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ESSA Essentials: Peer reviews, achievement gaps, trackers, and more

Every week in our ESSA Advance newsletter, we identify and share the most important pieces of news, analysis, and opinion about the Every Student Succeeds Act. In case you missed it – here are the top items you should know about this week: ESSA Peer Review Is Underway: Led by Bellwether and the Collaborative As…

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DeVos Explains Why Dept. of Education Has Moved on From “Common Core”

  On Monday, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos was asked by Fox News’ Bill Hemmer to clarify the Trump administration’s position on the Common Core State Standards. “There isn’t really any Common Core anymore, and each state is able to set the standards for their state,” Secretary DeVos replied. “The Every Student Succeeds Act, which is in the…

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PJNET, Common Core, and #AlternativeFacts on Twitter

When Common Core starts blowing up on Twitter, it’s usually the #PJNET bot at work. Started by a for-profit religious group in Florida, the Patriot Journalist Network (PJNET) has users sign up and give the PJNET bot access to their Twitter accounts to post tweets that look like they were manually posted by users. Users…

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Month of the Military Child: High, Consistent State Standards Make All The Difference

April marks the Month of the Military Child to raise awareness of the challenges facing military-connected children. Military children move, on average, 6-9 times during their K-12 career – to new schools, new states, and new countries. With all the change that come with moving from place to place, high, consistent state standards can make…

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Gov. Jan Brewer Discusses Month of the Military Child on Fox News

April 13, 2017 April is Month of the Military Child and a great opportunity to discuss the challenges facing students in military families as they move from state to state and school to school three times as often as their civilian peers. Yesterday Former Governor of Arizona, Jan Brewer, stopped by Fox News’ America’s Newsroom program to…

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Beyond Compliance: Independent Peer Review to Examine ESSA Plans

Last week the Collaborative for Student Success and Bellwether Education Partners announced a new effort to independently review state accountability plans. The peer review is meant to capture the strengths and weaknesses of each state’s plan, highlight promising ideas as well as policies that work towards increasing achievement and promoting equity, and provide feedback to…

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Kicking Off Month of the Military Child

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos marked the beginning of April – Month of the Military Child – by visiting a Department of Defense School at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. In her comments there, she recognized the challenges faced by military-connected students as they transition to a new school and discussed the importance of making sure…

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Secretary DeVos’ Statements on Accountability Reason for Concern

Recently, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos raised some concerns with some surprising comments about her views on annual state testing. In an interview with a Florida television station Secretary DeVos said, “Testing is an important part of the equation, but I think it’s really a matter for the states to wrestle with, to decide…

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It’s Way Past Time to Listen to Teachers

Teachers are the most important factor in educating students. But too often, teacher voices are overlooked in state- and district-level policy conversations. Fortunately for teachers, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) presents many promising opportunities.  The law mandates that stakeholders, including teachers, are meaningfully engaged as states make decisions about implementation and develop their accountability…

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Annual Assessments Are About Improving a Student’s Chance at Success

Annual assessment season is right around the corner, and with it comes the annual clamor from opt-out proponents asking others to join them in having their children not show up for the annual tests.  The same opt-out arguments are being regurgitated in New York right now: the testing culture “is punitive in nature;” assessments put…

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When It Comes to State Standards, “Going It Alone” Hasn’t Worked Well For States

  Seven years ago, most states adopted a higher, comparable baseline of education standards. For the first time, states and districts began a concerted effort to raise academic expectation to levels truly reflective of college and career readiness. In 2016, a majority of states administered high-quality assessments aligned to these higher standards for the second…

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“Overtesting” vs. Fewer, Better Assessments

Parents and community members have often raised concerns about over-testing in schools, wondering whether the amount of time spent taking exams is beneficial to students. But there are some important facts that get lost in this debate. The vast majority of tests that students take each year aren’t required by the federal government. Federal law…

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With High Standards, One Size Does Not Fit All

There is a common misconception shared among opponents that states having similarly high standards means our education system is a one-size-fits-all federal curriculum that fails to “treat children as what they are: unique individuals.” These claims are not only false, but also ignore developments by lawmakers to ensure states have full control over what schools…

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NAEP Scores vs Common Core: What You Need to Know

Critics have argued that decreases in student performance on the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) are evidence that the Common Core State Standards are having a negative impact. Unfortunately, these assertions are inaccurate – here’s why: For now it’s too soon to link 2015 NAEP scores to higher state standards. Most states are…

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Just the Facts: Dispelling Myths about High Standards and High-Quality, Aligned Assessments

From the beginning, misinformation about the high standards (including the Common Core) and high-quality, aligned assessments has been circulated by opponents on both sides of the aisle. Below we break down some of the most common myths – and provide the facts. MYTH: Common Core is a federal, national curriculum. FACT: The Common Core State…

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Opting Out Isn’t the Answer

Proponents of opting out have been loud in their objections to assessments. However, opt out efforts do more harm than good. Opt out efforts undermine the integrity and value of good exams, and do little to improve testing policy. They put students at a disadvantage – and not just children of families that opt out,…

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Common Core States Dropping Like Flies? Not So Fast.

Since adopting higher academic standards, many states have reviewed their learning goals, and made adjustments to customize them to meet their state’s individual needs. Unfortunately, this has left some confused about whether the states are sticking with Common Core or leaving it behind. The fact is, most states (45 to be exact), the District of…

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High, Consistent Academic Standards Don’t Conflict with Catholic Education

Critics have argued that Common Core State Standards are incompatible with Catholic education because of their focus on workforce preparation. “The basic goal of Common Core is not genuine education, but rather the training and production of workers for an economic machine,” the Pioneer Institute claims. “Common Core is ‘a recipe for standardized workforce preparation’ that…

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High Standards Not A Silver Bullet for the Achievement Gap

One of the strengths of the Common Core is that the standards build strong foundations of the skills students need to succeed at higher levels of learning, by beginning to hold students to higher expectations in early grades. While standards themselves aren’t a silver bullet to close gaps in achievement and opportunity, as more students…

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Replacing Classic Literature with Inappropriate Texts? Not Quite.

States across the country are adopting the Common Core framework to ensure state and local education officials have full control over the content taught in their schools. Yet, to hear some opponents tell it, the shift is removing classic literature from schools entirely and replacing it with “soft-core porn.” The American Spectator reports the “Common Core structure…

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What SB1 Means for Kentucky’s High Standards

  On March 15, 2017 Jim Cowen, Executive Director of the Collaborative for Student Success, released the following memo in response to the passage of SB1 in Kentucky. Today, Kentucky passed SB1, a bill that affirms the state’s control of its education system by enumerating educational priorities and doubling down on high academic standards. The…

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Secretary DeVos and States Move Past the Politicized Debate over Standards

On February 16, 2017, Jim Cowen, Executive Director of the Collaborative for Student Success, released the following memo in response to recent comments made by U.S. Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, on what the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) means for the Common Core State Standards: During his campaign, we heard President Trump vow to “repeal Common…

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Incoming Education Secretary: High Standards Matter

President-elect Donald Trump’s selection of Betsy DeVos to serve as Secretary of Education has ignited considerable speculation about the impact her confirmation may have on the future of high, comparable interstate education standards. Much of the uncertainty surrounding Ms. DeVos’ views has arisen because of her own seemingly conflicting statements. Almost immediately after she became…

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Scores on the Rise: Majority of States with High Standards in Place See Improvement

On October 5, 2016 Collaborative for Student Success Executive Director Jim Cowen released the following memo on the states’ recent test scores: A few weeks ago, I wrote that states with tests aligned to new, higher academic standards were beginning to report year-over-year scores. Students, parents, teachers and policymakers could now assess student progress and adjust…

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Statement from Collaborative for Student Success on Donald Trump’s Education Remarks

Collaborative for Student Success Executive Director Jim Cowen released the following statement regarding Donald Trump’s education “policy” remarks that get the facts wrong on high academic standards: “Donald Trump fundamentally misunderstands the Common Core. He apparently doesn’t know, or doesn’t care, that when he calls for equity in education, access, affordability and accountability to the…

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PDK Poll Joins the Call to Keep the Bar High

From Jim Cowen, Executive Director of the Collaborative for Student Success While Americans may disagree over the exact purpose of a strong education, they roundly agree that educators should challenge all students to develop skills necessary for success after high school, whatever path they choose. Results from Phi Delta Kappa (PDK) International’s annual public opinion…

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Education Next Poll: Strong Support for High Standards, Not Labels

On August 23, 2016, Jim Cowen, Executive Director of the Collaborative for Student Success, released the following memo on Education Next’s new poll results on high standards and assessments: Education Next’s annual public opinion survey confirms what we’ve long suspected: it’s time to stop fighting about the words “Common Core” and move forward. While the Common…

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It’s Still Early, But Test Results Appear to Show Improvements

From Jim Cowen, Executive Director of the Collaborative for Student Success Last year, most states administered assessments aligned to Common Core State Standards for the first time, establishing a new, more rigorous baseline for student achievement. As the Collaborative noted then, the milestone marked a new era in education. Finally, states began measuring students to…

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Common Core State Standards Are Still the Right Way to Prepare Students for College and Careers

On June 13, 2016, Jim Cowen, Interim Executive Director of the Collaborative for Student Success, released the following memo in response to the release of ACT’s National Curriculum Survey: Last week ACT released the results of its latest National Curriculum Survey, a periodic poll of K-12 and college educators. The report suggests big discrepancies between…

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The Fallacy of Going It Alone on Student Assessments

On June 3, 2016, Jim Cowen, Interim Executive Director of the Collaborative for Student Success, released the following memo detailing the fiscal and logistical challenges facing states that have moved away from the PARCC and Smarter Balanced assessments: Last year, for the first time, a majority of states across the country implemented meaningful tests aligned…

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