Cross-posted from the Curriculum Matters blog
by Catherine Gewertz
It was another eventful year for the common core. Brushfires popped up in a number of states as lawmakers—and parents—raised objections. The standards themselves were occasionally the target of attack, but more often it was the assessments being designed by PARCC and Smarter Balanced. The most-viewed blog posts of 2013 in Curriculum Matters reflect that focus on testing.
The most widely read—and heavily tweeted—post of the year touched a big nerve: how long will students have to spend taking these new tests? PARCC announced that its tests will take 8 to 10 hours. States have squirmed as both consortia tried to ease them into feeling comfortable with this much testing time; the argument is that good tests—the kind that are actually made up of stuff you’d like your kids doing in their classrooms—take more time, and yield more valuable information. But even that argument has proven hard for states to swallow; opposition to hefty testing times led Smarter Balanced to scale back its original testing length.
Another of our most-read blog posts focused on another highly sensitive topic in the states: how much the new tests will cost. PARCC’s announcement of its $29.50 pricetag drew tons of eyeballs. Getting lots of attention this year, too, were states’ decisions on whether to stick with the consortium tests or go their own way. Tons of people clicked on our post about Alabama dropping out of the consortium work and choosing to use ACT’s new Aspire test instead.
A huge theme of this year was the growing chorus of demands to halt consequences linked to new common-core tests. Our post reporting AFT President Randi Weingarten’s call for such a moratorium reported on one of the highest-profile such calls.
Our readers flocked to posts about how the common core will play out for reading, writing and math instruction. Case in point: this post about how teachers are still aiming way too low with their reading assignments, and this one about the “dramatic increase” in reading necessary to meet the standards’ new demands. How common core will affect the relative balance of fiction to nonfiction that teachers teach in their classrooms was also an ongoing hot spot: the standards’ authors felt compelled to weigh in to the arguments about this in another popular blog post of 2013.
Ongoing arguments about the rigor of the common-core math kept readers gobbling up blog posts about that topic. Examples: a survey of middle-school math teachers’ views of the standards drew lots of attention, as did a post about math educators’ attitudes toward the standards.
In that year-end spirit—and with a hat-tip to Politics K-12—we offer you 10 common-core headlines we’re betting you won’t see in 2014. We welcome you to leave your own versions in the comments section below.
10. Texas Turnaround: Lone Star State Embraces PARCC Assessments
9. State Lawmakers Welcome Chance to Fund New Tests, Curriculum, Citing ‘Terrific, Shared Standards’
8. Testing Consortia Add More Performance Tasks: States Resoundingly Agree They’re Worth the Extra Time
7. Breakthrough: Consortium Tests to Be Scored Entirely By Artificial Intelligence
6. Assessment Consortium Membership Rises Again
5. All States Easily Agree to Tough, Shared Cut Scores
4. Union President Calls for Basing Evaluations on Common-Core Tests, Says ‘Teachers Should Have It Together By Now’
3. PARCC and Smarter Balanced Complete Field-Testing Without a Single Computer Glitch
2. Major Publishers’ Instructional Materials Draw Standards Authors’ Praise for ‘Wonderful’ Alignment
1. Secretary Duncan Declines to Back Common Core, Acknowleges His Support ‘Created Appearance’ of Federal Overreach
A version of this news article first appeared in the State EdWatch blog.