In the News – Does Common Core Cometh?

Common Core – Does it Cometh?

Field-Testing Set to Begin on Common Core Exams
National field-testing has begun on Common Core assessments. Over the next three weeks, more than 4 million students in 36 states, including Louisiana, will take new math and English language arts assessments from PARCC and Smarter Balanced. Results will be used to determine if there are questions that might confuse or overwhelm students and also whether or not schools have the technological capacity to handle large-scale, computer-based testing.

In honor of the hundreds of Louisiana students field testing PARCC this week, the Times-Picayune is publishing sample questions. will post a new question online each day just before noon and post the answer the following day.

There’s a new sheriff in town: Louisiana judges Common Core alignment
Education Gadfly is impressed by Louisiana’s review of Common Core curricula. Gadfly says Louisiana’s detailed analysis of available resources, which rates each resource based on how well it is aligned with Common Core, “shows how state leaders can send powerful signals to the marketplace about what teachers and students in their states need to meet the demands of state standards.”

Jindal criticizes Common Core tests
Governor Jindal says that he supports rigorous academic standards but not federal, one-size-fits-all testing, and he has concerns about Common Core and PARCC testing. Some wonder if the governor is officially coming out against Common Core and PARCC testing, but the Council for a Better Louisiana says it is hard to tell what the governor means. CABL says Common Core standards are more rigorous, which the governor supports, and PARCC is not a federal test but created by a consortium of states, which the governor should support as well.

House committee clears bill on student privacy
A bill that would affect how the state can store and share public school student data won approval in the House Education Committee. The bill would limit access to student data and require the state to develop and use student identification numbers instead of Social Security numbers. Student privacy has become an issue in the debate over Common Core.

Special Ed Funding Changes for RSD Schools

Recovery School District charters to have new special education funding rules
Starting this fall, RSD New Orleans will revise its differentiated funding formula for students with special needs. The new formula has five tiers, ranging from $1,500 to $20,000, and is tied to both diagnosis and the total number of minutes students receive services each week. While more funds will be allocated to the more expensive to educate special needs students, the new formula does not change the total amount of money RSD receives in state and local funds for its students. So, funding for other students will decrease, but RSD estimates that no school’s budget will shrink by more than 2 percent.

Latest on Superintendent Search

Orleans Parish School Board punts on superintendent finalists: no second interviews yet
OPSB has interviewed the four candidates that its search firm recommended for school superintendent, but it has postponed bringing any of the candidates back for a second interview. For information about the individual candidates, click on these links: Thomas Darden, Edmond Heatley, D’Juan Hernandez, and Kyle Wedberg.

National Stories

Nation Falls Far Short on Educational Equity, Data Show
Data from the U.S. Department of Education show persistent and widespread disparities from prekindergarten through high school between disadvantaged students and their peers. Minorities and students with limited English proficiency are more likely to be taught by inexperienced teachers, attend a high school with limited math and science offerings, and be disciplined at higher rates than their white peers, even in preschool.

Another Study Fuels Movement to Push Back High School Start Times
A new study from the University of Minnesota shows that later start times for high schools – 8:30 a.m. or later – results in better academic performance, reduced tardiness rates, and even reductions in teenage car crashes in the areas surrounding schools. Researchers collected data from more than 9,000 students at eight public high schools in five districts in Colorado, Minnesota, and Wyoming.

In Other News

National black pro-charter, pro-voucher group meets in New Orleans
The Black Alliance for Educational Options held its national symposium in New Orleans this year. BAEO promotes education reforms and parental choice policies, including charter schools and vouchers, that empower low-income and working-class Black families. This year’s symposium included a panel on New Orleans schools after Hurricane Katrina with former Loyola University professor Andre Perry, RSD Superintendent Patrick Dobard, OPSB President Nolan Marshall Jr., Sophie B. Wright Principal Sharon Clark, and Neerav Kingsland, chief executive of New Schools for New Orleans.

New Orleans charter schools scramble to teach non-English speakers
Some non-English-speaking parents say they aren’t receiving the support or resources they need to understand what is going on in their children’s schools. In New Orleans, this issue has been complicated by the growth of non-English-speaking families after Katrina and a decentralized school system where independent charters must build programs for non-English-speaking students from scratch.

New Orleans’ two school systems approve landmark agreement
OPSB and RSD have approved a cooperative endeavor agreement (CEA) between the two systems. The CEA is aimed at improving services for students with disabilities, students with severe behavioral problems and mental health issues, and students with persistent truancy. It also addresses facility and other issues.

Finalist for $80k Orleans Parish School Board job was girlfriend of board member
One of two finalists for OPSB’s director of student attendance and truancy was the then-girlfriend of board member Ira Thomas. Although Thomas strongly advocated for OPSB to fund the position at the February board meeting, he says he did not influence the committee during the interview process or violate any nepotism laws. OPSB has since decided to rethink the position, so no one was hired.