Category Archives: SBAC Headphones

Wyoming keeps pushing for Common Core Success

Ever since the predominantly red state of Wyoming adopted the Common Core standards in June of 2012, it has actually proven to be one of the few Republican states that has found the Core to be a benefit rather than a deterrent. In fact, the state, despite its opponents, actually likes the changes these implementations have wrought over the past three years it has been put into practice.

 

Republican Concern

It really is no surprise that Republicans have shown a strong distaste for the Core. Believed to be a plan by the government to implement federal control of state-run education systems, it’s been a scary prospect for many. However, despite this criticism, the educational and political leaders of the state are doing what they can to take good criticisms and apply them to the current standards so as to make the state’s standards better, something all parents want for their children.

 

The Happy Medium

In order to calm the caustic voice, Wyoming has instigated a review of Common Core scheduled to happen once every five years (with the next slated for 2017). This guarantees that the new standards are being held accountable for doing what they promised to do – prepare children of all backgrounds for successful careers in college and beyond. In addition, the new superintendent worked pragmatically to find such a balance rather than dismissing the Core simply because of her political leanings. To further push her in this direction, it was cited that if the Core were dropped, Wyoming would have to start from scratch for educational standards, an expensive move that would be costly to taxpayers and children alike.

As far as the teachers are concerned, they almost all see the Core as a drastic improvement over previous standards. However, they are frustrated with the continual changes the state keeps applying. These educators are begging for at least three years of steady standards so that they can figure them out before being asked to alter them.

 

Future Implications

Though there are still a few years needed before the state can truly tell if the Core is leading to better grades, there has been an interesting change of thought. Up until now, the ACT has been the standardized tests students have had to take in 11th grade to determine their readiness for college. Every since Common Core came in, this has drastically shifted with teachers saying their new standards only match 70% of those required by the test itself. In fact, these last years’ scores actually fell. To the educators, it’s a clear mismatch because students are being tested with a test that in no way aligns with the current curriculum. In short, it’s unfair and forces the teachers to balance two different sets of standards. While this won’t cause the death of Common Core in Wyoming, it could very well spell the end of required ACT testing.

 

Common Core in Texas

We all know that it’s important for our children to be adequately educated so they can compete in the world job market once they’re adults. The Common Core Standards are a set of educational guidelines established by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) along with the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center). These guidelines define the specific knowledge a student needs to acquire in order to graduate or be promoted to the next grade. Although it is completely voluntary, these universal standards have already been implemented in many states to ensure that students all over the country are on the same educational track and ready for employment or college once high school graduation comes around. While a number of states have already adopted the Common Core Standards, there are indeed some states that have decided not to follow these recommended educational guidelines. Along with Nebraska, Virginia and Alaska, the state of Texas also rejected the adoption of Common Core.

 

In May of 2013 the 83rd Texas Legislature passed House Bill 462, which prohibits any public school district in the state from adopting the Common Core Standards. The vote was overwhelmingly in favor of rejecting the standards with a total of 140 voting for the bill, 2 “Nays” and 2 non-votes. The new law later went into effect on September 1, 2013 and the decision not to adopt the Common Core Standards in Texas has left many of the state’s educators, parents and politicians at odds. This may be because there are many people who seem to be misinformed about the facts.

 

Some Texas legislators have expressed that they believe the standards are intentionally set low to accommodate students nationwide, while others don’t want Texas students to get left behind. There are also teacher organizations that have united to display their dissatisfaction with the possibility of having to teach according to standards set by the federal government and not locally. Contrary to what some may believe, the Common Core Standards are not a curriculum at all and they are not overseen or governed by the federal government. The implementation of these standards is actually left up to the governors who are supposed to work together with the CCSSO and NGA to ensure every student is provided with a quality education. The Common Core Standards also do not specify what and how a teacher teaches, as they are only a set of benchmarks and educational goals a child needs to reach each year.

 

There are quite a few reasons why so many Texan leaders, such as Governor Greg Abbott, do not want to implement the Common Core Standards in school districts throughout the state. The issue is still a hot topic that has been debated by many educators, school board members, politicians and parents. If you want to learn the truth about the Common Core Standards, it’s recommended you conduct your own research. With just a quick search, you’ll realize that there is plenty of factual information available online which is based on studies and statistics.

 

Rhode Island – Small State, Big Controversy

Adopted July 1, 2010, the Rhode Island Common Core is still hanging in there amidst a torrent of opposition. Interestingly enough, it seems the smallest state in the nation is having one of the loudest battles regarding its educational future. Even so, it would seem that the noise may be just that—noise.

Quiet Until 2014

Unlike most states that began fighting their Cores in 2013, Rhode Island was a bit delayed. Arriving at the start of 2014, opponents have begun growing their voices. Including some teachers, a few parents and three communities, the group is publicly questioning if the cost of implementing the Core has been worth it. There was even a bill introduced by Republican Gregg Amore asking for a delay of a new test until 2015. As it turns out, the bill was supported.

Such malcontent stems from the main argument that the Common Core is a government plan to infiltrate and take over the entire US school system, a future that does not sit well with the states that very much enjoy their solidarity. Tacked on to this is the belief that the heavy focus on math and English is only there to undermine the values the state places on other subjects by limiting what teachers can do.

Core Debate

In truth, the Core developed out of a desire to keep up with the rest of the world in terms of educational might. Studies have shown that America is no longer the educational utopia it once was, falling behind countries like Germany and Japan. It also emerged as a potential solution to finally close the gap between the education received by low-income and that of high-income children, a move that would even the playing field come college application time.

As the cry for delay of implementation grows louder, so, too, does the questioning of who developed the Core for Rhode Island. Some college professors weren’t invited and remain unconvinced the new curriculum was fine-tuned by childhood experts. In response, now ex-Commissioner of Education Deborah Gist cited evidence of deep teacher involvement. As one of the biggest proponents of the Core, she was sure to bring in many educators from across the state to develop the standards into something that would work for the state and its children.

Tied to this is the fear that the standards will stifle teacher creativity, stealing away their freedom to teach. According to those behind it, the standards are a living document, designed to be flexible enough for each teacher to adapt it to his or her classroom.

No matter the acceptance or hatred of the Core, so far those against it are only asking for a delay, not a full blown reprieve. If educators can keep it in play for long enough to deliver proof that it works, there’s a good chance Rhode Island won’t join the number of states already pulling out.

New Jersey’s Two-Faced Core Conundrum

New Jersey was a part of the first wave of Common Core adopters, agreeing to take them on June 23, 2010 with full implementation by the 2013-14 school year. While their ambition matched that of all the other states that were promised potential access to the $4.35 billion in “Race to the Top” grants, the state’s tune has changed dramatically the closer it has gotten to election year, and the more assured Governor Chris Christie is of running for Presidency.

The Typical Evolution

New Jersey isn’t a special case by any means. It adopted the Core, probably tempted by grant money more than interest in the future of its students, then began integration over the course of the five years since. There have been proponents. There have been opponents. However, even as recent as 2004, the Board of Education remained steadfast in its support of these new standards. As it was to turn out, the start of 2015 cast the Core in a different light.

Political Bias

As of May 2015, Governor Christie no longer supports the Core, promising the state that it will completely pull out once New Jersey standards are developed by the end of the year. According to him, the Core has caused nothing but five years of turmoil that has ripped apart the community, leaving frustrated parents distanced from teachers. News sources are quick to point out that this change has only come around the same time as his grab for the Republican nomination. Even with this, that’s not all that seems a bit off.

Christie, though now a firm opponent of the Core, is only confusing the parents he decried as frustrated by sticking with the PARCC, the yearly assessment that grades students on their aptitude regarding Common Core standards. While odd, Christie did explain that the only way to not lose federal funding was to stick with PARCC. In truth, the government requires yearly statewide testing, but it certainly doesn’t have to be with a test devoted strictly to standards Christie seems determined to dismiss.

The public is very much of this same opinion. Though New Jersey’s Board of Education is rolling with the punches as best as it can, it was more than happy to call out Christie’s hypocrisy. To them, if he truly wants to purge the state of the Core, he needs to get rid of everything tied to it. They even go so far as to point to PARCC as the main problem, not the standards themselves.

An Unsure Future

The debate will no doubt continue until the coming election finishes. Until that happens, however, New Jersey will remain a hotbed of outspoken politicians calling each other out on hypocrisy and flip-flopping while the actual effect on the students and teachers will continue to go ignored just like it always has.

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.

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.

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.

 

 

 

 

Headphones for School Testing

The industry of educating our country’s youth is constantly changing in order to keep up with new inventions and the advances of modern technology. Subsequently, there’s no question that school testing is extremely different these days than it was just a few decades ago. Children now need to have skills to fit the world around them and school officials are encouraged to take this into consideration when preparing testing materials. Modern technology allows teachers and staff to implement the use of devices like computers and tablet when testing children for proficiency. Many state’s standardized tests are now even incorporating a digital section into the test to ensure each child is well prepared. For the most accurate results when it comes to these type of tests, it’s only understandable that students will require some type of headphone gear for audio portions. If you’re a school administrator looking to purchase new headphones for your school, here are a few things you should keep in mind.

Purchase the Right Type – Knowing exactly what type of headphones you need before ordering is key to supplying classrooms with the appropriate items required to assist with audio testing. Earbud style headphones are the most popular choice for adults, but aren’t always the best choice for children. These small buds usually don’t fit a child’s ears properly and can be difficult for small hands to put in and take out. Earbuds are lightweight and easily breakable, which is why most schools purchase disposable buds or opt for more durable styles that fit over the entire ear. If you will be ordering the traditional over the ear type of headphones, consider whether you will need wireless ones or the standard type with cable attachments. Computer labs will be fine housing attached headphones, while classrooms that use wireless technology like tablets and laptops might benefit more from wireless ones.

Buy in Bulk – The best way to save money on headphones for the students at your school is by purchasing in bulk. It’s recommended you know exactly how many pairs of headphones you will need to adequately supply your entire school or specific department without spending too much. You might want to coordinate with other departments or other schools in the district to consolidate your order to save more money by buying wholesale. Most retailers also offer discounts to schools and educational institutions, so be sure to ask. Also, don’t forget to keep and file the purchase records for tax purposes.

Don’t Forget Accessories – Some sets of headphones require the accompaniment of accessories, so be sure to order all that you need for your new audio devices to work accordingly. When placing your order, don’t forget items such as headphone cushions, cables, speakers and chargers. Also, keep in mind that school headphones can often times get extremely dirty after multiple uses, so it’s recommended you purchase a quality cleaner to keep in the classroom in order to wipe them down between uses.

If the audio equipment at your school need replacing, use these valuable tips to guide you through the process of purchasing the best headphones for today’s students.