Don’t let national ed reform push down standards in Mass.

March 18, 2010

MASSACHUSETTS JUMPED wholeheartedly into the fight to raise academic standards when other states were content to maintain a low profile and low expectations. Now, the Obama administration and the National Governors’ Association are trying to prod those other states into action by setting national standards for achievement in English and math. If the federal government starts awarding grants for adopting those standards, Massachusetts could stand to gain — but not if it is required to lower its own curriculum standards in the process.

State officials should dedicate themselves to ensuring that the still-evolving national standards are high enough to meet Massachusetts’ level. If not, the state should be prepared to go it alone. {Read more here}

State School Boards Raise Questions About Standards

By Catherine Gewertz

Las Vegas

States that adopt proposed common academic standards must use the entire document word for word, leaders of the initiative said this week.

Answering questions from state school board members at a meeting here, representatives of the two groups leading the effort to design common standards said that states may not revise them or select only portions to adopt.

“You can’t pick and choose what you want. This is not cafeteria-style standards,” said David Wakelyn, the program director of the education division of the National Governors Association’s Center for Best Practices. {Read more here}

“Adoption means adoption,” said Scott Montgomery, a deputy executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers, which is organizating the common-standards endeavor with the NGA.

Education’s ‘core’

By Boston Herald Editorial Staff | Sunday, January 31, 2010

Massachusetts Education Secretary Paul Reville and Mitchell Chester, commissioner of elementary and secondary education, on several occasions have said that participation in the 48-state “Common Core” project to develop nationwide curriculum standards would not jeopardize the high Massachusetts standards. It’s reassuring to see that they’re standing by that so far.

No one will object if Massachusetts adopts new standards as good as the ones it now has. But draft Common Core standards for English and mathematics released Jan. 13 are unacceptably inferior – not for any “dumbing down,” but because they are incoherent and unusable by real teachers. {Read more here}

The Standard-Times of New Bedford

By CHARLES CHIEPPO AND JAMIE GASS

February 20, 2010

Recent reform legislation that doubled the number of charter school seats in the neediest school districts is an important step forward for public education in Massachusetts. But the commonwealth has taken two steps backward thanks to disastrous changes to the way Massachusetts sets education policy.

Mere mention of the term “education governance” is enough to make eyelids droop. But Massachusetts has become the poster child for just how dreadful the results can be when you get governance wrong. {Read more here|

Already near the top

Lured by the promise of perhaps $250 million in additional education aid, the Legislature strived mightily this winter to pass an education reform law that expands public charter schools. But that positive step could easily be offset if state education officials don’t make it clear that Massachusetts will accept no easing of the high academic standards that have characterized this state’s public education systems since the landmark reforms of 1993.

It is important to understand that education has long been primarily a local function. Only a small percentage of any money that we send to Washington returns to the states in the form of education aid. And, long after any federal Race to the Top monies are exhausted, there will still be algebra, calculus and chemistry problems to solve, historical texts to decipher, economic principles to understand. Teachers will still be in need of professional development. Students with limited English skills will still need tutoring. In short, every educational challenge that exists today will exist a year and a decade from now, regardless of how much federal assistance comes our way. {Read more a href=”
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Kline: Voluntary Standards OK, But Federal Standards Aren’t

By Alyson Klein on February 25, 2010 10:19 AM

Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., the top Republican on the House Education and Labor Committee—one of the key lawmakers the administration is trying to court in its push to renew the Elementary and Secondary Education Act with bipartisan support—said he’s withholding judgement on the administration’s proposal to make Title I funding contingent on states adopting college- and career-ready standards.

“We’ll see what that means” once more details are worked out, Kline told reporters yesterday. “In all of these cases, where we often get into a rub, is [who is setting the standards]. If the United States Department of Education is the one setting those standards … then, clearly we have some concerns. … If we came forward with national standards, you’d have a rebellion” among House Republicans.
But Kline said he supports the notion of states voluntarily working together on more rigorous, common standards. {Read more here|

Dumbing down?

Worcester Telegram & Gazette

Article published Feb 25, 2010

A new report by the Pioneer Institute, “Why Race to the Middle?,” offers a disturbing look at the effort to establish national education standards that states will be required to adopt if they want to share in federal Race to the Top funds. The report details how a lack of public input, poor writing, misconceptions and outright errors have plagued the work of the Common Core State Standards Initiative.

The report warns that CCSSI’s college and career-readiness standards are set “far below the admission requirements of almost all state colleges and universities in this country,” and could result in states such as Massachusetts, Indiana and California, which currently are national models for excellence, lowering the bar of expectations. {Read more here}