Can special education students keep up with the Common Core? #stopcommoncore #ccss

The Hechinger Report -


“I have a surprise for you on my phone,” said Nicole Papa, before starting an audio recording of “Smart-Speak,” a nonfiction article about bullying and peer pressure. Pencils in hand, the third- and fourth-grade students followed along with the recorded voice.

“Now, let’s read it again, just a little bit closer, and think about the main idea, or gist, of each section,” said Papa, reading the first section aloud.  “What’s it mostly about?”

After soliciting a range of responses, Papa wrote in blue marker on a whiteboard: “You should speak up and tell your friend, ‘I don’t want to do your homework anymore.’”

The seven students in Papa’s classroom at East Moriches Elementary School, located in a middle-class Long Island community about 70 miles east of New York City, have all been classified as needing special education services because of diagnoses ranging from autism spectrum disorders to learning disabilities to mood disorders.

Papa’s lesson is contained within the first part of the EngageNY English language arts curriculum for New York State fourth graders. Paid for and developed by the New York State Education Department, EngageNY is a set of curriculum materials aligned to the new Common Core State Standards, which aim to prepare students for college and careers by deepening critical thinking and enhancing problem-solving skills. School districts are not required to adopt EngageNY, but are encouraged to adapt the materials and use them as a guide. Though the curriculum is scripted, each district follows it to greater and lesser degrees, with some following it line by line and others using it as a general template that guides instruction.

“We’re overhauling the plane in mid-air. My son doesn’t fit into this one-size-fits-all model, so what are we going to do with him?” Mary Herrle, mother of two children with disabilities.

East Moriches follows a very scripted approach to EngageNY and that’s why Papa, an educator with more than 20 years of experience, was initially resistant to the Common Core. She worried that her students, whose reading is two to three levels below others their age, would be unable to handle the increased rigor along with a scripted approach to teaching and learning.

In fact, she has already had to go off script. Since the suggested passage was several years above their reading level—and her students were unable to read it independently while also making sense of it—Papa asked one of her colleagues to record an audio version of the text.

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Ohio bill would scrap Common Core model #stopcommoncore #ccss

The Blade -

COLUMBUS — A pair of Republican lawmakers on Monday introduced a bill to repeal Common Core education standards that critics argue usurp local control of schools and place too much emphasis on standardized testing.

“The full House, the caucus, has never really had a chance to talk about this,” said Rep. Matt Huffman (R., Lima), the No. 2 leader of the House.

“I think if we have 15 to 20 hours of testimony, members of our caucus will be better educated, and we can be clear … that leadership of the House supports the repeal of these Common Core standards with a substitution of high standards and getting the federal government out of the business of education in Ohio,” he said.

The standards are a national effort to put states on the same page when it comes to what students should know at specific grade levels. They initially enjoyed bipartisan support in Ohio but have become an election-year hot potato for conservative Republicans.
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Why It’s Harder Than Ever To Teach In Public Schools

Top Masters in Education -

Teachers are overworked, underpaid, and under-appreciated. They’re also on the front lines for many public problems. Needless to say, they’re important. So what are the contributing factors to the massive problems teachers face, and their increasingly rough work conditions? The last 12 years have been one of the greatest upheavals in modern American education, and greatly contribute to how hard the job of a teacher is today. Let’s look at some of the biggest trends affecting teachers at work.

The Race to the Top

From the Department of Defense, to manufacturing giants, to Silicon Valley, everyone’s bemoaning the fact that American students are falling behind the students of other nations. Decreasing international rankings, changing skills needed for the workplace, and a shortage of technically skilled workers are all pressing issues for education, and sweeping legislation has tried to remedy the situation. In 2002 the “No Child Left Behind” act was signed into law, pushing for the impossible goals of 100% math and reading proficiency in America’s classrooms. A secondary goal of having 100% highly qualified teachers by 2006 is somewhat more achievable, but coupled with later legislation and increased reliance on high stakes testing, has made the jobs of teachers more stressful than ever. Several states have opted out of “No Child Left Behind.” But when the even more sweeping Common Core Curriculum was passed in 2010, the race was back on, with many academic standards raised by nearly a grade level.

Pressure on teachers can come in a variety of guises. Having to manage more stressed students is one of them. While students–panic stricken enough to garner media attention–are still having trouble adjusting to some pretty insane standards, being an educator has gotten harder as well.

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Edwardsville IL Dist. 7 looks to exceed Common Core expectations

The Edwardsville Intellegencer -

While Common Core State Standards (CCSS), known as the New Illinois Learning Standards, continues to be a hot topic of discussion here locally, across the state and nationally, Edwardsville District 7 Superintendent Ed Hightower recently sent a letter to District 7 parents  explaining the district’s approach to developing curriculum and that while it will align to state standards, it will not be limited by state standards.

CCSS is a set of academic standards in mathematics and English language arts/literacy developed in 2009 at the prompting of state school chiefs and governors that comprise the CCSSO and the NGA (National Governor’s Association) Center.  The standards are learning goals that outline what a student should know and be able to do at the end of each grade. The standards were created to ensure that all students graduate from high school with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in college, career, and life, regardless of where they live.

Forty-three states, including Illinois, the District of Columbia, four territories and the Department of Defense Education Activity, voluntarily adopted and are moving forward with the Common Core, but at least five states have not adopted the standards.  This topic continues to be a political hotbed which has also raised parent concern here locally as well.

Edwardsville District 7 Superintendent said that in recent months they had received many questions about the new  CCSS.

“There has been ongoing concern that these standards will increase state and federal control of local schools,” Hightower noted.  “State and national standards continue to be fluid without a clear path to solidarity.  For example, in 1998, Illinois adopted new standards and again in 2010. We will likely see major changes with Common Core in the next two to three years.”

While District 7 will continue to comply with state law, “it will not react to educational fads,” Hightower said.  “Instead, the district will continue to focus on the instructional practices and content that yield positive results for our students.”

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Moms winning the Common Core war #stopcommoncore #ccss

Politico -

The millions have proved no match for the moms.

Supporters of the Common Core academic standards have spent big this past year to persuade wavering state legislators to stick with the new guidelines for math and language arts instruction. Given the firestorm of opposition that took them by surprise, they consider it a victory that just five states, so far, have taken steps to back out.

But in a series of strategy sessions in recent months, top promoters of the standards have concluded they’re losing the broader public debate — and need to devise better PR.

Consider: Conservative commentators Glenn Beck and Michelle Malkin held a crackling town hall meeting last week describing the Common Core as a threat to local control of education. The two-hour event was simulcast in 700 movie theaters nationwide and will be rebroadcast Tuesday night in more than 500.

About 10,000 aspiring activists have since downloaded Beck’s “action plan” for defeating the standards. Beck’s slogan, “We will not conform,” is still echoing on Twitter. FreedomWorks, the tea party group that co-sponsored the event, is planning Skype chats to hash out tactics with local activists inspired by the evening.

The response from Common Core backers?

A pair of sedate videos featuring three former Republican governors — one of whom has been out of office for 11 years — sitting in front of a gray backdrop, eyes fixed on a point slightly off camera as they cycled through familiar talking points. And a news release offering quotes from standards supporters, including a fifth-grade teacher in rural Colorado and a Pentecostal preacher from Virginia.

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Jindal: Common Core …the debate continues: Why I fight for local control of education #stopcommoncore

Shreveport Times -

by Governor Bobby Jindal,

People often ask, what do I think is the most important issue facing Louisiana? Or, if I could accomplish just one thing as Governor what would it be? These are tough questions. We have taken on a lot of big challenges the past six years, and passed a number of major reforms. I am proud to say that Louisiana today has more people working, higher incomes, and more people living here than ever before.

But, there is one issue we have tackled that stands out to me above all others — education reform — specifically, our efforts to put a great teacher in every classroom and to fight for equal opportunity in education for Louisiana children. We have made great strides on this front, but there is still much room for improvement. Our kids only grow up once, and we only have one shot at providing a child with access to a great teacher and a quality education.

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Common Core testing group won’t let some states go #stopcommoncore

Heartland Institute -

WASHINGTON, D.C. –It’s been almost a year since Indiana and Pennsylvania officially withdrew from national Common Core tests, but testing organization still lists the two states as members on its Web site.

“They’ve been inactive for quite some time,” said David Connerty-Martin, spokesman for federally funded Common Core testing group Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), of Indiana and Pennsylvania.

Connerty-Martin didn’t explain why the two states are still listed, promising more information before hanging up the phone, then not returning repeated inquiries. The most recent departure from the consortium was Tennessee, which left last month and was subsequently taken off PARCC’s public list of member states. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) has also issued letters withdrawing his state from PARCC, but the state superintendent and board of education are attempting to block his withdrawal.

PARCC and the other national Common Core testing group, known as Smarter Balanced, received a total of $330 million in federal funds to create national tests that measure Common Core’s K-12 curriculum requirements for English and math. In 2009, PARCC had 26 state members and Smarter Balanced had 31. Twelve states belonged to both. Now, PARCC has 11 state members plus DC, if one doesn’t count Indiana, Pennsylvania, and Louisiana. Smarter Balanced has 21 state members.

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