Education Week - March 12, 2014 - (Page 1)

EDUCATIONWEEK VOL. 33, NO. 24 * MARCH 12, 2014 AMERICAN EDUCATION'S NEWSPAPER OF RECORD * © 2014 Editorial Projects in Education * $4 Plans Offer Strong Echoes of Common Core By Caralee J. Adams The plans unveiled last week by the College Board for a redesigned College Board President David Coleman, in announcing planned changes to the SAT last week in Austin, Texas, said the redesigned college-entrance exam "will be more focused and clear, useful and open than ever before." SAT include substantive shifts aimed at making the exam more "focused" and "useful," including an emphasis on having students justify their answers with textual evidence, shunning "obscure" SAT words, making the essay optional, and covering fewer math topics but in greater depth. The redesign also offers strong echoes of the Common Core State Standards, which board President David Coleman helped write. In a March 5 announcement in Austin, Texas, Mr. Coleman said the new exam, scheduled to debut in the spring of 2016, will better reflect what students do in rigorous high school courses and what they need to master in preparation for college and a career. "Admissions officers and counselors find the data from admissions exams useful, but are concerned that these exams have become disconnected from the work of high school and surrounded by costly test preparation," he said. "We've been listening to students and their families for whom these tests are often mysterious and foster unproductive anxiety." The announcement by the College Board, which develops and administers the SAT, comes two years after the college-entrance exam's reach was first eclipsed by that of the rival ACT. For the class of 2013, 1.8 million students took the ACT, compared with 1.7 million taking the SAT. Reaction to the planned changes was mixed, but Christina L. Theokas, PAGE 14> BREAKING NEWS DAILY SAT Makeover Aims To Reflect Classroom THE INNOVATION GAMBLE A city district rests its hopes on a tech-themed approach Second of three parts Making New Models Work Is Instructional Challenge By Benjamin Herold Philadelphia Another first-period engineering class has just been derailed by a series of small frustrations: Students strolling in late. Questions met with blank stares. Smartphones used for text messages instead of research. Karthik Subburam, a five-year veteran in his first year teaching in the "inquiry-driven, project-based, technology-infused" style of Philadelphia's nationally acclaimed Science Leadership Academy, runs his fingers through his hair. "Sometimes, it's like pulling teeth," he says. Six months into the school year, a controversial gamble by Philadelphia Superintendent William R. Hite to expand innovative school models has yielded progress. Science Leadership Academy has established a second PAGE 16> Testing Skeptics' Advice: Just Say 'No' By Karla Scoon Reid Riding what they see as a wave of anti-testing sentiment among parents, opponents of high-stakes assessments believe a strategy known as opt-out-having parents refuse to let their children take state-mandated tests-could force policymakers to take note of their cause. Once considered a rarity, the optout push has prompted high-profile boycott efforts and meetings in large districts such as Chicago and led more parents nationwide to join forces with anti-testing advocates in arguing that the assessments are unnecessary, excessive, and, in some cases, even harmful to students. Such efforts come at a time when states across the country are preparing to field-test assessments aligned with the Common Core State Standards, and when controversy over the common core in many statehouses has reignited the debate over testing overload. In Chicago, where students started taking the Illinois Stan- dards Achievement Test last week, teachers at two schools will likely face disciplinary action for refusing to administer the assessment. Parent advocates last week were asserting that up to 2,000 students in grades 3-8 opted out, though a Chicago school district official disputed that tally, estimating the number to be fewer than 1,000. Rallies and meetings promoting parents' rights to refuse student testing are planned in a wide range of communities, from Denver to PAGE 19> Political, Policy Feuds Roil Indiana's K-12 Landscape By Andrew Ujifusa Indianapolis For anyone seeking a mixture of Students work on designing and building a model home during an engineering class at Science Leadership Academy at Beeber in Philadelphia. fierce education policy fights, governance struggles under a spotlight, and wrangling over the hottest K-12 topic in the nation-the common core-Indiana is the perfect venue. The key leaders are clear, and the conflicts aren't drab affairs. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz, a Democrat swept into office in a 2012 upset, unsuccessfully sued the appointed state board of education in October when board members sought help from the GOPcontrolled legislature on A-F school accountability. A spat at a November state board meeting about the powers of a new agency created last year by Republican Gov. Mike Pence became heated enough that a mediator was assigned to help. Ms. Ritz, a former school media specialist, then cried foul over a plan the agency discussed to remove her as head of the state board. And now Indiana is poised to re- place the Common Core State Standards with something different but not entirely dissimilar, with uncertain consequences for testing, accountability, and instruction. The environment became so tense that U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan told a group of reporters in January, "It's a level of dysfunction that I have never seen before." Relative calm has prevailed more recently, and cooperation has emerged in some areas. But the atmosphere is a far cry from the dynamic that prevailed from 2009 through 2012, when then-Gov. Mitch Daniels and thenSuperintendent Tony Bennett, both Republicans, frequently collaborated. "The different people in different roles expose different weaknesses in the system," said Gordon Hendry, a Democratic member of the state school board appointed last year by Gov. Pence, who, like Ms. Ritz, took office last year. Although several states are having vigorous debates about repealPAGE 26> Jessica Kourkounis for Education Week Erich Schlegel for Education Week

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Education Week - March 12, 2014