curriculum puts way too much pressure on the students, resulting in many not even attending school in addition to teachers quitting under the increased pressure to perform.

Parent Fighting Testing

This recent school year saw the first influx of parents fighting to keep their kids from taking the standardized test, Smarter Balanced. Back in 2014, the state actually wrote a bill that would allow parents to opt their children out of the test. Unfortunately, it was defeated 8-7 in the House Education Committee. It appeared again in early 2015 and still met with defeat.

While the parents didn’t have legal support by the state to opt their children out of the test, many did it anyway. Be it because they were tired of all of the testing or through fear of federal takeover, a small percentage of South Dakotan parents kept their children home from school the days of the test. While they only represented a tenth of a percent in regards to the total population of the state, it nonetheless confused policy makers on how to react. Though there is no legal support for opting out, there’s nothing that tells schools or officials what to do when parents decide to go this route.

Common Core Survival

In amidst this hodgepodge of debate, legislation stands strong in support of their scholastic change. Earlier this year, House Bill 1223 journeyed through the House in an attempt to repeal the Common Core. Bolstered by the budget spent on it and the years teachers spent preparing, lawmakers basically forced it out of circulation by giving it a recommendation of “do not pass”. In reaction to this, they passed a statement declaring that they would defeat any other such bills trying to worm their way through the system. Opponents decried a lack of time to hear arguments against the standards, but the committee presiding the two hour event that featured parents, teachers and officials snapped back, telling them everyone had their chance and the hearing rules were followed.

Compromise for the Common Core Standards in Tennessee

Adopted July 30, 2010 and fully implemented during the 2013-2014 school year, the Common Core in Tennessee has seen the typical back and forth. Yet in among the argued positives and negatives, many teachers are standing strong on behalf of the core, not seeing it as a federal takeover so much as an improvement in the quality of education they can offer their students.

Survey Positivity

Four years after adoption, the Tennessee Consortium on Research, Evaluation and Development pieced together information gleaned from their third annual First to the Top Survey. It collected information from almost 28,000 educators around the state regarding the Core’s potential to impact learning as well as their thoughts about the change in general. After results were tallied, it showed that Tennessee teachers strongly stand behind the benefits of Common Core. While more guidance is necessary, the majority see it as a way to improve their quality of teaching thereby improving their students’ learning.

Privacy Issues

While the occasional bill to repeal Common Core has arisen, the Governor has been quick to swipe these aside, stating Common Core as the reason behind Tennessee’s incredible academic improvement over these last few years. However, more pertinent are the reporting requirements. With the new standards comes a new way student progress has to be measured, namely through an online database. This has raised concerns of the government using the data to compile a student database for every single student in America. US Education Secretary Arne Duncan was quick to respond this was not the government’s intention, and it is illegal to even do so. Even still, with the NSA still illegally collecting the data of America’s citizens, it’s hard to take his word at face value.

In the meantime, Tennessee is working around this matter by discussing various ways to tackle the privacy issue as best as possible. While no answers have arisen yet, the state is positive it can come up with a solution to protect its students while still taking advantage of the positive change spurred on by the new standards.

Core Future

As of now, the Core will remain in Tennessee. Even the Governor stands behind their proven effectiveness and is not aiming to strip the students of something that has been benefitting them. Opponents still rise, calling for a complete repeal in order to get the government out of their school system, but after five years of working with the program, it’s clear to the actual educators that the standards are not a federal scheme to undermine the power of the individual states. They are more challenging standards that ask the children to think for themselves and to analyze decisions to better understand how they come to specific conclusions—a talent many adults would be better off knowing how to do themselves.

Raising the Bar – Iowa Core Standards

As of July 29, 2010, Iowa became yet another adopter of Common Core. Because these standards are adopted and altered at a state level, Iowa’s take on it has officially been dubbed Iowa Core. Since then, the public school system has been working hard to overhaul its set up to meet the standards set forth by those that built the foundation of Common Core.

 

Iowa Core

It’s understood that a great school system is comprised of a clear set of standards that all students must reach. Teachers must be the means by which the students then achieve these goals. Iowa Core does just this by unifying standards across the state. It highlights exactly what students should know in science, math, English language arts and social studies. In addition. Iowa Core has introduced more modern skills into the curriculum, including technological literacy and finances. Even though this is a statewide measure, teachers at every school still create their own lesson plans based on the goals they are given.

 

Back in 2010, the Iowa Core was already in existence but had only just merged with Common Core Standards. Once this happened, they had until the 2014-2015 school year to fully implement the change. This had led to a slow but steady shift in teaching style as well as new technology. For instance, the school district in Marion fully adopted Atlas. The online program gives them the ability to track their curricula and make sure it adheres to the Iowa standards. By full implementation, students should be able to move to different schools in the state and not feel lost.

 

Control

Even with such strict standards, teachers still have free reign over how they teach each subject. So long as the standards are met, teachers are dropping the one-size-fits-all approach that Iowa core used to have. Even still, there are some voices against the practice. They see it as a nationally fueled way to white wash education across the nation. Such opponents speak out against it, believing that education belongs in the hands of the parents that make up each state, not the federal government.

No matter the side taken, it remains a fact that Iowa is reaping the benefits of its alignment. Because teachers can now teach their classes based on the needs of the students, this higher adaptability has led to increased engagement by the students. Learning in Iowa is now student-centered.

 

Iowa Core Goals

Mainly for English language arts and math, Iowa Core has added different goals to each grade level. So long as the students can perform the task accurately, they can move on successfully to the next grade.

1st Grade: Students must be able to retell stories while maintaining the main message along with the most important plot points.

2nd Grade: All addition for single digit numbers must be memorized so students can then figure out sums of 5×5 arrays.

3rd Grade: This year is all about fractions.

4th Grade: Moving back to English, students get a strong grip on the structural differences that separate prose, poems and drama.

5th Grade: After reading and studying a text, the student must come in prepared to engage in deeper discussion regarding the themes of the work.

8th Grade: This year teaches the students spatial awareness through the use of two dimensional shapes and figuring if they align when the second has been rotate or flipped in some way.

11th & 12th Grade: The final step in literary analysis, students must choose two or more themes central to a novel and track each theme’s progress over the course of the book, taking note as to how they interact with and affect the plot.

 

If done well, Iowa Core will be the means by which the state’s students keep up with the rest of the country and the rest of the world in terms of educational prowess.

Implementation of Common Core Standards in Maryland

Though officially adopted June 22, 2010 and fully implemented by the 2013-2014 school year, Maryland’s adoption of the Common Core standards has been anything by smooth. While the state has officially implemented the standards and begun testing using the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, for standardized testing, it’s been a battle every step of the way.

Prior to implementation, Maryland was continually ranked as the top school system in the country when their students were judged on readiness for college and beyond. This fact in and of itself is enough to explain why the state has been anything if not vocal against the shift. It was working great before, why rock the boat?

As standards began shifting the school system, resistance grew because the state was forcing too much change way too fast and too soon. Lawmakers, teachers and others involved in the process were extremely concerned about the amount of money being poured into the change but the lack of time needed to properly prepare. Much like the memorably bad Affordable Care Act Website launch, a majority of those in Maryland found the push to threaten an idea that is otherwise promising. Lillian Lowery, the superintendent of the Maryland school system, heard the concern and worked as hard as she could to buy the teachers more time, even pushing back the implementation of the Common Core teacher evaluations system.

Following this, in early 2014, the state used a stipulation set forth in the No Child Left Behind law to keep 25,000 students from taking their state test. Montana, Mississippi, Connecticut, Vermont and South Dakota have also followed suit. This was pursued as a means to keep students from being double tested. Maryland students could take one or the other, but not both. Some officials even tried to block the old Maryland state test altogether, stating that it no longer fit the curriculum as set forth by Common Core.

Even with that discussion going on, the state test was still administered, resulting in the lowest rates in seven years. Though headline fodder, the result is hardly surprising to many teachers and officials. It was already known the state test didn’t align with the new standards. While relatively upsetting for the state, it nonetheless indicated that standards implementation was truly starting to take hold.

The last big occurrence brought about in this small state was Lowery’s push to pass legislation that officially postponed teacher’s being judged based on PARCC test scores until the 2016-2017 school year. At that time, teacher evaluations were only partially based on test scores, leading them to be understandably worried their students needed more time to adapt before they could successfully take the test.

At the same time. Senator Rich Madaleno gave the setting of criteria for teacher evaluation directly back to the local school boards. Along with Common Core came a bill that moved to criteria as determined by the state itself. Because every school system within the state is different, it came as no surprise that educators were less than thrilled to be judged against standards that simply didn’t match the environment they were teaching in.

While Maryland is but one of many states back peddling since the first gung-ho movement for higher, nationalized standards, it is still pressing forward. Even with the ups and downs brought about by the change, no one is expecting the state to back out completely. In fact, the whole reason Lowery fought for delayed teacher evaluation was to make sure her state has the time it needs to properly switch from one style of teaching to another, an indicator in its own right that Maryland’s Common Core is here to stay.

TEKS and the Common Core Standards

The Common Core State Standards are a voluntary set of basic academic standards that outline the learning goals of students and the proficiency levels they should have attained by the end of each grade. These set of standards are designed to define the national recommendations for students kindergarten-12th grade to ensure children around the country are on the same learning level when they head to college. The Common Core consists of two portions; one for Mathematics and one for English/Language Arts. This national curriculum guideline was developed with the cooperation of the state education chiefs and governors from 48 states and there are many organizations who support the implementation of these learning standards including the Council of State School Officers, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the NEA (National Education Association) and the AFT (American Federation of Teachers). President Obama and his administration are also huge proponents of the Common Core Standards. Since the federal government doesn’t have the power to force states to adopt these standards, they have only been implemented in 43 states throughout the country, along with the District of Columbia, Guam, and a number of other U.S. islands. The handful of states who have not yet adopted the Common Core Standards include Indiana, Virginia, Nebraska, Alaska, Oklahoma and Texas. Minnesota has chosen to adopt only the ELA (Enligsh Language Arts/Literacy) portion of the standards. National academic tests such as the SAT, ACT and AP exams are now even being written to align with the recommended standards. Although Texas has not yet chosen to adopt the Common Core Standards, there are a couple of things Texans need to know regarding the suggested state standards and the education of their children.

A few years ago the Texas State Legislature actually passed a bill banning the State Board of Education from implementing the Common Core standards throughout the state. Newly elected Texas Governor Greg Abbott has been one of the many vocal critics of the standards, claiming that the TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills) is a superior system. According to state curriculum experts, the majority of the Common Core Standards actually do overlap with those of the TEKS. One of the biggest problems cited by opponents of the Common Core is one dealing the instructional materials. All schools in the state are required to cover the TEKS, but Texas officials believe that local school districts should have the freedom to design, purchase or even borrow their own additional curriculum and teaching materials. Many argue that Texas students could be left behind if the Common Core is not adopted in the state. Since most of the criticism involves instructional materials, some Texas schools have implemented the Common Core Standards in their own way while still staying in compliance with the TEKS statewide teaching standards. This has been causing a great deal of outrage among some conservative parents and Common Core opponents all over the state. On the other hand, many other residents believe that the Texas education system should adopt the standards so Texan students can be prepared to compete on a national and global level once they’re out of school.

Unifying Learning in Oregon

In the modern age of science and technology the word is progressing so fast that most of the important things are being ignored now a day. These things include our proper diet plan, our culture, civilization and much more. But the most important thing we are missing is based upon our education standards. There are a lot of points that should be included in our education standards tick list and a few of them should be corrected or removed from it. According to us the thing that should be checked on top of the list in our education system is “Common Core Standards”. But unfortunately it’s the thing that is being neglected the most. Trend is developing now a day to get your child the best education they can have and we have a lot of consideration for that. But prior to discuss these standards in any particular region like Oregon, first of its necessary to discuss or mention that what common core standards are:

The common core state standards are fundamental description of writing, reading and different skills including mathematics that focus on a children’s ability to think independently. Today’s it’s a trend to prepare students to enter a world of colleges and business that demands more than ever before. To ensure that system that every student gets the best of its education Common Core Standards are formed. There are a large number of myths that are in the air now a day. A few of them says that this step will bring all states standards down to the lowest common denominator. But all of them are generally termed as false myths because there are experts who are developing such sort of standards and are improving the education level to build different skills in growing children according to their age.

If we talk about the state of Oregon, there are different standards that have been adopted by the state and the education board of Oregon and a few of them are being developed or going to be implemented in the near future. The common core state standards for different subjects including English Language Arts, History Literature, Social Studies, Science, Mathematics and different technical subjects were adopted by the Oregon State Board of Education on October 28.2010. These standards are the foundation of K-12 Oregon Diploma. This is considered as a good degree in Oregon. So trend of common core standards is increasing and it’s said to be the future plan or the system for the children of Oregon.

The new standards call for schools to be more intellectually challenging in every grade, starting with kindergarten. But the standards have profoundly affected the professional lives of teachers and will have a big impact on Oregon students. Under the Common Core, students are asked to write more, and to articulate and defend their reasoning a lot more. They’re also expected to master skills such as multiplication, fractions and linear formulas at younger ages, use more advanced vocabulary, and read and synthesize a lot more nonfiction.

First-graders, for example, are expected to pull information from multiple written sources and write a cogent report using complete sentences and precise vocabulary. Nearly half of what students used to learn in Algebra I now is required to pass ordinary middle school math. In most districts, fully switching to Common Core is still a work in progress. But state and federal agreements mean the standards are firmly in place in Oregon. Students, teachers and schools all will be judged by their scores on Common Core-aligned tests beginning in spring 2015.

Political Analysis says that the Government wants higher and uniform education standards, Even though Oregon’s standards were low, many students weren’t reaching them. Nevertheless, Oregon was one of the first to adopt the Common Core standards, which were written by researchers and academic experts and vetted by teachers, college professors and curriculum officials. Oregon’s Board of Education approved them in fall 2010, giving districts nearly four years to complete the switch. Since the early 1990’s Oregon has been a leader in standards work. The adoption in October 2010 of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in English language arts and mathematics keeps Oregon moving education forward. As implementation of the CCSS progresses, ODE is committed to working with its partners in education to make the transition a smooth one for students and teachers.

But the question that arises here is that what would be the result of implementing such standards or what are the effects of it so far, In Oregon, the implementation process has been highly criticized by teachers, parents and state officials. Beginning in the 2014/2015 school year, all students K-12 will be evaluated by the Common Core standards and take the Smarter Balanced Assessment, although they are not formally prepared for it.

Top education officials say the expected mass failure will give students and teachers the wake-up call they need, but educators and parents are worried. The program was launched in 2009 in 48 states, two territories and D.C. to unify learning standards and better prepare students for college and careers with a focus on critical thinking and problem solving skills.

In Oregon, it will cost $13 million per year, compared to $9 million the state spent annually on previous tests. In 2014, Oregon invested $11 million in test-based teacher training. In the test, students must show how they arrive at answers to short answer, comprehension and technologically assisted questions, replacing typical multiple choice questions of historic standardized testing. Teachers said they have not had enough time or adequate resources to incorporate the new material into their curriculum.

To conclude that we can say that it’s the system that can change the vision of your young generation. But it does also have many adverse effects though. But to cut the crap out it should be said that this system is dominating the states slowly but steadily.

Reading Time and Common Core in Connecticut

When a student is reading a passage in a classroom in Connecticut, they are expected to read it for understanding. Often they will have to answer questions about the text that they read. This doesn’t just happen in Reading classes, it happens in Science, Social Studies and other subjects. Sometimes there are things imbedded in the text that the student will be questioned about. Sometimes the answers to questions can be pulled directly from the text.

Whether they can point to the text and say that’s my answer or whether they have to dig deeper and use inferencing skills (referred to by one common core commenter in the state as “thinking beyond the words on the page”); students have to aim for accuracy and select the best answer.

In Math, comprehension skills are likewise needed. For example, with the advent of common core a student may get a word problem or other math problem to solve. They may see the answer choices in the form of graphs, tables or charts; and they have to decide which one best answers or represents the answer to the particular question.

In Connecticut, common core represents deeper levels of teaching and learning. Every child that has to get to this level needs every possible tool to help them get there. This includes a teacher who teaches in such a way that a student can explain the way they are thinking. Referred to as meta-cognition, or thinking about what they are thinking about, this concept is nothing new. Since it is receiving greater emphasis with common core, students are expected to articulate what their mind frame is, and almost know their content so well as to be able to teach another student the content in question.

Another tool that proves useful, and is in fact required, is headphones. Headphones can both enable a student to block outside noises so they can hear better; they also can be used with other technology (such as a tablet), to help the student maintain more control over their learning practices. For instance, they can rewind an audio or video if they are exposed to something they don’t understand.

Speaking and listening standards have also changed with common core. A student will have to develop these important skills on a higher level. Headphones can be used to aid in this goal. A student can record themselves speaking, doing a speech, reciting a poem, reading a story, etc. From that experience they can gain skills on how to put sentences and paragraphs together, how to edit their words, choose synonyms, add analogies, include similes and metaphors and more. This tool, in other words, helps students with self-improvement.

When it comes to listening, headphones will help students to fine tune details of the human voice and use of language. No child need listen just for listening sake, it’s all about listening with a goal in mind. For example, a student may need to listen to a passage and be prepared to answer questions that are related to that passage. As with reading a passage, when they listen to one they may have to think past the words for some answers and listen for the obvious ones that don’t require that depth of skill. Some questions will be open-ended, requiring essay or other responses besides choosing from multiple answers. Essay answers require students to demonstrate deeper levels of understanding than does multiple choice.

It is suggested that some of the elements discussed in this article are all about getting students to learn how to access and share their thoughts about a subject, distinctly know how they arrived at a particular conclusion or answer, learn content deeper and incorporate it into their personal body of knowledge.

 

 

 

 

Georgia Sees Benefits from Common Core

The K-12 common core state standards for English/Language Arts and Mathematics were released in Georgia on June 2, 2010. With the hailstorm of controversy facing the new common core standards, its implementation in the classrooms was shaky at best.  Nevertheless, the adoption of the state’s common core standards sets goals for students to reach by the end of each grade level.

Common Core Standards/Curriculum

The adoption of common core standards does not replace the curriculum of Georgia schools, nor does it attempt to tell teachers how to teach. The standards do, however, let the teachers know what students have to know by the end of the school year. This gives teachers a guideline that will help them plan their instruction and lessons in such a way as to ensure that students are where they need to be at the end of the school year.

Teachers’ Benefits

If implemented correctly, the common core state standards will help teachers prepare their students for the global world they will be facing upon high school graduation. Teachers will use the same curriculum and will provide the same individualized instruction to their students, while giving them a guideline to follow throughout the year.

Compare Progress with Other States

Because 47 other states have adopted the same state core standards, this move will allow Georgia to compare the progress of its students with students from other states and countries, giving them an idea of where they stand in comparison.

Cheaper Textbooks

Since so many other states have adopted the core standards, textbook manufacturers will be able to produce one textbook for these schools, instead of having to produce a variety of different texts according to the differing standards of each state. This will cut the cost of textbooks for school districts, thus increasing the districts’ purchasing power. These changes have benefited Georgia’s schools.