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EdSource Highlighting Student Success
August 22, 2014
Welcome back! I hope the summer break helped you recharge and get ready for what promises to be a momentous school year. If 2013-14 was dominated by implementation of the Local Control Funding Formula, 2014-15 may well be remembered as the year of the Common Core. Next spring students will take the full Smarter Balanced assessments for the first time. Teachers, students and parents will be immersed in Common Core thinking--and practice--alongside school and district leaders. 

For that reason, this edition of Leading Change focuses on the Common Core--and the shifting sands of public opinion on the new standards. We're seeing large-scale change taking place before our eyes. Have thoughts of your own or experiences to share? Let us know!

Best regards,

Erin Brownfield
Editor, Leading Change

In moving to the Common Core State Standards this year, California school districts had to choose between serving up high school math as one big stew or as the curricular equivalent of separate courses. That option has created strong, sometimes passionate disagreements among parents and teachers who argue that a blended or "integrated" approach offers a clearer method of instruction and those who prefer sticking with a familiar sequence of courses.  Read more.


Survey finds Common Core teacher training still in the "Needs Improvement" zone


An online survey from the Education Week Research Center finds that more teachers are being trained in Common Core practices, but they give training sessions low marks for quality, and few are being trained in using aligned assessments.  


The study, "From Adoption to Practice: Teacher Perspectives on the Common Core," is not nationally representative--it was given to registered users of edweek.org--but provides a "snapshot" of 457 teachers in states that have adopted the Common Core. Only 53% of respondents described the professional development on Common Core as of high quality. Notably, as states prepare to give Common Core based assessments this spring, the survey found that few teachers were getting training about the tests: only 23% reported that the assessments had been a topic of professional development. Far more common is training on the English/language arts standards; training on the math standards runs a distant second. 


Of particular concern is that only one-quarter or fewer said they felt prepared to teach the Common Core to students with disabilities or those still learning to speak English. The good news? Most teachers surveyed believe that the standards will have a positive effect on their teaching and on student learning. 


Maya Sugarman, KPCC
From KPCC's "Pass/Fail" blog

For teaching science, the shift toward the Common Core learning standards 
involves relying less on students' ability to memorize lessons and more on rewiring their brains to think like engineers. California has a  draft implementation planfor the new science standards. The CDE is giving the public until August 25th to give input on the plan. Read more.  

Two new national polls released this week by Gallup (for Phi Delta Kappan) and Education Next showed conflicting results regarding the level of support for the Common Core standards. The Gallup Poll showed 60 percent of respondents opposed to the Common Core, while 53 percent of respondents in the Education Next poll supported it.  The polls sent a cautionary message that poll results, as always, need to be looked at carefully.  As an NPR report  and a commentary by Paul Peterson pointed out,  the type of questions asked make makes a huge--and perhaps definitive--difference in a poll's findings.  The Education Next poll suggests that much of the opposition was driven by reactions to the label "Common Core," rather than opposition to the overall concept of common educational standards. 

In California, a June online poll by Policy Analysis for California Education found that more California voters had a negative view of Common Core than had a positive one. An earlier survey from Public Policy Institute of California indicated that a slight majority of Californians who were familiar with the standards supported them.
What is unclear in all of these public opinion polls is the extent to which the results are based on accurate--or any--knowledge about the Common Core. Just over half of respondents on the PDK/Gallup Poll for example, said that they knew little or nothing about the Common Core. One of the most eye-opening findings of the Education Next poll, however, is that support among teachers--the group that one would expect would be the most knowledgeable--has slipped dramatically over the past year. On the other hand, that conflicts with the EdWeek survey mentioned above that showed that large majorities of teachers think that the standards would have a positive impact on their teaching and student outcomes. 

Jacqueline King is 

director, higher education collaboration for the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. 


It would be easy to conclude that greater cooperation (and improved alignment) between K-12 and higher education is "mission impossible," given the differences in structure and culture between the two sectors. But I have been involved in efforts to create greater academic alignment between K-12 and higher education for almost a decade and I see more reasons for optimism than pessimism. Here's why 

Dr. Barry R. Groves is superintendent of the Mountain View Los Altos High School District. 
As a 37-year public school veteran, 22 as a superintendent in Santa Clara County, I have observed many educational reforms over the years with many changes in mathematics pedagogy. Unlike most past reform efforts, I am optimistic that this year will be different with these coherent, focused and rigorous standards and assessments. 
-originally published in the San Jose Mercury News

On Our Reading List
A Compendium of Research on the Common Core State Standards
August 7, 2014

From Center on Education Policy: Includes over 60 research studies focused on the Common Core State Standards, and encompasses research from multiple sources, such as government entities, independent organizations, and peer-reviewed publications from academic journals and other outlets. Will be updated regularly as new research is published.

Common Core Resources
The California Department of Education has just released a Common Core Toolkit with a wealth of materials prepared by the Frameworks Institute, in collaboration with numerous other organizations,
for educators and others to use to help explain the new standards to parents and the public. 

The Aspen Institute has published a printable
Common Core introduction for famiiles. Available in English and Spanish, this printable 2-page flier gives an easy-to-understand introduction to the goals of CCSS.

Tweet of the Week


Take #CommonCore polls with a grain of salt--just one word can completely swing results:
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