The increasingly polarized education policy debate is not just about whether teachers feel the sting of public criticism or whether school budgets suffer another round of cuts. It’s not even about the hot-button issues getting all the attention like merit pay or charter schools.
What’s at stake is more basic: Whether the right to a free public education for all children will survive as a fundamental democratic promise in our society, and whether the schools and districts needed to provide it are going to survive as public institutions.
In brief, the paper suggests the creation of a coordinating council (made up of governors, legislators, and school officials) to keep track of Common Core implementation as it goes forward and facilitate inter-state communication, as well as monitor and report on progress.
Graduation Requirements / Keystone Exams
Information from PDE, October 2010
There are 4 testing options:
Use keystone exam as course finals – counts as 1/3 of course grade
Use keystone exam as stand-alone tests – no impact on final course grade – students must be proficient
Develop local system of assessment – must be externally validated by state
Use AP or IB exams where appropriate
Two stage implementation
Current 7th and 8th graders (class of 2015 and 16) must demonstrate proficiency on 4 exams (Alg1, Lit, Comp, Bio)
Current 6th graders (class of 2017 and beyond) must demonstrate proficiency on 6 out of 10 exams in 4 areas: 2 English, 2 math, 1 science, 1 social studies
… a FAQ and clarifying materials will be forthcoming
Who should participate this year?
PDE invites all districts to consider participating – those districts will receive data on how students performed on the new exams and this will provide a good sample for PDE to set cut scores
If a district plans to use keystones, and has students in grades 7/8 enrolled in algebra 1, those students must take the algebra 1 exam (however, cut scores won’t be set until after school ends, so the results can not be calculated in final course grades); the exam will be “banked” for graduation requirements
When should exams be given?
Local districts will decide when students are ready, typically at end of course
PDE recommends Eng Comp at end of grade 9 English, and Lit at end of grade 10 … but these are only recommendations
For schools with integrated mathematics programs, PDE recommends Algebra 1 at the end of year 2, Geometry at the middle of year 3 and algebra 2 at the end of year 3 … again, only recommendations
Administration windows will probably be January, May, August – exact schedule TBD
There will be no modified keystones developed for special needs students
when will exams windows be open?
Early may 2011 – exact date TBD
operational Algebra 1, Literature, Biology
field test English comp, Algebra 2, Geometry
Both paper / pencil and online modes will be offered; schools can give one or the other, or a combination
Window will be very tight in order to score and report normative data before school closes
There will be some constructed response questions that need to be scored
In November 2010, districts will be asked whether they will administer keystones in May and whether they want to administer using paper or online (or both); be aware that computers will have to be prepped for online testing – tech assistance will be provided by DRC (November’s decision does not “lock” anyone in for future decisions)
In Spring 2011, districts will be asked if they intend to develop local assessment system (although that does not lock anyone in for the future)
What is the local assessment validation process and timeline?
A committee is currently working on criteria for validation
PDE will provide approximagely18 months to develop local assessments and submit them; districts can continue using local assessments as long as PDE is notified
In 2012-13, PDE plans to replace 11th grade PSSA with keystone exams for purposes of AYP, therefore ALL students will be required to take the Algebra 1, Literature, and Biology Keystone exams; there is currently no new information on federal approval
“…one, federal control and direction of education policy have largely replaced state and local control, a decisive and historic change that can be credited to (or blamed on) President George W. Bush and NCLB; two, the models for Race to the Top—Chicago and New York City—indicate that our schools will see a great deal of change in the years ahead, but not much improvement in the quality of education, if any. To the contrary, the search for higher scores is likely to promote a significant narrowing of the curriculum, cheating, teaching to the test, and other negative outcomes. To the extent that our students learn less history, science, civics, geography, foreign languages, and the arts, their education will be far worse than it is today.”
“It’s easier nowadays to create one edition for one situation and a different edition for another situation,” said Bob Resnick, founder of Education Market Research, based in New York. “I don’t believe the Texas curriculum will spread anyplace else.”
“The final set of common academic standards was released today, capping months of closed-door work to write them and months more to revise them with feedback from state education officials, teachers’ unions, and other education interest groups.”