Education Week - August 29, 2012 - (Page 6)

6 EDUCATION WEEK n AUGUST 29, 2012 n Educator Cadres Formed to Support Common Tests By Stephen Sawchuk Chicago One of the groups designing tests aligned to the Common Core State Standards has launched a major effort to help state teams of educators understand—and be able to translate for their peers—what the new assessments will entail for classroom instruction. The Educator Leadership Cadres, as the initiative is known, is effectively a nod by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers to respond to the concerns of scholars and practitioners. They say that teachers’ practices are unlikely to change without widespread understanding of the standards’ new academic demands, as well as how those demands will be measured. “Teachers are the first and probably the most important group to reach, but building principals are second—they are the keepers of the change,” said Doug C. Sovde, the director of instructional support and educator engagement for Achieve, the Washington-based nonprofit that serves as the project-management partner for parcc. The meeting, held here Aug. 21-23, focused on helping the teams gain a deep understanding of parcc’s analysis of the standards and its newly released sample assessment items. Supported by a $16 million supplemental grant under the federal Race to the Top assessment program, the cadres are envisioned as “ambassadors” for parcc as it finalizes its assessments and releases tools and guidelines for teachers and the public to use. The other federally funded group, Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, also is convening state-based teams of teachers, who will help write that consortium’s assessment items, among other things. Teachers from parcc states will serve as item reviewers. The parcc cadres will have three more face-to-face trainings, in addition to five virtual meetings, before the assessments are launched in the 2014-15 school year. (The first cohort of state cadres held its initial meeting earlier this summer.) Each state participating in parcc selected 24 educators for its cadre, 12 each for English/language arts and mathematics. The selection process was left up to each state; some used a formal application process, while others designated volunteers. About a third to a half of the cadre members are classroom teachers, parcc officials said. Composition varies by state, but, in general, the teams included a mix of K-12 teachers and administrators; higher education officials; lead teachers and coaches; and community representatives, from such groups as local chapters of the National Urban League. “ serves as a bridge between the standards and how the assessments are designed. They took turns matching the prompts that will help guide the group’s test-item developers to the eight mathematical practices, and trying to envision how a teacher would have to model the practice of “reasoning abstractly and quantitatively,” for instance. Much attention at the meeting also focused on parcc’s sample test items. They won mostly high marks from attendees, with a majority of questions focusing on matters of state technical capacity and online bandwidth to deliver the exams, which will be given on computers in most grades. areas,” “domains,” and “clusters,” noted Clark Maxon, the director of assessment for Academy School District 20, in Colorado Springs, Colo. “It will be incredibly important for parcc to bring more simplicity and clarity to these lenses,” Mr. Maxon said. “We don’t want teachers to see this as just one more thing.” Roles Undetermined Each state also determines the role that its cadre members will play in the transition to the common standards. That’s one challenge of the project, its leaders note: In some places, the cadres will be providing direct professional development; in other instances, they will act primarily as messengers or informal advisers helping to direct others to parcc tools and resources. “There’s a fine line between providing all 600 [cadre members] with common messages and tools, and making sure that they fit in the context of each state,” Achieve’s Mr. Sovde said. He expects the most advanced teams to go beyond that role, possibly reviewing or even crafting model instructional materials aligned to the standards and parcc assessments by the time the cadres’ training ends. In the meantime, many of the states began discussions about how best to use their time and what they want to accomplish. “We’re messengers; we’ll be starting with our own districts,” said Jolee Garis, an elementary math coach for the Washington Township district, in Indianapolis. She believes the eight mathematical practices will be the biggest hurdle for her teachers. “It will really change how they need to teach,” she said. “It will be outside their comfort zone.” Coverage of the implementation of the Common Core State Standards and the common assessments is supported in part by a grant from the GE Foundation, at Common core is causing serious angst in your states, your districts, and your schools. You’re here to relieve the pain.” DAVID SABA Chief Executive Officer, Laying the Foundation Despite those variations, the goal is the same. “Common core is causing serious angst in your states, your districts, and your schools,” David Saba, the chief executive officer of Laying the Foundation, a teacher-training wing of the National Math and Science Initiative and a partner on the educator-leader cadres for parcc, told the 300 cadre members. “You’re here to relieve the pain.” Up to Speed Among the tasks of the day: a crash course on parcc’s existing tools. In a math session, cadre members spent an afternoon picking apart the eight mathematical practices that underpin those standards, as well as the consortium’s model content framework in that subject. The framework In meetings with their state colleagues, participants discussed ways of introducing teachers, parents, and others to the key shifts outlined in the standards and assessments, without scaring or alienating them. The parcc materials show “the transformative power of this system, but it’s also a little overwhelming,” said Margo Roen, a Tennessee cadre member and the director of new schools for the Achievement School District, a state-run district in Tennessee. Some cadre members said they wanted more assistance in developing tools that would make the complex materials understandable to those educators just beginning to familiarize themselves with the standards and with parcc’s vision for reaching them. In addition to the model content frameworks, parcc materials analyze and group the standards into different “claims,” “critical Ala. Blocked From Asking About Students’ Citizenship Status By Lesli A. Maxwell & Mark Walsh Educators in Alabama’s public schools cannot ask newly enrolling students about their immigration status after a federal appeals court in Atlanta ruled last week that the requirement in the state’s hotly contested immigration law is unconstitutional. State officials have announced no plans to appeal the ruling. The school-related provision was one among several sections in Alabama’s immigration law, known as h.b. 56, that a threejudge panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit unanimously blocked in a pair of decisions on the statute that was challenged by the Obama administration and an Alabama civil rights group. The court also issued a similar ruling on Georgia’s immigration law. Considered to be the nation’s toughest law targeting undocumented immigrants, Alabama’s statute was the only one to include a provision that required educators to check on students’ citizenship status and keep records on the numbers of undocumented children enrolled. The appellate court agreed with civil rights groups, which said school immigration checks are a violation of the 14th Amendment’s equal-protection clause, a more sweeping argument than the more limited reasoning put forth by the Obama administration that the provision was preempted by federal immigration law. show for proof of age when they enroll. “We are very grateful that we won’t have to be put in the position of being immigration officers,” said William Lawrence, the principal of Foley Elementary School, in the immigrant-heavy community of Foley, Ala. But Mr. Lawrence said he remains concerned about the lasting, chilling effects of the law, which at his school has brought to a standstill any new enrollments of students who are not U.S.-born. “We haven’t had a single student enroll with us since last fall who didn’t have a U.S. birth certificate. I’m worried that new immigrant kids are out there but they aren’t coming to school.” Known as Section 28, the schools provision “imposes a substantial burden on the right of undocumented schoolchildren to receive an education,” U.S. Circuit Judge Charles R. Wilson wrote for the panel in the ruling in Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama v. Governor of Alabama. “Section 28 operates to place undocumented children, and their families, in an impossible dilemma: Either admit your unlawful status outright or concede it through silence.” The panel blocked several other sections in the Alabama law, but did uphold a central provision that authorizes police to check the immigration status of people that they detain. That ruling falls in line with the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling earlier this summer on the key part of Arizona’s similar immigration law, which orders police to demand proof of citizenship or legal immigration status from suspects they detain. lic schools were required to check the birth certificates of enrolling students, and if those documents weren’t available, the child’s parent or guardian was to notify the school of the child’s citizenship status within 30 days. If no notice was received in that time frame, schools were to count that child as not having legal status to be in the United States. The court rejected the state’s contention that the provision treated all students equally because public schools are required to check documentation of all new students. “Clearly, the law contemplates no interest in the birthplace of any child who is lawfully present, and the blanket requirement that all students show a birth certificate is simply a necessary means by which Section 28 forces unlawful present aliens to divulge their unlawful status,” Judge Wilson wrote. He drew parallels to the tuition requirement for undocumented students who sought to enroll in Texas schools, which was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in the landmark 1982 Plyler v. Doe decision. Limited Practical Impact On a practical level, the ruling on the student-status provision doesn’t change much because its enforcement had already been put on hold by the 11th Circuit. Melissa Valdes-Hubert, a spokeswoman for Alabama’s department of education, said schools this fall would continue to follow enrollment procedures that were in place before the immigration law took effect last September. Those procedures give educators flexibility as to the kinds of documents that students can Moving On A statement from Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, a Republican, issued after the ruling indicated that the state would not file an appeal. “The core of Alabama’s immigration law remains that if you live or work in the state, you should do so legally,” he said. “It is time now to move past court battles and focus on enforcement of Alabama’s law.” Under the Alabama law, pub-

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - August 29, 2012

Education Week - August 29, 2012
FOCUS ON: AGE: Districts Adjust To Growth in Older Population
Catholic Ed., K-12 Charters Squaring Off
Advocacy Tactics Found To Differ by Families’ Class
Table of Contents
News in Brief
Report Roundup
Educator Cadres Formed to Support Common Tests
Ala. Blocked From Asking About Students’ Citizenship Status
Most Students Still Not College-Ready, ACT Report Finds
Study: Vouchers Linked to College-Going For Black Students
NSF Awards Grants for Climate-Change Education
Blogs of the Week
Ed. Dept. Gears Up to Manage NCLB Waiver Oversight
Poll Hints Tight Presidential Race on K-12
Policy Brief
PETER GOW: Let the Dialogue Begin: It’s Time for Independent Schools to Start Sharing What They Know
PATRICK J. MURPHY & ELLIOT M. REGENSTEIN: Trimming the Cost Of Common-Core Implementation
MALCOLM GAULD: Sowing Parents’ Role In Character Development
Top School Jobs Recruitment Marketplace
MIKE SCHMOKER: The Next Education Fad: Complex Teacher Evaluations That Don’t Work

Education Week - August 29, 2012