Category: Editorial Board Support

Ik1AqEj4_400x400For as long as tests have been given, students have been dreaming up ways to get out of them. But parents usually saw through excuses and prevailed to keep kids in classrooms on exam day.

Not anymore.

As another school year begins, parents in pockets across the country, from Seattle to Long Island, are protesting what they see as excessive standardized testing. They are refusing to let their children take mandated statewide tests — an action in which anger has overtaken good judgment.

Granted, the tests required by the federal No Child Left Behind law aren’t ideal. In many places, a focus on test-prep has shortchanged more effective ways of teaching. But like them or not, the tests are the most objective measures of student progress and school performance. They shouldn’t be dumped by individual parents in political protest.

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The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel editorial board released this op-ed asserting the important role higher standards have played in the downward trend in remediation rates.

By The Daily Sentinel

Colorado’s move to adopt higher educational standards back in 2009 arose from an alarming number of high school graduates forced to enroll in remedial classes in college.

In the six years since, additional reforms led to more assessments, unfunded mandates and teacher accountability standards. Predictably, a backlash followed and this spring lawmakers passed a series of compromises aimed at reducing the testing load, but keeping high standards and accountability measures in place.

Meanwhile, the push for higher standards seem to be working. On Friday, The Sentinel’s Emily Shockley reported that the number of students enrolled at Colorado Mesa University who had to take remedial courses dipped from 36.2 percent in 2012-13 to 29.6 percent in 2013-14.

That’s encouraging. Any improvement is good, but it’s also a shame that nearly three in 10 CMU students have to pay tuition for remedial courses. These classes don’t earn students credit toward a degree but are necessary to get them up to speed for classes that do count. (more…)

rulerIn 2010, a who’s who of American educators and politicians joined forces to spearhead a national initiative with wide appeal and few if any critics. It was called the Common Core.

The pols and educators agreed: Too many U.S. students breezed through weak state achievement tests (think Illinois’ defunct ISAT), only to falter against tougher national and international assessments. Many students who reached college needed intensive tutoring.

The prescription: Create “a common set of high expectations for students across the country.” State school superintendents, other education leaders and teachers nationwide would write tough national math and English standards.

For English, the Core standards suggest that students be exposed to “classic myths and stories from around the world, foundational U.S. documents, seminal works of American literature and the writings of Shakespeare.” The standards stress reading comprehension, clear writing and vocabulary growth. There is no required reading list. (more…)

By The Daily Sentinel

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The good news is that for the second year in a row District 51 third-graders beat the state average in scoring at or above grade level on 2014 Transitional Colorado Assessment Program reading tests: 72 percent to 71.5 percent.

The bad news? Both the district and the state averages are down slightly from last year. Whether they can pull those numbers up will remain something of a mystery because the TCAP is being replaced by a new assessment that won’t provide an apples-to-apples comparison, but, hopefully, better results.

Still, it’s good to know that students in our district aren’t falling behind or performing worse than the rest of the state. And the new testing, we think, warrants some optimism about the state’s gradual implementation of new academic standards. (more…)

USA Today’s editorial board released this op-ed, ‘Common Core’ demonized as Obamacore: Our view, outlining the political wrangling around high standards. 

site-masthead-logo@2xYou’d think an effort to improve school standards and promote higher expectations for students — adopted by 45 states, embraced by the business community, and endorsed by governors and education reformers from both parties — would be about as controversial as motherhood and apple pie.

Well, think again. Attacks against the “Common Core” standards, led by Tea Party activists and conservative pundits and lately joined by some teachers’ unions, have reached a crescendo of distortions that put students’ welfare at risk.

Last month, Indiana, which adopted the standards in 2010, became the first state to un-adopt them. Similar repeal moves are afoot in several other states.

It’s an instructive example of how easily constructive, thoughtful attempts to address the nation’s problems are derailed by political opportunism. (more…)

appleThe Colorado State Board of Education has joined a movement advocating the state pull out of a multi-state testing consortium called — pardon the clumsy title — the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC.

The Republican board majority believes the tests represent an intrusion of federal power and wants the state to develop its own tests, even though the PARCC tests haven’t even been given here yet.

“From my perspective, as a long time educator, when we have a federally-funded entity like PARCC, we’ve just legitimized a huge federal influence on what students are taught,” board member Debora Scheffel was quoted as saying on the website Chalkbeat Colorado. “It’s the wrong way to influence student achievement.”

If the federal government were dictating test content or underlying standards, Scheffel would be correct. But PARCC is not a federal power grab. (more…)

Jaylon Burleson, a third-grade student at Denver s Marrama Elementary School,  works on a writing exercise in this 2011 file photo.

The Common Core education standards are being criticized as too tough. An edict from above. Another way of tightening the tyrannical grip of standardized testing on education.

We hope the road ahead for the Common Core — a set of standards that the District of Columbia and 45 states, including Colorado, have agreed to adopt — gets smoother because it has a lot to offer the nation’s students.

First, let’s talk about what the Common Core is not. It is not a common curriculum or an effort to nationalize education.

It’s a way of ensuring that the nation’s school districts are aiming for the same level of proficiency on an agreed-upon menu of things that kids should know. How you get there is your choice.

We think it’s long overdue. And if it raises the bar, that’s a good thing. (more…)