National PTA President Otha Thornton discusses why his organization supports the Common Core, dispelling myths and sharing resources to help parents learn more and support successful implementation of the standards.
My Learning First Alliance (LFA) colleagues and I have been giving quite a bit of attention to the impending release of the latest results from the Organisaton for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), which tests literacy, math, and science in 15 year-olds every three years. The United States has been humbled by past results that place us somewhere past number 20 in rankings of proficiency. We’re expecting that this year’s results will not show improvement and, as national leadership groups, have been strategizing how to respond on behalf of the educators and stakeholders we represent.
I’ve been thinking lately that perhaps there are lessons to be learned from international comparisons that we’re missing. A few random thoughts follow:
- In the past we, as Americans, were quite convinced that we were superior to others around the globe. Now we know we’re not.
- Because we, as a country, have been blessed with abundant natural resources, two friendly neighboring countries, and the security of the protective boundary of two large oceans, we’ve believed that
Advocates hope that the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) Initiative will lead to deeper learning by students – that the standards will result in students learning not only academic content, but how to think critically, work collaboratively, communicate effectively and more. And they recognize that for this to happen, classroom instruction has to change.
Many assume that new assessments aligned to the Common Core will serve as a key lever in its implementation, driving changes in instructional practice. But is that a reasonable assumption? Do large-scale assessment systems influence instruction?
While common sense and popular opinion hold that yes, they do, the research base on the issue is surprisingly thin. But in summarizing the little there is, New Assessments, Better Instruction?, a RAND literature review commissioned by the Hewlett Foundation, confirms what we already knew – testing does indeed influence instructional practice, particularly when high-stakes are attached to it.
The review (which included available research on high-stakes testing and performance assessment in U.S. public education, assessment in international settings, formative assessment, military and ...
By Chrystal Jones, Senior State Advocacy Strategist, National PTA
As the largest volunteer child advocacy association in the nation, National PTA speaks with a powerful voice on behalf of every child and provides the best tools for parents and communities to help their children become successful students. National PTA volunteers have adopted several position statements and resolutions, beginning in 1981, in support of voluntary, clearer, higher academic standards for all students. You can read our position statements on our website.
The National PTA has made a tremendous impact on education reform in the early stages of adopting and implementing the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI) and is a strong partner in the CCSSI at the national level. Recent examples of the impact at the national level include:
- Inclusion in a National Governor’s Association Common Core State Standards Issue Brief. Delaware PTA and Michigan PTA were interviewed about their work to advance the Standards and were highlighted as ...
By Jim Hull, Senior Policy Analyst, National School Boards Association’s Center for Public Education (CPE)
Minority students have made significant gains over the past four decades in both math and reading, according to the 2012 long-term NAEP results. While most white students made significant gains as well, achievement gaps narrowed considerably since minority students made much larger gains than their white peers. However, large achievement gaps still remain.
9 Year Olds
- U.S. 9 year old have made significant gains.
- Since the first year of NAEP in 1971, student achievement in reading has increased significantly from 208 to 221 (13 points, or just over a year’s worth of
The Learning First Alliance has sent an open letter to education stakeholders recommending a transition period in Common Core implementation. Fifteen of our member organizations joined together to suggest that for at least one year after the original deadline, the results from assessments of the Common Core State Standards be used only to guide instruction and attention to curriculum development, technology infrastructure, professional learning and other resources needed to ensure that schools have the supports needed to help all students achieve under the Common Core.
By removing high-stakes consequences from these assessments during the transition to them, educators will have adequate time to adjust their instruction, students can focus on learning, and parents and communities can focus on supporting children.
Download the letter, or read it below.
June 6, 2013
OPEN LETTER TO EDUCATION STAKEHOLDERS:
Fifteen members of the Learning First Alliance, a partnership of national education organizations representing more than ten million parents, educators and policymakers, have agreed on the following statement:
The Learning First Alliance believes that the Common Core State Standards have the potential to transform teaching and learning and provide all children with knowledge and skills necessary for success in the global community.
To meet this potential, teachers, administrators, parents and communities are working together to align the standards with curriculum, instruction and assessment. Their work – which includes ...
By Marla Ucelli-Kashyap, Assistant to the President for Educational Issues, American Federation of Teachers (AFT)
Last month, AFT president, Randi Weingarten called for a moratorium on the stakes associated with Common Core-aligned assessments. Let me be clear, the AFT has long been a supporter of higher common standards and expectations for all students, regardless of ZIP code.
From the outset, we've maintained that the standards themselves would only be as good as the system that supports them: aligned curricula and classroom resources (including state-of-the-art online tools); meaningful, sustained professional development; time for teachers and other staff to adapt to the new standards; aligned and timely assessments that support college and career readiness and inform instruction; and participation of family and community stakeholders in the awareness-building, advocacy and support needed for the standards to truly change teaching and ...
New Accrediting Body for Educator Preparation Seeks Public Comment on Next Generation of Accreditation Standards and Evidence
Public Comment Period February 15–March 29
By James G. Cibulka, president, Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation
Education reform over the past decades has ushered in changes in standards, assessment, curriculum, and teacher evaluation. Most recently, the focus has turned to teachers and their professional preparation; research has shown that teachers are the most significant in-school influence on student achievement. While education reform is often politicized, the opposing sides share considerable common ground. In the end, those vested in the topic of education reform agree that every student deserves the best teachers and education possible.
The Council for the Accreditation of Education Preparation (CAEP)[i] takes up its responsibilities as the new national accreditor of educator preparation providers at a time of high interest in P-12 student performance and in the capabilities of the education workforce. In this context, accreditation must be a strong lever in shaping educator preparation, assuring the public of the rigor of educator preparation programs. ...
The arrival of 2013 brings us one year closer to the rollout of Common Core State Standard (CCSS) assessments, scheduled for 2014-15. As the deadline approaches, the complexities surrounding implementation of the standards and their accompanying assessments come into sharper focus. The issues listed below are hardly exhaustive, but they begin to convey the challenges of implementation facing our nation’s schools and districts. ...
The power of collaboration seems, at times, to be the best kept secret in education reform. Despite district variance, efforts to increase student achievement levels often see higher levels of success when all stakeholders work together. Studyville School District (the name has been changed to preserve anonymity) is just one such example. It is a story of collaboration and compromise in which stakeholders came together to design and implement a more effective teacher evaluation system. We live in an era where evaluation and accountability dominate the national education conversation and where student outcomes are being tied to merit pay and teacher performance. It is imperative, given the high-stakes nature of evaluation, that such systems are put in place with fidelity and the buy-in of all actors. ...
Leadership matters. Principals set the tone of a school and can inspire students and teachers alike to reach new heights. They are second only to teachers among the in-school influences on student success.
Yet we don’t hear much about how to measure a principal’s performance. And the little research that exists on principal evaluation suggests that current systems do not accurately judge performance, do not provide information that is useful for professional growth, and often aren’t even used.
The federal government has begun to take note, making changes to principal evaluations a condition of Race to the Top funds, School Improvement Grants, and waivers to some of the requirements of No Child Left Behind. Unfortunately, they are often requiring that the evaluations be based in significant part on student performance on standardized assessments. As we all know, test scores represent a very narrow definition of ...
A VISION FOR GREAT SCHOOLS
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