Education Week - May 22, 2013 - (Page 20)

n MAY 22, 2013 n GOVERNMENT & POLITICS POLICY BRIEF A Spec. Ed. Twist on Common-Core Testing Mary Skinner-Alexander, a high school special education teacher in the Sioux Falls, S.D., district, has a student who communicates by directing his gaze at printed cards. Other students in her self-contained special education class of 9th through 12th graders are reading at the level of early-elementary students. And all will be expected to learn—and be tested on—academics based on the Common Core State Standards. Two groups of states are working on creating alternate assessments for students with severe cognitive disabilities, in work similar to the better-known test development for the general education population currently underway by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consor- K-12 Colors Campaigns In Virginia, New Jersey By Andrew Ujifusa In a relatively quiet election year at the state level, the high-profile governor running for re-election in New Jersey will attempt to defend and build on the big changes he initiated in the areas of teacher tenure and state control of struggling districts. And in Virginia, where the incumbent is term-limited, the governor’s contest could determine the future of major K-12 policy changes enacted this year. The two states are the only ones with gubernatorial and legislative elections next fall, although in Virginia, only the House of Delegates has seats up for grabs. (By contrast, 2014 will bring 36 gubernatorial races, and all but four states will hold state legislative elections next year.) New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, has already tried to steal the thunder of his presumptive Democratic opponent, state Sen. Barbara Buono, on education. In Virginia, meanwhile, school finance and differentiated diplomas have emerged as early issues for Republican candidate Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, the state attorney general, and Democrat Terry McAuliffe, a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, who are vying to succeed Republican Gov. Robert F. McDonnell. teacher tenure through a legislature controlled by Democrats, and clashed vociferously with teachers’ unions, some of his most prominent foes in the state. He and Commissioner of Education Christopher Cerf—who was appointed by Mr. Christie in 2011 and confirmed by the state Senate last year—also received approval for a waiver of provisions of the federal No Child Left Behind Act. That flexibility expands the state’s authority over low-performing schools. The state can close schools that don’t respond to the turnaround plans specified in the approved waiver. A campaign spokesman for Mr. Garden State Showdown Christie, Kevin Roberts, stressed the During his first term as New bipartisan agreements the governor Jersey governor, Mr. Christie has has crafted with lawmakers and pushed significant changes to his work with the Newark teachers’ emoen, the project director for the ncsc. The project leaders at the dlm are creating a vast web of interconnected skills for teachers to follow, starting from the most basic, that all link to academic standards. “There’s been no large-scale assessment that’s been done anything like this before,” said Neal Kingston, the project director of the dlm. He said the goal is to embed assessments in instructional materials that teachers want to use anyway. Under the Radar The broader common-core effort, adopted by all but four states so far, is experiencing pushback from a variety of activists—including from those who view it as usurping local authority and those who oppose a “test-driven” approach to education. But the alternate-assessment groups have been able to quietly push out their work to educators they say are eager to have the information. In Sioux Falls, Ms. Skinner-Alexander is PAGE 22 > ‘Sequester’ Affects Social Studies NAEP Talk about a teachable moment in civics class. National Assessment of Educational Progress, a.k.a. “the nation’s report card,” for civics, history, and geography is being scaled back as a result of the budget cuts required through sequestration. The executive committee of the National Assessment Governing Board, on the recommendation of the National Center for Education Statistics, voted recently to indefinitely postpone the 4th and 12th grade naep in the three subjects for 2014. The exams will continue for 8th graders. The move will help save $6.8 million. Sequestration hit nearly every federal agency, including the U.S. Department of Education, in March. The cuts are set to stay in place for the next 10 years unless Congress and the Obama administration are able to come up with a compromise on long-term spending. ■ Rich Schultz/AP By Christina A. Samuels tium and the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or parcc. The alternate-assessment consortia are Dynamic Learning Maps, which is made up of 14 states and is based at the University of Kansas in Lawrence; and the National Center and State Collaborative, which includes 24 states and the District of Columbia and is managed out of the University of Minnesota. The tests, being developed with federal funding, are to be given for the first time in the 2014-15 school year. Leaders of the dlm and ncsc consortia say that test design is only one part of their work, and arguably, secondary to developing model lessons, instructional resources, and specific guidance that teachers will need to appropriately apply the standards to a student population that has only relatively recently been exposed to academic work as opposed to just life-skills training. “We anticipated in our project that we needed to provide a pathway not only for students, but for teachers, in implementation of the Common Core State Standards,” said Rachel Quen- Steve Helber/AP-File Severe cognitive disabilities require unique assessments Mel Evans/AP S KEY. OTE) EDUCATION WEEK Rogelio V. Solis/AP-File ed 20 union to create a merit-pay system in that district. He said Mr. Christie’s preferred approach is not top-down control but “hands-on, ground-level reform,” in contrast to what he characterized as the approach of past Democratic administrations. “The calling card here has been one of engagement, across the board,” Mr. Roberts said. He denied that Mr. Christie’s policy moves, which rely on Regional Achievement Centers to monitor low-performing schools and potentially revamp their curricula and learning-time requirements, amount to “full-blown takeovers” of districts. New Jersey has a 20-year history of taking over troubled districts under its then-groundbreaking state-takeover law, but the results PAGE 22 > CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: Virginia Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Ken Cuccinelli, the state’s attorney general, are facing off in the race for governor. State Sen. Barbara Buono, a Democrat, is challenging Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, in New Jersey’s gubernatorial election. In the case of naep, the sequestration cuts hit late in the federal fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30. That meant that the board, which sets policy for naep, didn’t have many areas to choose from, since money for activities like data collection had already gone out the door. “I don’t think it was any particular lack of interest in social studies,” on the part of the executive committee, said Jack Buckley, the nces commissioner. Instead, he said the panel was “trying to make the best decision from a bad set of options.” The executive committee kicked around other options, such as making cuts in the area of reporting and electronic dissemination, but decided none of those ideas would save enough money to be worthwhile. Naep is voluntary in civics, history, and geography, but nearly every state participates, Mr. Buckley said. Advocates for social studies education, who had actually been hoping nagb would expand naep in social studies, are none too happy about the move. They say it will make it harder to gauge whether students are making progress in social studies, an area that some say has been overlooked in favor of reading, math, and even science. “It’s awful,” said Susan Griffin, the executive director of the National Council for the Social Studies. “It’s sending exactly the message that we’ve been complaining [about] for over a decade ... that these subjects —ALYSON KLEIN aren’t important.” Seq Cuts Stud Fewe civic tests boar 32Po EW B DESIG DO NO

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - May 22, 2013

Education Week - May 22, 2013
District Bets Big on Standards
FOCUS ON: EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS: States Stepping Up Mandates for School Safety Drills
INDUSTRY & INNOVATION: Schools Facing the Expiration of Windows XP
News in Brief
Report Roundup
Debates Roil Over Control of Schools in Baton Rouge
Study: Teenagers’ Brains Are Wired for Peer Approval
Analysis Calls for Dual-Language Pre-K for Young ELLs
PROFILE: Brian Pick
PROFILE: Dowan Mcnair-Lee
PROFILE: Mikel Robinson
States Tighten Disclosure of Teacher Evaluations
Blogs of the Week
NRC Framework Seen as Valued Resource for Educators
A Spec. Ed. Twist on Common-Core Testing
K-12 Colors Campaigns in Virginia, New Jersey
Policy Brief
CYNTHIA G. BROWN: The ‘How’ of Equitable School Funding
JIM CHILDRESS: Designing Learning Spaces for A New Age of Discovery
JEANNE ZAINO: Teaching the Metric System: A Cautionary Tale for the Common Core
Topschooljobs Recruitment Marketplace
LISA HANSEL: The Common Core Needs a Common Curriculum

Education Week - May 22, 2013