Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Common Core

AFT President Calls For Common Core Testing Delay.

The New York Times (5/1, Hernández, Subscription Publication) reports that American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten called Tuesday for districts to postpone Common Core-based testing, saying that "teachers needed at least a year to master a new curriculum and review test materials before schools should be held accountable for results." The Times notes that Weingarten was speaking before the Association of Better New York, and quotes her saying, "Is this about deep learning or desperate cramming? The only way this will succeed is if teachers have input and ownership." The piece notes, however, that such education reform advocates as StudentsFirstNY acting Executive Director Glen Weiner called Weingarten's suggestion "a stalling tactic intended to derail efforts to use student test scores in rating teachers."
The AP (5/1, Matthews) reports that Weingarten "called for a moratorium on penalties associated with" Common Core-aligned tests, and quotes her saying, "The fact that the changes are being made nationwide without anything close to adequate preparation is a failure of leadership, a sign of a broken accountability system and, worse, and an abdication of our responsibility to kids, particularly poor kids." The AP notes that Weingarten's comments, made in Manhattan, come amid controversy surrounding the new tests in New York State. Weingarten "said she supports the Common Core
standards," but "urged New York not to evaluate teachers or students based on this year's tests."
Valerie Strauss writes at the Washington Post (5/1, Strauss) "Answer Sheet" blog that Weingarten "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." Weingarten, Strauss writes, said that though most members of the AFT "support the Common Core," most also "believe that implementation has been rushed."
Catherine Gewertz writes at the Education Week (5/1, Gewertz) "Curriculum Matters" blog that Weingarten, in "what's being billed as a major speech," said that "it's unfair to judge students, teachers, and schools on test scores that reflect material that hasn't been adequately taught yet." This piece notes that the speech "was triggered by recent opposition in New York state to this year's tests." The New York Daily News (5/1, Lestch, Chapman) also covers this story.
Van Roekel Echoes Calls For Moratorium.The Huffington Post (4/30, Resmovits) reports that National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel "came out in favor of a two-year moratorium on adverse consequences for schools and teachers that have been proposed in connection with the Common Core State Standards," quoting him saying, "If I had a magic wand, I would make a moratorium for two years. It's a steep learning curve - the more you take off the onus of the measures, the better off you are. Seventy percent of teachers aren't covered by this and yet they'll be impacted right away ... We've got to have some temporary flexibility so that we can get this right." This piece also describes Weingarten's speech, adding that the "NEA has been preparing its own plan...that emphasizes the importance of Common Core implementation while expressing disdain for multiple choice tests." The Post quotes Van Roekel saying, "Randi's exactly right."
Conservatives, Unions Join In Push Against Common Core.The Wall Street Journal (5/1, Banchero, Subscription Publication) reports that there is a growing call for Common Core implementation to be slowed or stopped, pointing out the "unlikely" agreement of conservatives and union leaders. The article characterizes Weingarten as a "staunch" supporter, and paints her opposition as a serious "blow."
More Common Core Critics Emerging.The Cincinnati Enquirer (4/29, Amos) reports on the growing opposition to the Common Core Standards, noting that "opponents are hosting public forums, organizing phone trees and emailing elected officials." The article describes some of the successes that such opposition is creating, noting that meanwhile, Education Secretary Arne Duncan "asked US Chamber of Commerce members to speak up for the Common Core," even as other supporters are stressing that the standards were created by a bipartisan group of governors.
Vanden Heuvel Opposes New York's Standardized Tests.Katrina Vanden Heuvel argues in her Washington Post (5/1, Heuvel) column that New York's standardized tests are "designed to fail." Many people nationwide say that the tests "are increasing stress, narrowing curriculum" and even "leading to the kind of cheating" such as that which was revealed in the Atlanta public schools. Drawing a comparison, Vanden Heuvel calls on leaders "to invest" in "teachers teaching and students learning" as opposed to standardized tests. She argues that by implementing the Common Core-based tests so soon, "the school accountability movement has put the cart before the horse."

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