Posts Tagged ‘common core state standards’

On Track & Moving Forward: Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium Update

Friday, April 26th, 2013

On April 25, the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (Smarter Balanced) hosted a briefing in Washington, DC, on the progress of the 26-state consortium.

Smarter Balanced is one of the two Race to the Top-funded consortia of states working to develop K-12 assessment systems aligned to the Common Core State Standards. The assessments – in mathematics and English Language Arts/Literacy – will be administered online and will provide students with an early signal of their readiness for college-level credit-bearing courses. The Smarter Balanced assessment system will include required summative assessments, optional interim assessments to be administered locally through each school year, and a series of formative tools and processes to be used at the classroom level.  The summative assessments will utilize computer-adaptive testing with the goal of providing greater precision and efficiency in measuring students’ proficiency on the Common Core State Standards.

Joe Willhoft, Executive Director of Smarter Balanced, provided an overview of the assessment system, including an update on the pilot test occurring right now in over 5,000 schools and reaching about 1 million students. Willhoft also shared newly released cost estimates that peg the cost per student to be approximately $22.50 for just the summative assessment, which is actually less than what about two-thirds of Smarter Balanced states currently spend on assessments. He noted that about 70 percent of the cost will go towards the (human) scoring of the performance-based items included in the assessment used to measure problem solving and deeper analytical skills.

Willhoft also discussed the option states and districts will have to use paper-and-pencil tests for the first three years of administration as a strategy of easing the transition to the computer-based assessments, noting that the results from the paper test will be comparable with the online assessments.

Jacqueline King, Director of Higher Education Collaboration for Smarter Balanced, spoke on the role higher education has been playing throughout the design and development process. Specifically, she pointed to the college content-readiness policy released last month that will facilitate the use of the high school assessments by institutions of higher education. Students who score a three or above on the high school summative assessment will have a portable score that can be used by colleges and universities to exempt them from remedial education and place them into credit-bearing courses. Looking ahead, Smarter Balanced will continue to engage with higher education to build awareness and support for the assessment system.

King also mentioned that Smarter Balanced would be exploring the idea of what the assessments mean insofar as students’ academic “career readiness” in coming months.

Kate Blosveren, Associate Executive Director

By Kate Blosveren Kreamer in Public Policy
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Florida Legislature Passes Bill Introducing College-Ready and Career-Ready Tracks

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

Florida Governor Rick Scott of signed a bill this week, restructuring the state’s graduation requirements.

At the heart of the legislation is the repeal of the state’s current high school graduation requirements – adopted in 2010 to be fully implemented with the graduating class of 2016 – which required all students to complete four years of mathematics, including Algebra I, Geometry and Algebra II (in alignment with the state’s adopted Common Core State Standards) and three years of science, including Biology and Chemistry or Physics.

Under the new requirements, to impact the graduating class of 2014, students can choose a career pathway that would allow them to be waived from Algebra II, Chemistry and Physics courses, as well as the end-of-course assessments in those subjects and take more Career Technical Education (CTE) courses or other work-based learning experiences in their place. The Florida State Board of Education will determine which courses will be allowed to substitute the waived academic courses. If students take the new minimum requirements and earn one or more industry certification, they will receive a “merit” designation.

Or, students can earn “scholar” designation if they complete the current graduation requirements, with the goal of this pathway preparing students for a four-year degree.

The legislation includes a strong focus on career exploration and articulates that districts should work with local workforce boards, business and industry, and postsecondary institutions to create partnerships and career-focused courses, which would then need to be approved by the State Board of Education.

The legislation also changes Florida’s assessment requirements by making the currently high-stakes biology and geometry end-of-course assessments count as 30 percent of a student’s grade rather than a requirement for graduation. The Algebra I and English 10 exams will still be required for all students, but also count as 30 percent of the student’s final grade rather than be fully high stakes.  Finally, the bill ensures the current economics course requirement includes an emphasis on financial literacy.

The bill aims to provide students with more flexibility and better align high school with workforce demands and many of the provisions will achieve that. However, there is valid concern that the new graduation requirements will mean not all students will be expected to learn – and therefore will have access to – the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). The concern is largely around the fact that, unless the approved CTE courses, credentials and experiences are indeed rigorous both in terms of the technical expectations and academic expectations, some students will be tracked into less rigorous pathways, limiting their postsecondary and career options in the long term.

We’ll be tracking the issue and particularly the work of the State Board of Education moving forward.

Kate Blosveren, Associate Executive Director

By Kate Blosveren Kreamer in Public Policy
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New Report: Understanding the Skills in the Common Core State Standards

Friday, December 21st, 2012

The Common Core State Standards “provide a strong platform for students to apply and master the skills they need, and as students apply those skills, they have more opportunities to fully master the content within the CCSS,” according to a recent analysis of the standards by Achieve.

The CCSS covers most of the skills in greatest demands by employers, postsecondary institutions and society overall, according to Understanding the Skills in the Common Core State Standards. The report suggests that because the skills — working collectively, thinking critically, communicating effectively solving routine and nonroutine problems, and analyzing information and data – imparted by the CCSS are needed to excel in academic, technical and life settings.

However, the report also does note that “some skills — mostly technical or work-based in nature, such as career planning, ethical reasoning and conflict resolution skills — are simply outside the scope of the mathematics and ELA/literacy CCSS.”

The report identifies the level of preparation all students learning to the CCSS will acquire and offers insight into opportunities for Career Technical Education to help address career-focused skills. Learn more at

Erin Uy, Communications & Marketing Manager


By Erin in Publications, Research
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Secretary Duncan Outlines Progress Made and Goals for the Future

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

This afternoon Secretary of Education Arne Duncan spoke at the National Press Club about the state of American education. Duncan highlighted the Obama Administration’s achievements and challenges over the last four years and offered his take on the obstacles facing public schools in the years ahead.

Chief among the Department’s endeavors are raising standards, improving student performance, reducing dropout rates, and strengthening the teaching profession. But, as we in the CTE community know, education also plays an important role in strengthening the economy and closing the skills gap. Said Duncan: “With more than three million unfilled jobs in this country, [the public] understand[s] that we have a skills gap that will only be closed if America does a better job training and preparing people for work.” The public supports investing in education, but as Duncan pointed out, they worry about where the money will come from.

Duncan laid out the areas where there is still work to be done, including reforming CTE programs in high schools and community colleges, state-driven accountability, recruiting more math and science teachers, and closing the skills gap.

By Nancy in Public Policy
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PARCC College-Ready Determination Policy to include Career-Ready?

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

At a recent meeting in Alexandria, Virginia, the PARCC Assessment Consortium leaders discussed preliminary feedback received from the public comments on the draft PARCC Draft College-Ready Determination Policy and Policy-Level Performance Level Descriptors. As part of the discussion around the feedback, a question about adding career-ready to the description as a means to include the connectivity to the expectations for mathematics and English Language Arts for both college- and career- readiness was raised.

The policy determination is the initial step in the process that K-12 and postsecondary leaders in PARCC states will use to frame the performance expectations students must meet in English language arts/literacy and mathematics using a five point rating scale. The current draft under public comment review is available here. The primary objective identified within the draft policy states,

“ . . .  students who earn a College-Ready Determination and are admitted to two- or four-year institutions of higher education will be exempted from having to take and pass other placement tests designed to determine whether they are academically prepared to enter directly into entry-level, credit-bearing courses in English, mathematics, and a wide range of disciplines that require college-level reading, such as history and the social sciences.

The College-Ready Determination is not being designed to inform college admission decisions or to exempt students from having to take tests designed to place them into more advanced courses beyond entry-level courses (p. 2)”

As part of the policy development, PARCC leaders have connected with the CTE community through the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc) and the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) and others to engage in a dialogue around the issues and opportunities to include career-ready as part of the determination policy for mathematics and English language arts as well.

A webinar is being established to engage feedback and input about including a career ready level in the policy creation and assist in the public comment feedback period specifically from the CTE community.


Dean Folkers, Deputy Executive Director

By Dean in Public Policy
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Career Clustersâ„¢ Institute Recap: CTE and the Common Core State Standards Implementation

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

The National Career Clusters™ Institute is an annual summer event that offers a range of seminars and workshops highlighting model CTE programs across the country that are aligned to the National Career Clusters Framework ™. This blog series provides a recap of the broad range of information shared over the course of the event, which took place June 18 – 20 in Washington, DC.

Margaret Reed Millar of the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) described at the National Career Clusters™  Institute work taking place through the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) Initiative and the State Collaborative on Assessment and Student Standards (SCASS), and how Career Technical Education (CTE) is a part of the CCSS implementation.

Millar discussed the tendency for U.S. education to cover content that is “a mile wide and an inch deep.” The CCSS, a set of high quality academic expectations adopted by 45 states, are helping states focus on fewer concepts in greater depth to provide students with a richer, more meaningful education. Millar stressed the importance of communication between districts, teacher colleges, and business and industry to ensure that students are college and career ready upon graduating high school.

A variety of digital resources are available to support CCSS implementation including;

NASDCTEc President and State Director Dr. Patrick Ainsworth also discussed work taking place in California to incorporate CTE into CCSS implementation. Ainsworth described how CTE is a central part of education reform in California; CTE is represented on every CCSS committee, and has its own section in the state’s CCSS implementation plan.

Currently, California’s CTE standards are being aligned to the CCSS. Ainsworth described CTE standards as a tool to foster the career readiness of all students and to develop a highly skilled and educated workforce which contributes to economic prosperity. He also suggested that incorporating CTE in CCSS implementation requires an emphasis on teams and groups, and on using technology to demonstrate learning and mastery.

Kara Herbertson, Education Policy Analyst

By Kara in National Career Clusters Institute
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WEBINAR: Common Core State Standards & Career and Technical Education: Bridging the Divide between College and Career Readiness

Friday, May 25th, 2012

Join the discussion regarding a blueprint for increased engagement between state education leaders and the career and technical education (CTE) community at a webinar Tuesday, May 29, 3 p.m. ET.

A new report, Common Core State Standards & Career and Technical Education: Bridging the Divide between College and Career Readiness, was developed in partnership with the National Association of State Directors of Career and Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc) and the Association of Career and Technical Education (ACTE).

With the adoption of the Common Core State Standards by 46 states and the District of Columbia, there is a tremendous opportunity to rethink the role of literacy and mathematics not only within academic classes but also within CTE courses and pathways and encourage more collaboration and integration between educators across disciplines.

Webinar details

Join us: Tuesday, May 29, 3 p.m. ET.

Please dial: (877) 880-7678 and use conference ID # 83092176

Access the webinar slides:

By Erin in Webinars
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NASDCTEc Seeks Input on Common Standards for Career Technical Education Programs

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

The opportunity for the public to comment on the Common Career Technical Core (CCTC), a shared set of rigorous, high-quality Career Technical Education (CTE) standards developed and validated by education and industry experts begins today. The public comment period will run April 30 – May 11, 2012 and all CTE stakeholders, including educators, administrators, and industry are urged to participate in this process.

The public comment period is an opportunity for CTE stakeholders to participate in the development process of the CCTC, which is intended to help ensure all CTE students have access to high-quality, rigorous career-focused learning opportunities in every state, and every community across the nation. The CCTC will complement and support other comprehensive college and career ready standards, such as the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in English Language Arts and Mathematics. The CCTC initiative is being facilitated by the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc).

Forty-two states have declared support for the development of the CCTC. Each of the 42 states; Washington, DC and Palau nominated experts from a range of sectors — from business and industry to education — to participate in working groups charged with the development of the CCTC in the spring of 2012.

Once the public comment period ends on May 11, 2012 the state-nominated working groups will review the public feedback and incorporate changes to the draft standards.  The final standards are slated for public release at the National Career Clusters ™ Institute  on June 19, 2012. Click here and learn more about the CCTC online or visit

 Erin Uy, Communications & Marketing Manager

By Erin in Advance CTE Announcements, Common Career Technical Core
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Registration Reminder for NASDCTEc Webinar: Common Career Technical Core Initiative Airing April 27

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

Reminder! Register for an upcoming webinar on the Common Career Technical Core Initiative

When: Friday, April 27, 2012 3 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time

The National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc) is coordinating the state-led effort, which will complement and support comprehensive college and career ready standards, such as the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSI) in English Language Arts and Mathematics. The CCTC will build a common connection among states to help prepare CTE students for College and Career.

Forty-three states (including the District of Columbia and a Territory) have signed a declaration of support for the CCTC initiative, pledging their involvement in the development stage. Hear about the purpose, process, the progress to date, and information on how to get involved during the upcoming public comment period.

Presenter: Dean Folkers, Deputy Executive Director, NASDCTEc (pictured)
Register NOW

Dean also participated in a lively and engaging Education Talk Radio interview April 18 with host Larry Jacobs, discussing the Common Career Technical Core and Career Technical Education.

Ramona Schescke, Member Services Manager

By Ramona in Webinars

Forty-One States and DC Declare Support for Development of Shared Set of CTE Standards

Monday, March 26th, 2012

NASDCTEc announced today that state leaders from across the nation are uniting to spearhead an initiative to develop a Common Career Technical Core (CCTC), a set of shared state standards for Career Technical Education (CTE).

NASDCTEc  is coordinating the state-led effort, which will complement and support comprehensive college and career ready standards, such as the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSI) in English Language Arts and Mathematics. The CCTC will build a common connection among states to help prepare CTE students for high-skill, high-wage, and high-demand jobs. Forty-one states; Washington, DC and Palau have signed a declaration of support for the CCTC initiative, pledging their involvement in the development stage.

A range of stakeholders from business and industry to educators will be involved in the multi-step process to develop the CCTC. The development of the standards will be led by working groups made up of state-nominated experts from a variety of sectors. Their involvement will help ensure that the CCTC reflects the timely education and workforce needs of today’s global economy.

The working groups convened for the first time this week. Later in the spring, NASDCTEc will seek public comment on the draft standards. Final standards are scheduled for public release in June 2012, at which point states will move individually to adopt and implement the CCTC.

Erin Uy, Communications & Marketing Manager

By Erin in Advance CTE Announcements, Advance CTE State Director, News
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