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Common Core Update: What to Watch in 2015

Wednesday, January 14, 2015 -- Scott Sterling

The new year brings more anticipation and anxiety about the future of the Common Core State Standards, the associated tests, and the overall status of public education in America. The standards have come to be a complex and controversial issue, surrounded by a lot of uncertainty. Here are the top things to watch in 2015 that we think will help shape the state of the standards:

Spring Assessments Outcomes

Across the country this spring, a wide variety of summative tests will be administered. There will be a mix of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC), and state-created assessments. The results of these tests will likely have the greatest impact on the country’s feelings about the Common Core. Schools and educators will be evaluated (and funded) based upon their students’ performance on these tests. This has been especially concerning to those educators who have struggled to get classroom resources that are aligned to the standards.

Watch to see how results compare across those students taking the SBAC and PARCC Common Core tests and how both of those results compare to students in states using their own tests. These results will be very telling as to which kind of implementations have been the most successful.

Pending Legislation

Indiana and Oklahoma previously passed legislation repealing their adoption of the Common Core. In June 2014, South Carolina’s governor signed legislation to repeal the standards, effective for the 2015–2016 school year. There is also legislation pending in Louisiana to move away from the standards, initiated by the state’s governor, Bobby Jindal. Several other states have introduced legislation in opposition of the standards, and grass roots groups opposing the standards exist in nearly every state. Keep an eye on the legislative environment, especially after testing results are released.

2016 Election Coverage

The Common Core has incited so many strong, polarizing reactions that it is inevitable that the standards have become a political hot-button issue. Although the 2016 elections seem far away, there’s a lot of informal campaigning going on already. The Common Core will only become a bigger issue as candidates announce their campaign intentions and solidify their platforms. There is the potential for the Common Core to be a highly influential issue, especially for the many conservative politicians who have tended to oppose the program.   

Listen to the Quiet States

In research for this post, the news articles available were overwhelmingly negative and mostly covered the states that are against the standards. Even though they are the “loudest,” it’s important to monitor the states that aren’t receiving the news coverage. Although news coverage seems to tell another story, a majority of states are proceeding with the Common Core. Be sure to keep track of the education news coming out of those states to get a balanced idea of what’s happening and how the standards are working.

So what does this mean for students and educators in 2015? For now, it means that the status quo of testing and uncertainty will be maintained, but bigger changes could be on the horizon. In the meantime, we have a number of resources that can help prepare you for the upcoming assessments, such as Top Five Common Core Questions Answered, Seven Tips to Ensure That Your Learners are Prepared, and Six Professional Development Tips for Teachers. What do you foresee happening in regard to the Common Core this year? Let us know in the comments section.