| NEWS | Curriculum Matters
A large majority of middle school math teachers say the common core is more rigorous than their state’s prior mathematics standards. At the same time, most teachers reported receiving fewer than 20 hours of professional development over the past year related to the common core, according to findings from a joint project among researchers at several universities supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation.
The survey, conducted this spring, involved 403 middle school math teachers from 43 of the 45 states to adopt the common-core math standards. The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Rochester (in New York), Western Michigan University, Michigan State University, and Washington State University Tri-Cities.
More than 85 percent said the common-core math standards were more rigorous than their state’s. In all, 71 percent of teachers “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that the focus on math practices is the “biggest innovation” of the standards.
—Erik W. Robelen
| NEWS | State EdWatch
On the off chance people were looking for a lively discussion about the connections between the Common Core State Standards and teacher evaluations on a mid-summer Sunday afternoon, they would have found it at the National Association of State Boards of Education’s annual conference in Arlington, Va., on July 28.
The 2013-14 academic year is shaping up to be a year when both topics will begin to converge in schools, as 17 states will be asking districts to fully implement new teacher evaluations, Angela Minnici, the principal researcher in the American Institutes for Research’s education program, said during a panel discussion.
With pilots of newly aligned assessments also slated to be given to students in 2013-14, state board members and others should no longer consider the common core and educator evaluations on two different tracks. Challenges include getting trained professionals to administer the evaluation systems, recasting teacher certification and professional development, and finding more reliable measures of teacher performance, Minnici said.
The NASBE audience expressed anxiety about that convergence. One attendee said that implementing the standards and new evaluations simultaneously was putting too much stress on those in the classroom: “Our teachers are going crazy.”
| NEWS | Politics K-12
The Newark, N.J., mayor, Cory Booker, is one of the most prominent Democrats to embrace private school vouchers. He’s teamed up with his chief Garden State political rival, Republican Gov. Chris Christie, to help birth a new Newark teacher contract that includes merit pay. And, for good measure, he persuaded Mark Zuckerberg, of Facebook fame, to donate an astonishing $100 million to the long-struggling Newark school system.
Now Booker is likely to be the next U.S. senator from New Jersey. With a commanding lead for the Aug. 13 Democratic primary, he appears likely to trounce his GOP opponent in the special election to fill the seat of the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg, a Democrat.
Years ago, Booker was one of the galvanizing forces in bringing together a cadre of high-powered Wall Street donors with an interest in education policy. They worked together to support his early races for City Council and mayor. The group eventually became Democrats for Education Reform, which is now the signature political action committee for lefty politicians who are fans of less-than-traditional lefty policies, like charters and performance pay.
As for the No Child Left Behind Act, if Booker wins his race, as expected, he could be in place in time to vote on the Democrats’ version of the legislation.
A version of this article appeared in the August 07, 2013 edition of Education Week