Oklahoma is a State to Watch for Competency Education

Late last year and early this year, the Oklahoma State Department of Education and the Oklahoma State Board of Education adopted changes to their Administrative Rules that make them a state to watch in the competency education space. I was Continue reading

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With Sprinkles Please

Matt Williams writes about why the latest Race to the Top iteration adds to an increasingly disjointed education policy agenda. By attempting to tackle a plethora of educational issues with relatively small amounts of money has the obsession with RTTT left us with little of substance? Continue reading

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Competency Education is in Good Hands

Along with representatives from the Governor’s office, state legislators, folks from the department of education, and superintendents and other district leaders from across the state, we discussed several aspects on competency education including graduation requirements, assessment, accountability, teacher preparation, and professional development Continue reading

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Not So Fast, My Friend

Late last week and into the weekend I was at the CCSSO annual policy forum in Richmond, VA. On Friday morning the keynote speaker was former governor of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew he was a Republican, social conservative, former governor presidential candidate, and FOX talk show host, but what would he actually say about education? I knew he was an advocate for the Common Core just as former Republican governors Jeb Bush and Mitch Daniels are. But beyond that what would he say?
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ESEA Waiver Renewal

In late August, the U. S. Department of Education released its guidance for ESEA Waiver Renewal. As many pundits have noted, Secretary Duncan attached more strings to states earning renewal of their waiver. As it stands, to get a two-year extension of their waivers, states must reaffirm their commitment to college and career ready standards, esea-flex3assessments aligned to those standards, and to the implementation of their designed and submitted system of differentiated accountability (with an expressed focus on closing achievement gaps). This is all expected fare, to be honest, both the focus and the new strings. Currently 41 states have waivers. The bulk of those (35) were granted in Rounds 1 and 2 of the waiver process and these states will be the first to run through the new drills to get their renewals. Continue reading

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ESEA Waiver Renewal

here is one line in the Department’s press release that is really interesting to me, “… (the Department’s renewal process) will also provide an opportunity for states to make necessary adjustments to their approved plans for improving student learning and the quality of instruction.” This is interesting to me because I wonder how far the Department will let states go with those adjustments. Will they allow waivers within a state’s waiver for programs like Kentucky’s Districts of Innovation? What about enabling states interested in moving towards competency education, like those in CCSSO’s Innovation Lab Network, to pilot parallel assessment and accountability systems for a subset of districts? It seems to me that if the Department is interested in allowing states to be truly innovative in the way we deliver education to our students, this waiver renewal process may be an important, and maybe their last, opportunity to do that. Continue reading

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Common Core: High Standards are Not Inappropriate, They Are Essential

This is the perfect argument for why high standards are not inappropriate but essential. Just because something is hard doesn’t mean it’s not right or needed or vital. As a species we have always tackled what is hard. We came out of the cave, harnessed fire, built the wheel, created art, designed architecture, and went to the moon. It is who we are. We crave what is difficult and what propels us forward. I’m not comparing the Common Core to fire or to the moon shoot. But it is what is next for education. How can we grow economically as a nation if we don’t educate our students against high standards? How can we be okay with our college students spending PELL grants, loans, and hard earned money on courses that don’t count towards graduation? How can we look our children in the eyes and lie to them at graduations across this country by telling them they are now ready to tackle the challenges before them? It may be hard. It may be a big lift. But it is absolutely essential because I’m not going to look my three kids in the eyes and lie to them. Continue reading

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