Common Core Communication Network: Getting Ready for Student Testing

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How Kentucky became a rare Common Core success story

Description: The Common Core State Standards have lost support, but Kentucky shows that it can work if implemented as intended. Here are three ways Kentucky become the Common Core "poster child" and what others can learn from the state's success.

State 'Report Card' Shows Steady Improvement for JCPS

Description: Kentucky, a Common Core early-adopter, shows improvement in college and career readiness as evidenced on state tests, according to the state Department of Education.

National PTA Common Core Video Series

Description: This video series, developed through a partnership with the Hunt Institute, was designed to educate parents on the Common Core State Standards and empower them to support the transition at school and at home. The 10th video addresses test scores.

New Twist in Common Core Wars

Description: Politico outlines the latest concern for Common Core critics -- testing contracts. Several states have pulled out from using Common Core-approved tests, citing concerns over lack of options for test materials, using federal funds for state testing, and a perceived focus on testing rather than learning.

Common Questions on Common Core Part 3: How it’s working in Md., what it costs

Description: The final piece in a three-part Common Core-focused feature from focuses on how implementation is going in Maryland, and what it costs to change to this system.

PARCC: Lessons Learned

Description: Laura Slover, CEO of PARCC, Inc., wrote about how the first round of field testing went for the Common Core test provider. She outlined some of the things that they learned after this trial run and what the plan was for future field testing.

Common Questions on Common Core Part 2: New requirements and tests in Md.

Description: The second installment of a three-part Common Core explanatory series from focuses on how the Common Core affects Maryland students and schools. It also looks at the struggle to implement the changes due to limited options.

Studies Offer Insights on Implementing Common Core

Description: Ed Week has shed some light on perceptions and expectations educators have regarding the Common Core and its implementation. The studies show that it is important for leaders to consider and make use of teacher input. The article also discusses how to navigate score drops.

Understanding the Common Core Curriculum: A Guide for Parents

Description: As Common Core implementation rolls out, it is important to educate parents on the curriculum. Scholastic has developed a guide to help parents understand what the Common Core means for their children.

Field Test Communication Toolkit from Smarter Balanced

Description: Smarter Balanced developed resources to prepare for the field tests coming up in many states. The field test communications toolkit contains 15 essential resources, including sample notification letters to parents, sample materials to disperse to the media, and a sample PowerPoint presentation.

Common Core's Greatest Challenge: Testing Students' Ability to Think

Description: An educator in Kansas City, MO shares insight on the Common Core with a reporter. He says, "This is how I used to teach." The article says that the issue isn't so much the content of the Common Core, but how to successfully link that content to improving students' ability to think through testing. Students, educators, and administrators all share their thoughts and evidence that the Common Core is beneficial.

Demand for Testing Products, Services on the Rise

Description: With the Common Core education reform, schools must update their testing products and services to remain up-to-date. Learn what is happening in the world of academic testing, how to assess the quality of different test support providers, and everything else you need to know to share the best information with your stakeholders.

Common Core’s Testing Woes

A short article from the National Journal about what the Common Core was supposed to be – a positive education reform – vs. what it has become – a hotly-contested political agenda item – says that the sticking point for many Common Core critics is standardized testing.

Technology Guidelines for PARCC Assessments

Description: Find answers to the more pressing questions concerning PARCC technology requirements and guidelines. In this quick-read FAQ, find out whether tablets can be used, what operating systems are necessary, and hardware and bandwidth specifications.

Smarter Balanced Technology Readiness Calculator

Description: A helpful tool to help you plan your technology needs for Smarter Balanced tests, the Smarter Balanced Technology Readiness Calculator estimates the number of days and associated network bandwidth required to administer English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics assessments given the number of students, number of computers, and number of hours per day computers are available for testing at a specific school.

The Smarter Balanced Technology Strategy Framework and System Requirements Specifications – Executive Summary

Description: Learn what you need to know about Smarter Balanced technology requirements, including hardware and software requirements, additional requirements, and anticipated end-of-support dates so you can plan your technology budget for the future.

A Showdown on Common Core Testing

Description: An LA Times editorial describes the disagreement between the state of California and the Obama administration in regards to standardized testing during the state's transition to the Common Core curriculum standards. The contentious disagreement is not serving the best interests of the students, according to the editorial.

Poll: Majority of Teachers Support Common Core

Description: In poll from the National Education Association (NEA) and shared by US News, we have learned that although 75% of teachers support the Common Core, they are unsure that the standards will be able to be adopted exactly as planned. "Our members support the Common Core Standards because they are the right thing to do for our children," NEA President Dennis Van Roekel said in a statement. "We all need to work together – parents, education support professionals, teachers, administrators, communities and elected officials – to make sure we get this right."

Common Core Practice Tests Now Available from Smarter Balanced

Description: Smarter Balanced released online practice tests to help educators prepare their students for the changes in Common Core assessments. They will work with educators to help develop a digital library of formative assessments and professional development resources. This way, educators will be properly prepared to provide great education in accordance with the Common Core State Standards.

Common Core Implementation Video Series

Description: Videos created by the Hunt Institute and the Council of Chief State School Officers help educators, policy makers and parents understand the Common Core and how to use it most effectively. The videos are meant to be conversation starters, advisory materials in developing curriculum, engagement tools, and support-building devices to get the community behind the district.

Two New Math Programs Help Georgia Students and Teachers Meet More Rigorous Common Core State Standards

Description: The Georgia State Board of Education has reviewed and recommended two newly developed high school programs aligned to the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards (CCGPS): Carnegie Learning CCGPS Analytic Geometry and CCGPS Advanced Algebra. The courses deliver highly personalized mathematics learning for students of varying skill levels. The curricula are written specifically to meet the requirements of the CCGPS and to support mathematics instructors in the transition to the new common core standards.

Will New Common Standards Mean Less Teaching to the Test?

Description: Some standardized exams under the Common Core State Standards will continue to rely on multiple-choice questions, leading to concerns that rote memorization and "teaching to the test" will remain in classrooms. Lia Crawford, the elementary-math supervisor in a Florida district, challenged that idea during a summer training session. "If you guys continue to have your students (be) really deep thinkers and problem-solvers, the test won't be an issue," Crawford said.

AFT's Weingarten Urges Moratorium on High Stakes Linked to Common Core Tests

Description: Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, Tuesday called for a moratorium on the consequences of high-stakes testing because new standardized assessments aligned to the Common Core State Standards are unfairly being given to students before teachers have had time to properly absorb and create curriculum around the standards.

Schools need a Timeout on Standardized Tests

Description: Montgomery County Public Schools (Md.) Superintendent Joshua Starr wrote an op-ed saying that if schools are forced to continue focusing on tests, they will not be able to implement the Common Core with the attention it deserves. He thinks it has the promise to be a revolutionary, remarkable thing to improve education for American students, but not if their educators are already stretched too thin focused on too many other things. He asserts that the Common Core should be educators’ top priority.

Georgia Withdrawing from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness of College and Careers (PARCC) Consortium

Gov. Nathan Deal and Superintendent John Barge announced that Georgia will not offer a new test tied to the Common Core standards being designed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC. They cited its cost as the main reason, which could be more than the entire K-12 testing budget. Georgia will develop its own assessments, possibly in collaboration with other states.

PARCC Test Cost: Higher for Nearly Half the States

The Common Core tests by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, will cost member states $29.50 per student, more than what half the states currently pay for their tests, according to new estimates. The cost of tests by PARCC and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium are a topic of intense interest as states try to decide their testing plans for 2014-15. (Education Week, premium article access compliments of , 07/22/13)

When Bad Things Happen to Good Data

If people in your community are concerned about upcoming test scores associated with the Common Core and what they mean (or what people will decide they mean to serve their own purposes), they should read this article from Education Weekly about the tests frequently called the “Nation’s Report Card,” the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP).

Advertisements in NYC Subway Stations about Testing (English) (Spanish)

Description: New York City's education department launched an ad blitz to get the message out that students are being held to the new higher Common Core standards, the day before students start taking tougher state tests. State Education Commissioner John King Jr. said he wouldn't be surprised if the number of students deemed proficient in math or English dropped by 35 percentage points.

CCSSO Webinar: One Percent Assessment Consortia and the Common Core

Description: CCSSO hosted a webinar to provide an overview of the two 1% percent assessment consortia, Dynamic Learning Maps and the National Center and State Collaborative (NCSC) Partnership. These new alternate assessments that serve students with the most significant cognitive disabilities will be aligned to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and are expected to fit cohesively within the comprehensive assessment systems under development by the federal grant recipients: the Partnership for Assessment Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (Smarter Balanced). Both DLM and NCSC are to be ready for use by the 2014-15 school year, the same year in which the comprehensive assessment systems will be operational.

Common Core a Steep Climb

Description: One of the nation’s most prominent education publications, Education Week, created a four-part series on the Common Core. Common Core: A Steep Climb highlights Washington D.C.’s commitment to the Common Core, a veteran teacher struggling to prepare her students for the new standards, preparing for year-end tests, and finally a free Common Core chat that was hosted on June 17.

CCSSO Webinar: What Teachers Can Learn from the New PARCC and Smarter Balanced Sample Assessment Items

Description: CCSSO hosted a webinar with 2012 National Teacher of the Year Rebecca Mieliwocki on the recently released Partnership for Readiness for College and Career (PARCC) and Smarter Balanced sample assessment items in English language arts. Ms. Mieliwocki, a seventh grade English teacher, offered her reactions and guidance to fellow teachers on what the new assessment items can illustrate about the Common Core State Standards and accompanying assessments that their students will be experiencing soon. After discussing select sample assessment items from PARCC and Smarter Balanced, Ms. Mieliwocki offered suggestions for teachers - individually and in collaborative conversations with their peers - on how they can reflect on these new expectations for students and the subsequent implications for their teaching practice and for state education agency staff regarding their role in supporting educators to have these rich discussions.

IN OUR SCHOOLS: Delays Predicted in Common Core Success

Description: A Cincinnati newspaper says that although the Common Core is ultimately a good thing, it will likely take awhile for tests to reflect the improvement. Educators are concerned because so much is still unclear about the implementation of the tests, and whether the resources being created to align with the new standards will truly teach what students are meant to learn.

Common Core GPS

Description: Cobb County School District shared their microsite designed to help people navigate and understand the Common Core. There are resources for educators and parents, as well as a timeline, and more topic-specific information. Cobb County Schools describe the Common Core State Standards as a way to build upon the strength of current standards to boost the competitive advantage of American students, who for the first time will have the opportunity to meet the academic standards set by top-performing countries.

Bryant Public Schools Common Core Website

Description: Bryant Public Schools has put together a website to explain the Common Core to its constituents. The Arkansas school district has broken down information by grade level, information for parents, tools and templates, and professional development. This resource gives a full understanding of what the Common Core looks like in Arkansas, so communicators can accurately discuss it.

Example Common Core Video

Description: In Park Hill School District, district administrators shared information about the Common Core - how the school is transitioning to it, what to expect, and how it will benefit students. You can use this video as an example if your district wants to recreate it.

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