Posts Tagged ‘common core state standards’

Toolkit Helps Integrate 21st Century Skills with Common Core Standards

Monday, July 18th, 2011

A toolkit was launched last week to guide state education leaders in aligning the common core standards with 21st Century Skills. The Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21), a coalition of education, non-profit and business leaders, presented the kit at their annual meeting.

Most states have chosen to adopt the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and are in the process of designing curricula. By developing frameworks that integrate core academic content with other skills needed in the workplace – namely critical thinking and problem solving, collaboration, communication, and creativity and innovation – P21 believes that states will provide a more comprehensive education that fully prepares college- and career-ready students.

Career Technical Education (CTE) programs provide an opportunity for students to attain relevant knowledge and 21st Century Skills through real-life experiences in high-demand fields.

For more information on the toolkit, click here.

Kara Herbertson, Education Policy Analyst,

By Kara in Resources
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Webinar Today: CTE and College and Career Ready Standards: Preparing Students for Further Education and Careers

Monday, May 9th, 2011

Only a few decades ago, schools and institutions generally tracked students into one of two paths: college or career. Today, the nation appears to be at a tipping point of unanimity that all students must be prepared for further education and careers. New expectations consequently require us to develop new standards that reflect our interest in preparing students in both areas.

Today, NASDCTEc is releasing an issue brief, CTE and College and Career Ready Standards: Preparing Students for Further Education and Careers, to illustrate how a state agency and an industry partner addressed integrating CTE with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

Please join us this afternoon at 3:00 pm EST for a webinar to further discuss this theme. Robin Harris and Tom Foster will describe Kansas’ descriptive analysis study to examine the common elements between the Career Clusters Essential Knowledge and Skills Statements and the CCSS. Nancy Null will talk about Cisco Networking Academy and its framework for integrating and aligning CTE-related components with the CCSS.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Kara Herbertson at

By Kara in Publications, Webinars
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Making the Case for Keeping the Federal Role in Education

Monday, April 25th, 2011

There has been much talk in recent months from freshman and Tea Party Congressmen about the role of the federal government in education, and even calls to abolish the U.S. Department of Education. In a new paper released this month by the Center on Education Policy (CEP), Get the Federal Government Out of Education? That Wasn’t the Founding Fathers’ Vision, Jack Jennings lays out several reasons why limiting the federal government’s role in education would be “a wrong-headed, simplistic move.”

First, federal involvement in education is not a new phenomenon. Laws from the 1700s granted federal lands to new states that could be used for public education. These policies existed even before Washington was elected president, and lasted 170 years until the Eisenhower Administration.

Second, it would limit the ability of states and local districts to use tax dollars to support public education. While only 8% of funding for public education comes from the federal government, the federal tax code, through a number of deductions and exclusions from federal taxation, incentivizes states and locals to use their tax dollars for public education. According to CEP, these indirect subsidies for education earned through the federal tax code were worth somewhere between $42 billion to $48 billion for all levels of education in 2009.

Third, federal student financial aid makes college more affordable, leading individuals to good jobs and a better life. Almost three-fourths of student aid comes from the federal government, and if this aid did not exist, many students would be unable to access postsecondary education and training.

Fourth, the federal government has long supported equal educational opportunities for minorities, women, individuals with disabilities, and the poor. For example, according to Jennings, the Smith-Hughes Act of 1917 was enacted for the purpose of providing “vocational” education to new immigrants and those with low levels of education.

Finally, broad education reforms at that federal level, rather than piecemeal interventions at the local level, will help to raise the United States’ academic achievement and competiveness among other countries. During the last four presidential administrations, reforms such as increased accountability and uniform standards, have gained traction at the federal and national levels.

By Nancy in Publications
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Leaders Call for Curriculum That Link Standards to Achievement

Friday, March 18th, 2011

Education, business, and policy leaders are calling for curriculum that will help teachers prepare students to meet Common Core State Standards. The “Call for Common Content” states that a core curriculum should build a bridge from standards to achievement.

“To be clear, by ‘curriculum’ we mean a coherent, sequential set of guidelines in the core academic disciplines, specifying the content knowledge and skills that all students are expected to learn, over time, in a thoughtful progression across the grades. We do not mean performance standards, textbook offerings, daily lesson plans, or rigid pedagogical prescriptions.”

Indeed, the progression of the Common Core movement will certainly inform the CTE community as it moves toward its revalidation of the Career Clusters Knowledge and Skills Statements. The development of high-standard and consistent CTE programs are a top priority for CTE leaders, who must also balance common goals with the importance of state flexibility.

The Albert Shanker Institute is spearheading the Call for Common Content, which organizations and individuals may add their name online.

By Erin in Career Clusters®, News
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States Progressing with College- and Career-Ready Agenda, Survey Finds

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

Each year Achieve, Inc. reports on the progress of all 50 states and the District of Columbia in implementing college- and career-ready policies. Closing the Expectations Gap, 2011, the sixth annual report in this series, found that states are increasingly aligning the expectations for high school graduates with the demands of college and the workplace, but there is more work to be done. Mike Cohen, Achieve’s president said in statement, “While support for the college- and career-ready agenda is widespread, state progress adopting the policies of this agenda has remained mixed.”

This year’s report found the following:

You can find state by state results here.

By Nancy in Public Policy
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State of the Union Focuses on Education, CTE Student Sits with First Lady

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

In his second State of the Union Address, President Barack Obama set a broad agenda for improving the economy and maintaining the United States’ status as a global super power. Calling this our “Sputnik moment,” the President urged Congress, private businesses and the American people to work together to out-innovate, out-educate and out-build the rest of the world.

Recognizing that the world has changed and that a high degree is no longer sufficient to earn a family sustaining wage, Obama focused on the ways that education can help turn around the economy. First, he cautioned against “pour[ing] money into a system that’s not working” and highlighted the ways that his Race to the Top grants have reformed education through the adoption of new standards. He also stated that Race to the Top should be the foundation for the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind this year. Among the other education priorities that he addressed were: raising the status of the teaching profession, increasing the number of STEM teachers, making postsecondary more accessible and affordable, and training individuals for new careers and new jobs.

He also stressed the importance of community colleges in meeting the demands of out fast-changing economy and singled out Kathy Proctor, a student at Forsyth Tech in North Carolina who is earning her degree in biotechnology at the age of 55 because the furniture factories in her town have disappeared.

However, despite the President’s call for greater investment in things like innovation, education and infrastructure, last night he proposed a five-year freeze on non-defense discretionary spending beginning this year. This comes after House Republicans have pledged to return appropriations levels to FY08 or FY06 levels. So while we don’t know what spending levels will look like after the CR expires in March, it seems certain that there not be any funding increases this year.

On a brighter note, Brandon Ford, a junior at the Academy of Automotive and Mechanical Engineering at West Philadelphia High School was invited to be a guest in First Lady Michelle Obama’s box last night. Brandon was recognized for his participation in the Progressive Automotive X PRIZE competition, in which teams from across the globe compete to create production-ready, highly fuel efficient vehicles. Brandon and his team went up against corporations, universities and other well-funded organizations from around the world, advancing all the way to the elimination round.  Congratulations, Brandon!

By Nancy in News, Public Policy
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ACT, Inc. Finds That Most Students Today Would Not Meet Common Standards

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

With 44 states having signed on to adopt the Common Core State Standards, a new report from ACT, Inc. finds that most students today would not be able to meet the standards. A First Look at the Common Core and College and Career Readiness reports that “only one third to one-half of the 11th-grade students are reaching a college and career readiness level of achievement.” The findings of the report are meant to serve as a baseline of students’ current college and career readiness.

Regarding English Language Arts, only 31 percent of students are able to understand complex texts at the level required by the common standards for college and career readiness. To remedy this, ACT recommends that states should ensure that students are reading progressively more complex texts as they advance through the grades. Because only 35 percent of students are able to use language skillfully and to use a rich vocabulary, the report suggests that states should ensure that students gain sufficient understanding of how language varies by context; how to use language effectively for different audiences, purposes, and tasks; and how to gain and use a vocabulary adequate for college and careers. The report also found that students struggle with reading and understanding texts in content areas such as science, history and technical subjects. As a result, states must ensure that teachers in these subject areas use their unique content knowledge to foster students’ ability to read, write, and communicate in the various disciplines.

In Mathematics, a mere 34 percent of students were able to master the foundational number and quantity concepts that will be required in the common standards. ACT proposes that in the early grades, students would benefit from problem solving in novel contexts and hands-on experiences, while in middle and high school, teachers should help students to see connections between Number & Quantity and other Common Core mathematics conceptual categories, particularly Algebra.

By Nancy in Public Policy
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Race to the Top Assessment Winners Announced

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

Today, the Department of Education announced more than $330 million in Race to the Top assessment grant awards to the consortia of states that submitted applications. The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) will receive $170 million and the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) will receive $160 million. The goal of these two consortia is to develop a “new generation” of math and English language arts assessments for third grade through high school that will be aligned to the Common Core State Standards. The assessments will be put into place by the 2014-2015 school year.

PARCC is a coalition of 26 states and will test students’ ability to read complex text, complete research projects, excel at classroom speaking and listening assignments, and work with digital media. The consortia will replace the single year-end high stakes test with a series of assessments given throughout the year. PARCC’s application stated that its assessment system “will provide the tools needed to identify whether students—from grade 3 through high school—are on a trajectory for postsecondary success and, critically, where gaps may exist and how they can be remediated well before students enter college or the workforce.”

SBAC is comprised of 31 states that will test students using computer adaptive technology that will ask students tailored questions based on their previous answers. The consortia will still use a single test at the end of the year for accountability purposes, but will create a series of interim tests throughout the year to let students, parents, and teachers know whether students are on track. You can see which states are included in both of the consortia here.

In a speech this morning at Achieve, Inc. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said that states in both consortia have agreed to set the same achievement levels or cut‐scores on their  assessments and that the Department will ask them to collaborate to make sure student test results are comparable across participating states. Duncan also laid out how these assessments differ from existing state tests, including the use of smart technology, immediate feedback, accommodations, and the use of formative assessments that document student growth. Finally he said that “for the first time, the new assessments will better measure the higher‐order thinking skills so vital to success in the global economy of the 21st century and the future of American prosperity. To be on track today for college and careers, students need to show that they can analyze and solve complex problems, communicate clearly, synthesize information, apply knowledge, and generalize learning to other settings.”

As you may be aware, there was a third group of states, the State Consortium on Board Examination Systems, that applied for $30 million in funding under the competition to support assessments at the high school level. However, this group did not win an award.

By Nancy in News, Public Policy
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Ten Race to the Top Winners Announced

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

Today Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced the round two winners of the $3.4 billion in Race to the Top grants.  These winners are:

  1. Florida
  2. Georgia
  3. Hawaii
  4. Massachusetts
  5. Maryland
  6. New York
  7. North Carolina
  8. Ohio
  9. Rhode Island
  10. Washington, D.C.

The 10 winning States have adopted rigorous common, college- and career-ready standards in reading and math, created pipelines and incentives to put the most effective teachers in high-need schools, and have alternative pathways to teacher and principal certification.

There was no immediate word on how much money each winner will receive, but awards will be based on States’ student population. In the first round of grants, Delaware was awarded $100 million and Tennessee received $500 million. In a statement, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said that this round of finalists was very competitive and that the Department hopes to have a round three of grants, using $1.35 billion requested in the President’s FY11 budget.

By Nancy in News, Public Policy
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Fordham Institute Rates Common Core Against State Standards

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

In their latest assessment of state English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics standards, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute compares states’ standards not just to each other, but to the Common Core State Standards developed by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers.  Fordham graded each state and the Common Core standards on an “A” through “F” scale, giving the Common Core math standards a grade of A-minus and the Common Core ELA standards a B-plus.

Among the other findings in The State of State Standards – and the Common Core – in 2010 report:

To date, 36 states and the District of Columbia have adopted the Common Core State Standards. One of the factors that these states and those that have not adopted thus far must take into account is the comparison of their state standards with the Common Core. What Fordham’s analysis shows is that for many states that choose to adopt the Common Core Standards, the bar will be raised for student achievement.

By Nancy in Public Policy
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