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Common Core Update

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.

Some parents argue high school final exams prepare students for college, but several universities including Harvard are phasing out such tests.

Maryland’s largest district dropped final exams for many high school students this fall, with more of the state’s schools following suit to cut back on time students spend preparing for and taking tests.

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.

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.

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.

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.

In Clear Lake Middle School, part of Clear Lake Community School District in northern Iowa, teachers have time every week to access student data and tailor instruction.

A northern Iowa principal has set aside time for teachers to dig into test data so they can adjust instruction and improve achievement on state tests.

A curriculum framework initially developed for special education students is gaining traction in general ed classrooms nationwide during Common Core implementation.

The Kansas Coaching Project studies how instructional coaches improve academic outcomes.

Districts in the midst of Common Core implementation are increasingly turning to instructional coaches to help teachers master the new skills needed.

Administrators say these coaches, whose positions were cut in many districts during the recession, are now a valuable investment for time-strapped principals working to ensure schools are transitioning smoothly to the new standards.

As debate over the Common Core continues to spread in major media outlets, local administrators must address parent and community concerns to keep the focus on student learning.

“The need for parent communication with the Common Core caught many administrators by surprise, because this idea of having standards and revising curriculum isn’t new for district administrators,” says Sandra Alberti, director of field impact at Student Achievement Partners, a nonprofit started by Common Core creators to help educators implement the standards.

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