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Articles: Common Core

A student from Pullman School District 267 in Washington wears electrical sensors on her head for an electroencephalogram (EEG) test that measures and records the electrical activity of her brain.

In what appears to be an average classroom, students from Pullman School District 267 in Washington wear devices that measure their pulse, eye movements and brain waves as a teacher gives a lesson. The lab monitors neurological data to study how learning takes place.

Old computers may not be trendy, but as school tech budgets shrink or stagnate, many administrators try to squeeze the most life out of their aging devices. Recycling and retrofitting, and hooking up to the cloud, allow districts to delay or even abandon established schedules for buying brand-new equipment.

36 states increased the rigor of their standards since 2013, while five made them less rigorous. (Click to enlarge)

The push to establish national academic benchmarks may have been dealt yet another blow by the Every Student Succeeds Act. Nearly two dozen states began revising the Common Core after the new law reaffirmed their authority to create their own standards.

Students can use a free Khan Academy test prep program to better prepare for the redesigned SAT.

The redesigned SAT seeks to expand opportunities for all students to go to college—but its focus on reading comprehension may make the exam more difficult for English-language learners and low-income students.

Districts nationwide have more than 10 different titles for “literacy specialist."

Districts must navigate a larger number of titles and skill sets when hiring qualified literacy specialists to implement new learning standards and to improve students’ reading and writing performance.

Traditionally, a reading specialist worked in small groups or one-on-one with struggling students.

Nearly 40 percent of respondents to a DA survey expect of opt-out movement against testing to grow in 2016.

With students in grades 3 through 11 spending more than 20 hours per school year on testing, resistance and frustration over standardized assessments and learning standards may have reached critical mass.

Robert L. Urzillo is superintendent of the Blue Mountain School District in Pennsylvania.

The reform movement has been, and perhaps always will be, on-going.

We have witnessed the enactment of No Child Left Behind, which had the admirable goal of having all children read on grade level by 2014. That was followed by Race to the Top, another program that required standardized testing.

The standards-driven push for project-based learning and collaboration may inadvertently penalize introverted students who prefer to work quietly on their own, some educators say. An estimated one-third to one-half of the U.S. population identifies as introverted.

The standards-driven push for project-based learning and collaboration may inadvertently penalize introverted students who prefer to work quietly on their own, some educators say. An estimated one-third to one-half of the U.S. population identifies as introverted.

Students taking a statistics course at Ipswich High School present on topics such as “Should the USA take on Syrian refugees?”

Statistics instruction has become integral in K12 math curricula thanks to a push from the Common Core and a national demand for students with the skills to fill data-intensive jobs.

Districts provide more courses that teach students how to analyze data and integrate statistics across subjects, says Jessica Utts, incoming president of the American Statistical Association.

he report, “Checking in: Do classroom assignments reflect today’s higher standards?” researchers analyzed assignments from 92 teachers from six urban middle schools

It’s been five years since many states adopted more rigorous college and career readiness standards, but most classroom assignments do not meet the high bar that was established, according to a September report from The Education Trust.

Education professor Cathy Vatterott says that grades have come to reflect student compliance more than student learning and engagement.

Education professor Cathy Vatterott says that grades have come to reflect student compliance more than student learning and engagement. In her new book, Rethinking Grading, she advocates for a standards-based approach that more accurately demonstrates learning through mastery.

Testing companies find themselves competing on a tougher playing field for state assessment contracts after a rocky first round of Common Core exams spurred new expectations from state and district education leaders.

In the past year, Pearson has lost testing contracts in Florida (to American Institutes for Research, or AIR), Texas (to Educational Testing Service, or ETS), Ohio (to AIR), and, most recently, New York (to Questar Assessment Inc.), according to each state’s department of education.

In 2012, nearly every state was part of either PARCC or the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. As of this July, only 28 remained.

Public outcry over new standards-aligned tests led some states to cut funding, changing the exam landscape for 2015-16.

In 2012, nearly every state was part of either PARCC or the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. As of this July, just 18 states remained in Smarter Balanced, and 10 (plus Washington, D.C.) had stuck with PARCC. Twenty-two states opted to use their own assessments.

Source:  Education Commission of the States (Click to enlarge)

The Common Core has been implemented in 43 states since 2010 (two of which are now reviewing whether to continue using it).

Many of these states have affirmed the standards but renamed them—for example, in Alabama, they are called the Alabama College and Career Ready Standards, while in Hawaii, they are the Hawaii Common Core Standards.

At the Legacy Traditional School District in Arizona, Chief Academic Officer Bill Bressler is trying to bump up the number of computers for his students to just take the tests. Above, a teacher instructs a lesson including Common Core standards.

Given the lack of concrete data, savvy administrators are analyzing their districts’ experiences with the assessments to improve the testing process and communications next year.

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