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9 Components of a Strong State ESSA Plan

Across the country, states are working on their plans for how they’re going to improve education and set up accountability systems before they submit the plans in September. Earlier this year, 17 states submitted their plans to the U.S. Dept of Education, while the remaining 34 will submit plans in September. So what makes for…

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Check State Plans: What People Are Saying

Last week, we launched the Check State Plans project to showcase the results of an independent peer review of 17 state ESSA plans. In partnership with Bellwether Education Partners, more than 30 education experts from across the country came together to identify best practices and areas of improvement in the state plans, which have already…

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The BEST ESSA State Plan Ideas are Now Available: Put Them to Use

On June 27, 2017 Jim Cowen, Executive Director of the Collaborative for Student Success, released the following memo on the release of a peer review of 17 states’ ESSA plans.  Today is a big day. About ten weeks ago, we announced a partnership with Bellwether Education Partners to conduct an independent peer review of the state…

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Heritage Foundation Report Misses the Mark

A recent report by the Heritage Foundation documents the difficulty military parents have in obtaining a quality education for their children as they move from base to base during the course of a military career. Citing a study and survey sponsored by the Collaborative for Student Success as part of their rationale, the Heritage authors…

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ESSA Essentials: School report cards, career readiness, and updates from Hawaii and Kentucky

Here are the top ESSA-related stories you should know about from this past week: 1. Learning Heroes to unveil most effective ways to unveil model school report card. Learning Heroes will host a research webinar on effective ways to “communicate school performance and accountability information to parents and guardians in a manner that is accessible…

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ESSA Essentials: Fine Tuning Those “Fifth indicators,” Congressman Bobby Scott, and More Plans…

Before you head out for the long weekend and “unofficially” start your summer, be sure to check out some of the top ESSA stories from this past week: 1. NASBE weighs in on some of the most popular “fifth indicators” seen in state ESSA plans, while Ed Trust raises the caution flag on how states…

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4 Annual Assessments Facts You Need To Know

On May 22, 2017 Jim Cowen, Executive Director of the Collaborative for Student Success, released the following memo on annual assessments. Every spring, students in grades 3-8 take a statewide annual assessment—and then they take one more sometime during their high school years. When aligned to a state’s high academic standards, these tests are one of…

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ESSA Essentials: Plans, plans and more plans

Here are the top ESSA-related stories you should know about from this past week: 1. “North Dakota officials are bracing for a fight with the federal Education Department” Education Week reports this week that, “North Dakota officials are bracing for a fight with the federal Education Department,” when it comes to their ESSA plan. Some…

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A Military Spouse You Need to Know

Today is Military Spouse Appreciation Day which feels like the perfect opportunity to tell you about a very special person to me: Christi Ham. Married to Retired Army General Carter Ham, Christi spent nearly four decades of her life as a military spouse, traveling from state to state, and from country to country. As she…

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ESSA Essentials: ESSA co-author talks about importance of local control, two states submit plans

In case you’re not already signed up for our ESSA Advance newsletter (sign up here!), here are the top ESSA stories you should know about from this past week: 1. Former Rep. Kline discusses ESSA and local control while Former Gov. Jack Markell sees opportunity for assessment audits. Former Congressman and chair of the House Education Committee,…

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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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The BEST ESSA State Plan Ideas are Now Available: Put Them to Use

On June 27, 2017 Jim Cowen, Executive Director of the Collaborative for Student Success, released the following memo on the release of a peer review of 17 states’ ESSA plans.  Today is a big day. About ten weeks ago, we announced a partnership with Bellwether Education Partners to conduct an independent peer review of the state…

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Heritage Foundation Report Misses the Mark

A recent report by the Heritage Foundation documents the difficulty military parents have in obtaining a quality education for their children as they move from base to base during the course of a military career. Citing a study and survey sponsored by the Collaborative for Student Success as part of their rationale, the Heritage authors…

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4 Annual Assessments Facts You Need To Know

On May 22, 2017 Jim Cowen, Executive Director of the Collaborative for Student Success, released the following memo on annual assessments. Every spring, students in grades 3-8 take a statewide annual assessment—and then they take one more sometime during their high school years. When aligned to a state’s high academic standards, these tests are one of…

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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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