I think there’s now a one in three chance that we’ll look back in a year and say that this story was the beginning of the end of the Common Core testing consortia.
PARCC and Smarter Balanced were designed to serve as the cornerstone of the new standards: They were to ensure that the new standards were actually taught, that we collectively set the expectations bar at college- and career-readiness, that states lost the incentive to lower their cut scores, and so on.
Alabama’s decision to drop out of both consortia and choose a battery of ACT exams is enormous. This is the “Plan B” that many states—concerned about the reliability and cost of the consortia-developed tests—have been looking for. It enables a state to remain committed to tough standards and rigorous assessments without putting all of their eggs in the basket of a fragile multi-state entity.
From this point forward, more and more states may reason that ACT is likelier to have its tests ready to go come spring 2015 at a price that is certain and without all of the potential problems inherent in a multi-state procurement-practice-policy initiative.
Translation: There’s a nontrivial chance that we’re about to see an exodus from PARCC and SB. If that happens, the implications will be profound and the questions numerous.
How many and which states remain? Will the consortia be financially sustainable? Will we be able to compare state results? Do states also start to
A first look at today's most important education news:
"What’s your “Summer 2015 Plan”?," by Andy Smarick, Flypaper
"Connecting the school funding tunnels ," by Terry Ryan, Ohio Gadfly Daily
Last Friday, the Republican National Committee adopted a resolution attacking the Common Core standards as “one size fits all” and an “inappropriate overreach.” (New American)
Teacher unions across the land are aiming to organize charter schools. (Wall Street Journal)
After failing to repeal the Common Core standards last month, some Alabama lawmakers are set to give it another go. (Alabama.com Blog)
In preparation for the new Common Core–aligned tests, the New York City’s Department of Education has launched an ad campaign to warn parents that their children’s scores may be lower than usual. (Wall Street Journal)
Alabama, having opted out of the two major Common Core testing consortia, has signed on to use ACT’s new assessment system. (Curriculum Matters)
The inquiry into whether a Long Island school district’s teachers improperly coached students on standardized tests includes allegations of an altered Regents exam grade. (New York Times)
New Jersey just released new report cards for all schools in the state. The information now available, including indicators of college- and career-readiness and excellent “peer school” comparisons, is invaluable. And it is deeply discomfiting for many of the state’s complacent schools and districts.
While the reports reinforce just how tragically low-performing the state’s urban districts are, they also show that the preening of many leafy suburban communities is unwarranted. Said state commissioner Chris Cerf, this data “will make clear that there are a number of schools out there that perhaps are a little bit too satisfied with how they are doing when compared with how other schools serving similar populations are doing.”
In other words, lots of schools and districts brag about their AP and IB programs, graduation rates, and so forth. But when you look at their AP passage rates and SAT scores, you quickly see that things aren’t so rosy. Far fewer kids than thought are truly prepared for post-secondary work.
Then when you compare some of these contented schools to other schools serving student bodies with similar demographics, you see that they are actually significantly underperforming their peers.
This should serve as a wake-up call to lots of New Jersey communities. A number of states with sophisticated school-rating systems, like Florida, have been providing such warnings to middle-class and affluent areas for some time.
I’m hopeful that such efforts will force parents, teachers, administrators, and school
A first look at today's most important education news:
"Texas: Big, proud…and wimpy?," by Chester E. Finn, Jr., Education Gadfly Weekly
"A charter school leader responds to charter critic," by John Dues, Ohio Gadfly Daily
A “small but vocal” group of New York parents are planning to boycott the new Common Core–aligned tests, arguing that hours spent preparing for them could have been better spent. Administrators, while agreeing that schools haven’t had long to prepare, contend that the kids can’t wait for a better education. (Associated Press and New York Times)
Researchers caution that when closing schools, school districts must employ a comprehensive approach in order to attain the sought-after savings. (Education Week)
Curriculum Matters outlines the Obama budget’s allotments for STEM education.
A number of states are looking to drop the GED high school equivalency test, which will become more expensive next year, in favor of cheaper alternatives. (Wall Street Journal)
Kentucky and Maine may both be among the early NGSS adopters. (Curriculum Matters)
When a Missouri school trained its teachers to use firearms, most parents approved. (New York Times)
After Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto’s legislative victory over the country’s political-powerhouse teacher union, teachers are marching by the thousands.
About the Editor
Michael J. Petrilli
Executive Vice President
Mike Petrilli is one of the nation's foremost education analysts. As executive vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, he oversees the organization's research projects and publications and contributes to the Flypaper blog and weekly Education Gadfly newsletter.
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