Update: Mass. Adopts Common Core

The Boston Globe reports that the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education unanimously voted this morning to adopt the national Common Core standards. Read the full story here. Massachusetts is now the 28th state to adopt Common Core.

Statement from Governor Patrick:

Massachusetts leads the nation in public education. Our children perform in the top tier, not just in the country but in the world. I want to keep it that way. That means we have to continue to raise the bar. That’s why we passed the education reform bill, to close the achievement gap once and for all. And that’s why I support the Board’s decision to sign on to the national Common Core standards. These standards will be as strong as the ones we already have in place, and in some cases will be stronger. And they are consistent with our MCAS, which has been and will continue to be a key element of our progress. Common Core will enhance the Commonwealth’s already rigorous standards.

UPDATE:

  • Release from the MA Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
  • Statement from Boston Public School Superintendent Carol Johnson
  • Statement from Lt. Governor Tim Murray
  • NECN coverage: Mass. board unanimously approves national education standards
  • AP story: Mass. board approves education curriculum change
  • ASCD blog post: Critical Mass. for Common Core
  • Boston Herald story:  Mass. ed board votes to adopt fed standards

UPDATE–July 22 coverage:

  • Boston Globe op/ed: The education carrot
  • Boston Globe “Rock the Schoolhouse” blog post: Let’s celebrate: We have national standards
  • Boston Globe story: State panel adopts US academic standards
  • Boston Herald story: Critics: Education test standards too Common
  • Education Week story: Mass. adopts Common Core amid fiery debate
  • Fox25 Boston coverage: What new education standards mean for MA
  • Fox News story: Massachusetts raises concern by swapping state curriculum for national standards
  • National Review story: The Common Core curriculum
  • NECN coverage: Mixed reaction to Common Core decision
  • Quincy Patriot Ledger story: New educational standards comes as surprise for parents
  • WBUR coverage: New ed. standards stress public speaking, probability
  • Worcester Telegram & Gazette story: State adopts new academic standards

Mass. Standards Versus Common Core

The Thomas B. Fordham Institute released a new study, The State of State Standards–and the Common Core–in 2010, which offers a state-by-state comparison of Common Core vs. states’ existing academic standards. The study’s central findings are:

  • Based on our criteria, the Common Core standards are clearly superior to those currently in use in 39 states in math and 37 states in English. For 33 states, the Common Core is superior in both math and reading.
  • Three jurisdictions boast ELA standards that are clearly superior to the Common Core: California, the District of Columbia, and Indiana. Another 11 states have ELA standards that are in the same league as the Common Core (or “too close to call”).
  • Eleven states plus the District of Columbia have math standards in the “too close to call” category, meaning that, overall, they are at least as clear and rigorous as the Common Core standards.

How did Massachusetts fare? The study deemed both ELA and math standards “too close to call.” A full analysis of Massachusetts is available here.

Fordham’s president Chester Finn described the study’s results on WBUR’s Morning Edition today; listen to the story here. The Massachusetts Board of Education is expected to vote on adopting the Common Core standards today.

On Twitter: Follow WBUR @WBUR; follow the Fordham Institute @EducationGadfly; follow the Massachusetts Secretary of Education, Paul Reville, @MassEducation

Massachusetts Considers Common Core Standards

Massachusetts’ Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester has recommended that Massachusetts schools adopt a unified set of national academic standards known as “Common Core Standards,” calling them as strong–if not stronger–than the state’s existing standards. In a memo he wrote to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, the commissioner listed the strengths that distinguish the Common Core standards:

  • The focus on reading and writing across the curriculum
  • The attention to speaking, listening, and vocabulary
  • The treatment of text complexity and approaches to matching with student reading skills
  • The consideration of emerging, new literacies (digital and print sources) for research and production and distribution of ideas and messages
  • The treatment of varying student needs and achievement levels in the delivery of the mathematics curriculum
  • The accessibility of the mathematics standards to grades K-8 teachers
  • The vertical articulation of the mathematics standards as enhanced by the habits of mind that are critical to effective mathematics practice

The Board will vote tomorrow on the adoption of the standards, so stay tuned.

See which states have already adopted the Common Core standards here and follow the Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education on Twitter @MassDESE.

Mass in Motion grants $85,000 to Boston & Brockton

Mass in MotionThe Mass in Motion campaign, sponsored by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH), this week awarded $25,000 in wellness grants to Boston and $60,000 to Brockton to improve community health and reduce chronic disease.

DPH says the funding will support community efforts to initiate policy and environmental changes to support healthy eating and active living. Boston and Brockton plan to create or expand existing partnerships among local government, community leaders, faith-based organizations, councils on aging, health care providers, businesses, and others to lead this effort. These two Mass in Motion grants  in addition to the more than $1 million in grants distributed to 12 other communities last year.

“As we kick off the second year of the Mass in Motion campaign, I am thrilled that we are able to continue to help cities and towns make an investment in creating healthier communities,” said Governor Deval Patrick. “We look forward to supporting Boston and Brockton as they bring Mass in Motion to life by successfully and creatively helping city residents make healthy choices and build a stronger Commonwealth.”

5 Ways to Improve Literacy Among Massachusetts Students

A new report out of the Boston-based Strategies for Children called Turning the Page: Refocusing Massachusetts for School Success says that efforts to increase literacy and produce strong readers need to be stepped up for children birth through age 9. According to data on their website,  31% of third graders in Boston are proficient on the MCAS reading test–that’s a full 26% lower than the state average of 57%. Taking a deeper look, the study also shows that two-thirds of low-income students and one-third of students who are not poor do not read at grade level.

With third-grade reading level a critical predictor of later success, the report, written by Nonie Lesaux, PhD, of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, recommends five avenues for improvement:

  1. Reallocate funds and alter policy to ensure programs are delivered effectively and with sufficient intensity.
  2. Conduct early and ongoing assessment of children’s language and reading and of the quality of services and supports.
  3. Increase adults’ capacity to assess and support children’s language and reading development.
  4. Bring language-rich, rigorous, and engaging reading curricula into early education and care settings, as well as pre-kindergarten to third grade classrooms.
  5. Expand and strengthen work with families across learning settings and within communities.

To promote reading among Boston’s students, Read Boston, one of City Connects’ community partners, provides students with free books and creates classroom libraries in elementary schools that allow students to take books home to read with their families. What effective reading programs are in place in your community?

Massachusetts Governor Signs Anti-bullying Bill

Today, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick signed far-reaching anti-bullying legislation. From the State House press release:

“As Governor and as a parent, I feel very strongly that no child should feel threatened or unsafe in our schools,” said Governor Patrick. “Today, with this new law, we are giving our teachers, parents and kids the tools and protections they need so that every student has a chance to reach their full potential. I am proud to sign this bill and thank the Legislature for delivering on this critical priority.”

The release spells out new anti-bullying measures for teachers, schools, and communities:

  • All school staff must fully and swiftly detail any instance of bullying or retaliation to the appropriate school official.
  • The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE) will establish statewide academic standards that include age-appropriate instruction in bullying prevention.
  • Every school, public and private, must publish detailed bullying prevention, intervention, and notification plans in student handbooks.
  • Districts must provide all school staff–from bus drivers to athletic coaches–targeted professional development to build the skills necessary to prevent, identify and respond appropriately to bullying incidents.
  • Rules and penalties apply to incidents that occur outside of school in the community and online (“cyber-bullying”)

You can follow the Governor’s office on Twitter for real-time updates like these: @MassGovernor

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