Kansas College and Career Ready Standards

All states have renewed their efforts to give each child a quality education by evaluating and in many cases
overhauling their state education standards. By now, most states have adopted higher College and Career Ready
Standards; some have adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), some have opted for a hybrid of the
CCSS, and others have created their own standards entirely. Whichever standards your state uses, the goal is the same: to ensure that every child graduates high school ready for college or career.

What are the State Standards, Common  Core &
Kansas College and Career Ready?

Common Core State Standards (CCSS)1 are grade-level expectations that explicitly define what students should understand and be able to do in mathematics and English language arts, from kindergarten through high school. Kansas adopted these rigorous standards in 2010, with enhancements to re-align Common Core priority standards with our own.  In 2013 Kansas approved updated standards in the two other content areas – science and history/government/social studies. All four of these content standards together are referred to as the Kansas College and Career Ready Standards.2

Consider what Common Core State Standards are NOT

Standards are NOT curriculum materials. Standards are NOT instructional strategies, nor teachers’ lesson plans. Local school districts and school boards select the curricula—instructional textbooks and materials. Teachers determine the techniques and methods they use to help students learn the curricula. Both curricula and instruction are the tools used to help students achieve state standards.

 

What do the standards look like?

Click on the Parent Roadmaps for concrete examples of the CCSS at every grade-level.3  A full detailed description of Kansas’ enhanced Common Core Mathematics and English Language Arts and Literacy Standards are available at the KSDE website, as well as the updated state standards in History, Government, and Social Studies and Science.1

Each of the content standards has its own organizational structure. Math, for example, is organized around groups of related standards, by grade level. Grades K-8 are structured around eleven groups, referred to as domains, with a designated set of domains prioritized at each grade level (see Table 1).4  At the high school level, the standards are organized by conceptual category:  number and quantity, algebra, functions, geometry, modeling, and probability & statistics. 

Grade-level prioritization is one of the important improvements over the previous standards, best visualized on this CCSSM Clickable Map. In the past, teachers and students were responsible for too many standards at each grade level, limiting teacher’s time to dig deep into any one domain.  The current structure differentiates those standards that are a priority for the grade level at hand, from upcoming domains that teachers address more for the purpose of laying a foundation for later learning.

 

Changing Education Standards?

  •  When?  K-12 education has been driven by standards since the 1990s,5  with two decades of research and evaluation to document past limitations and inform future improvements in the structure of education standards, as well as the content, implementation and ways to evaluate the public school system. States’ have typically updated their education standards every seven to ten years, spacing the revision process of each content area over successive years.
  •  Why? The changes are driven by a number of related factors that can occur over a relatively short period of time.  Since 2001 when the previous standards were adopted, for instance, new technological and scientific discoveries have been made; a good deal of research and evaluation has been conducted on education standards; new strategies for improving educational outcomes have been developed. Improvements to the 2010/2013 standards were informed by these bodies of research.

Additionally, society’s demands on youth and our public schools change from decade to decade. In 1920s, only half the school-age population even attended school. In the 1960s, teachers and students were asked to put the Civil Rights Act in place - outlawing discrimination against racial, ethnic, national and religious minorities, and women.  Not until the 1970s, were public schools expected to prevent ALL kids from dropping out (increasing 12th grade graduation rates from 65% to %100) – regardless of students learning and behavior challenges associated with poverty, language or disability. Public schools have always been expected to embrace society’s challenges, typically without adequate resources – from feeding hungry children, to screening all youth for vision and hearing needs, to preventing bullies and violence, to teaching values, preserving the arts and promoting general health (proper exercise, diet, hygiene).

The present focus on college and career readiness has a lot to do with the fact that the percentage of unskilled jobs in the U.S. labor market, attainable by young people with high school diplomas or less, have been on a steady decline from over 60% of the jobs in the 1950s, to less than 20% today. High school dropouts (formerly known as 8th grade graduates) can no longer find jobs with pensions in factories that support a family of four. At present, eight out of every ten jobs in the U.S. are classified as middle or highly skilled, requiring at least some postsecondary education or training.6

  • Nature of Change. One of the pivotal improvements to the current education standards can be characterized as ‘depth over breadth’.  In other words, the current standards have a greater focus on key concepts and processes, by prioritizing specific standards at designated grade levels.  This change is a direct response to criticism of the past: too many education standards led to superficial coverage of large amounts of content, unintentionally leaving insufficient time to explore most standards with any depth.

 

Who Contributed to the Development of the Common Core?

Development of the CCSS was informed by decades of states experiences with creating and implementing education standards, as well as from leading international models and rigorous educational research. The initiative was a states-led effort, launched several years ago by governors and state commissioners of education through membership in the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). To write the standards, the NGA Center and CCSSO brought together content experts, teachers, researchers and others. This group received nearly 10,000 comments on the standards during two public comment periods beginning in 2009. Comments, many of which helped shape the final version of the Common Core State Standards, came from teachers, parents, school administrators and other citizens concerned with education policy.7 For more for information about development of the CCSS, see these briefs on the criteria and considerations.8 Kansans were active participants in the extensive development and review process, contributing substantively to the Common Core reading and math standards.

 

Education Standards and Reauthorization of the Federal Education Act

The federal education act was supposed to be reauthorized in 2007, but has received little attention from lawmakers in Washington, D.C. until just recently (July 2013).  The Act was first passed in 1965 under the name of Elementary and Secondary Education Act and has been reauthorized six times, most recently in 2001 when it was renamed the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB)9 While reauthorization remains pending as of September 2013, Kansas State Board of Education expects to have full NCLB waiver status by the end of 2013.  The notion of state education standards were first incorporated into the federal education act in 1994 under President Clinton and then again in 2001 under President Bush. This policy change followed nearly two decades of effort to strengthen K-12 education by states governors, educators, business leaders, and parents from across the country (see History of Standards-based Education Reform;  National Education Goals Panel archives; Goals 2000: Educate America  Act of 1994).    

 

Status of Implementation

To date, over 45 states have adopted the standards, in addition to the District of Columbia, Guam, American Samoan Islands, US Virgin Islands and the Anchorage, AK School District.  Click here for Interactive Map

 

Additional Resources & References

KSDE CCSSI: Most Common Parent Questions;  Kansas Common Core Standards Fact Sheet (2011-2012); KSDE Fact Sheet:  Data Collection and the Common CorePTA Parent Resource GuideState Specific Tools

 

Complete this form to request a presentation by Kansas PTA and someone from Kansas PTA will be in touch with you to make arrangements.  Click here to access the request form.

MYTH Kansas must prohibit further implementation of the 2010 Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in order to avoid invasive student data collection. Kansas can just continue to use the pool of existing assessment items currently housed by the University of Kansas.

 

FACTSThe Kansas Department of Education is not adopting new, invasive student data reporting practices. Rather, Kansas merely updated the state education standards, which it does routinely every seven years, and is revising the associated state tests and

other accountability tools accordingly. Kansas would be engaged in this process whether we implemented the Common Core mathematics and English language arts standards or some other college and career ready standards and will do so again in 2017 in compliance with State statue. Implementation of the CCSS did not have federal data collection requirements.

 

Fact 1 – Data Privacy.  The Kansas Department of Education (KSDE) and local school districts maintain student records for a variety of reasons, from instructional purposes, to determining eligibility for special programs (free/reduced lunch, special education), forwarding transcripts for college applications, to meeting state accountability reporting requirements. Data elements include date of birth, race/ethnicity, gender, program participation including status related to English language proficiency or special education, performance on state assessments, as well as students who qualify for free/reduced priced meals. Any KSDE reports with student data are first aggregated into groups, such as district and building level data, before disseminated; no student level data are shared.1 The adoption of the CCSS has no impact on the State’s data collection requirements. The KSDE DOES NOT collect information on political affiliations or beliefs; sexual behavior or attitudes; religious practices, affiliations or beliefs or income of the student or family. Furthermore, the Family Educational Right to Privacy Act protects the privacy of student education records.2

 

Fact 2 – Kansas Assessments. Kansas has worked with the Center for Educational Testing and Evaluation (CETE) at the University of Kansas for over 30 years to fulfill summative evaluation goals for K-12 public education.3 The Center has continually analyzed and revised their bank of assessment test items for quality and security purposes. Rigorous assessment necessitates that some degree of new items and tests will always be needed. At present, Kansas is collaborating with a consortium of states, the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC)4 to develop new assessments for mathematics and English language arts standards. Because Kansas is a governing state in SBAC, the state has a vote on all major decisions. The SBAC has no membership fees – a significant savings to our state and those in the consortium. Over one million students participated in the field test of items in the spring 2013 and another million are anticipated to participate in spring 2014.

References

1 See KSDE Fact Sheet on Data Collection and Common Core

3 CETE http://cete.ku.edu/ and Kansas Assessment Program http://ksassessments.org/

   4 Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) http://www.smarterbalanced.org/about/

 

www.kansas-pta-legislative.org

Publication of the  

Kansas PTA Advocacy Leadership (2013).

Karen Wagner   klw.wagner44@gmail.com

Brian Hogsett   bhogsett12@gmail.com

Mary Sinclair, PhD    mfoxsinclair@gmail.com

 

 

MYTH Kansas will experience minimal disruption in our local school districts if the 2010 Common Core State standards (CCSS) are prohibited. Kansas could just revert back to the old standards, save money in the process and avoid invasive student data collection.

 

FACTS: Prohibiting the current mathematics and English language art standards would create major disruptions in Kansas classrooms.1 Schools across the state have implemented

the new standards, in full or incrementally, since they were adopted in October 2010.2 A legislative mandate to override the judgment and expertise of our elected school board members would require Kansas educators to disregard years of investment in time, resources and energy expended to strengthen educational outcomes for Kansas youth.

 

REALITY OF DISRUPTIONS AND COSTS

FACT 1 – Standards Cycle. Changing the standards now, prior to the Kansas 2017 scheduled review period, would create an undue financial burden on the state in addition to a step backwards for Kansas kids. The allocated budget has been expended in the recent process of updating Kansas education standards across four content areas (language arts, math, history/government, science – along with English for speakers of other languages). Each core subject required for graduation is to be reviewed every seven years according to state statute.3

 

FACT 2 – Textbooks. Pulling the state standards will not eliminate textbook expenses. Local school districts and school boards make their own decisions regarding which curriculum resources to purchase, updating textbooks on a routine cycle or as financially feasible. While many districts have aligned recent resource purchases with the new state standards, it is an inevitable expense regardless of whether or not standards have changed.

 

FACT 3 – Professional Development. Educators routinely participate in professional development throughout the school year, an evidenced-based practice that supports continual school improvement effort.4 The content of the professional development is a local decision, whether focused on Common Core, Kansas College and Career Ready standards, school safety, or some other local priority. Professional development is a basic line item of district operating budgets.

 

 

FACT 4 – Technology. The K-12 Kansas Assessment system has been computerized for several years, well before the CCSS were developed.5 Kansas public school students have taken the state assessments online since 2005, placing our state at the top of the nation in terms of technology readiness. The call to prohibit Common Core because of associated technology costs is a non-issue.

 

FACT 5 – ACT Test Alignment The high school ACT standardized tests are being redesigned and aligned with the mathematics and reading CCSS, effective as early as 2014-2015 school year.6 ACT has also developed an assessment system for grades 3-10 – called ASPIRE. A few Kansas school district have even applied for permission to use the ASPIRE and ACT as their assessment measures, while the Kansas assessment system is in transition. Kansas students who choose to take the ACT will be better prepared with the adoption of our new state standards. 

 

References

1 KS Commissioner of Education, Diane DeBacker (SMAC PTA Action Alert, email communication, May 31, 2013).

6 ACT and Common Core Standards http://www.act.org/standard/

 

www.kansas-pta-legislative.org

Publication of the  

Kansas PTA Advocacy Leadership (2013).

Karen Wagner   klw.wagner44@gmail.com

Brian Hogsett   bhogsett12@gmail.com

Mary Sinclair, PhD    mfoxsinclair@gmail.com

 

 

 

MYTH:  Common Core State Standards are a federal government takeover of K-12 public education and must be stopped.

 

FACTS:  The federal government is not taking over Kansas schools. Nor have Kansas schools lost local control of K-12 education. The initiative to develop the Common Core States Standards (CCSS) was a voluntary effort on the part of

states leaders to raise education standards.1 The Kansas College and Career Ready Standardsin mathematics and English language arts & literacy were adopted, as part of a routine seven-year cycle to update and realign Kansas K-12 education goals with the demands of a rapidly changing global society.

 

FACT 1 – LOCAL CONTROL. Local school boards across Kansas have full authority to determine the curriculum. Adoption of the new state standards does not override the constitutional right of “local public schools under the general supervision of the state board of education [to] be maintained, developed and operated by locally elected boards.3  Kansas school districts continue to make the decisions regarding how students are taught.4The State Board of Education also has complete authority to change the state’s education standards as warranted, regardless of federal incentives.5

StandardsSkills and concepts that youth are expected to acquire by the end high school.

CurriculumProgram and instructional materials chosen by local districts and school boards, used by teachers to help students meet state standards.

Lesson PlansInstructional plans and materials prepared and selected by teachers.

 

FACT 2 – STATE INITIATIVE. The process of revising and updating education standards is the responsibility of the Kansas Department of Education, under the leadership of the State Board of Education. The process involves input from experts and key stakeholders, through critical analyses, public forums, and online comment periods, along with repeated presentations and updates by the Department of Education to the Board, often extending over a period of years (see Science standards for example).6While Kansas was an active member of the CCSS development teams, enhancements were made for our own state under the ‘15% addition rule’.7 For example, the Kansas mathematics standards review committee added two major topics (probability and statistics, algebraic patterning).8 The committee further recommended that local school districts retain the authority to decide in what grade levels to incorporate these additions. In essence, Kansas considers the CCSS as a ‘floor not a ceiling’ and enriched the expectations of the Common Core to best fit the State’s priorities.

 

FACT 3 – ROLE OF FEDERAL FUNDS.  No federal money was attached to the State’s 2010 adoption of the CCSS in mathematics and English language arts. While the U.S. Department of Education requires that each state have an accountability system in place for K-12 public education, the federal government does not dictate how Kansas educates students or how we assess our public education system; the specifics are up to each state.9 The majority of federal education funds Kansas does receive (less than 10% of Kansas education budget, and underfunded) are for mandated instructional support to special needs students (disabled, poor, second language) and program support to feed hungry students during the school day (free/reduced lunch program). The associated federal rules and regulations are in place to ensure that the funds are used for the intended purposes.

Kansas Education Standards Status:10

References

 

Kansas PTA will spend the next year training our members on advocacy and educating parents and communities across the state about the Kansas College and Career Ready Standards. These standards, if properly implemented, will increase achievement for Kansas’s children. Kansas PTA along with National PTA fully supports the implementation of the standards.

What does Kansas PTA provide?
• Accurate information about Kansas’s College & Career Ready Standards
• An opportunity for your parents and community to become informed about the change in our schools
• Materials and information that can be easily distributed
• The ability to partner with you to ensure all Kansas children receive a high quality education

Schedule a presentation today!

Email us at kansaspta@gmail.com or visit www.kansas-pta.org for more information.

What are the Common Core State Standards?

The CCSS are a set of internationally benchmarked K-12 educational standards to ensure every students’ college and career readiness in English language arts and mathematics. These standards increase rigor in every school, and provide clarity and consistency for what all students need to know once they graduate from high school. To date, 45 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, American Samoan Islands, U.S. Virgin Islands and the Anchorage, AK School District have voluntarily adopted CCSS.


What was the process for developing and writing the Standards?

In 2009, 48 states, the District of Columbia and two U.S. territories voluntarily committed to collaborate on the development of common English language arts and mathematics standards aligned with the expectations of postsecondary job training programs and credit-bearing, entry-level courses in two and four year colleges. The Common Core State Standards were written and published in 2010 by The National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), in collaboration with educational organizations, teachers, researchers, higher learning experts and business leaders from across the country.
 

The Standards are divided into two categories:

  • K-12 standards that outline the grade-by-grade expectations for student learning and results in students prepared for college or career; and
  • College and career readiness standards, which address what students are expected to know when they enter college, technical school or career.

The process was thoughtful and transparent, and ensured that the Standards:

  • Were based on state and international student learning standards with the best outcomes, and the expectations of postsecondary job training programs and credit-bearing, entry level courses in two and four year colleges.
  • Utilized the experience of teachers, the higher learning and business communities, content experts, and leading education researchers; and
  • Incorporated feedback from the public.

The Standards development timeline included:

  • College and career ready graduation standards released for public comment in September 2009;
  • K-12 standards released for public comment in March 2010. More than 10,000 comments were received and reviewed by an advisory group of education, college and state policy administrators and experts; and
  • Final K-12 standards released in June 2010.

Who is leading the initiative? The CCSS initiative is led by States, with coordination from the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers. The federal government has not been involved in initiating or developing the CCSS. Other supporting partners include National PTA; the National Association of State Boards of Education; the Alliance for Excellent Education; the American Association of School Administrators; The James B. Hunt, Jr. Institute; the Business Roundtable, Achieve; ACT; and the College Board.


How were standards set in the past? In 2002, No Child Left Behind (NCLB) mandated that every state implement a standards-based accountability system designed to ensure that all students would become proficient—as defined by the state—in reading and English language arts and mathematics by the 2013-14 school year. Every state has its own method for setting standards. Some states adopt standards through the Department of Education, while others adopt them through the State Legislature. NCLB did not address specific levels of rigor, so state standards were vastly different across the country. This has caused a patchwork system of standards that has proven to be detrimental within the United States’ mobile society. As a result, quality education depended on zip code, prompting the development of the CCSS.
 

Have the Standards been field-tested or are they evidence-based? The CCSS has a solid foundation. They were developed from the best standards in the country, the highest international standards, and evidence and expertise about educational outcomes. The Standards build on the most advanced thinking in preparing all students for success in college and career. This means the CCSS will take even the best state standards to the next level.
 

Is this essentially a government takeover of education because of the Race to the Top grant requirements? No. States and Districts who applied for Race to the Top funds were not required to adopt CCSS. States and districts who applied for Race to the Top funds were required to adopt college and career-ready standards and assess students based on those standards. The rationale behind adopting college and career-ready standards is based on evidence that the United States is not adequately or consistently preparing students for either college or career.
 

Is the federal government compiling student and family data into a federal database? No. Common Core is not a mechanism for federal data collection. Confusion over data collection likely comes from a misunderstanding of the National Education Data Model (NEDM), which is actually a framework describing the types of data that individual districts and states may choose to use to answer their own questions about policy. The NEDM does not contain any data, and there are no data collection requirements for the Standards. Federal law prohibits the reporting of aggregate data that could identify individual students. In addition, the federal government does not have access to the student-level information held in state databases.
 

Does National PTA have a position statement or resolution that supports the CCSSI? Yes. National PTA volunteers have adopted several position statements and resolutions, beginning in 1981, in support of voluntary, clearer, higher academic standards for all students. You can read these documents on our website at PTA.org/resolutions.


What Does This Mean for Students, Teachers and Schools?
 

Why are the Standards important for students, teachers and parents? Education standards and level of rigor in instruction are often complicated and vary from state to state, which can be overwhelming for teachers to implement in the classroom. In addition, parents find it difficult to support their child’s learning at home. The new Common Core State Standards ensure that teachers and parents know the exact end goal and can help each student meet that goal in the classroom and at home.
 

Prior to Common Core, students received a variable quality of education depending on their zip code, which is problematic given the high mobility of families, especially military families. College and career-ready standards are critical because, even in high-performing states, some students are passing all required tests and graduating, yet still require remediation in their postsecondary work. Every student needs rigorous academics to ensure U.S. graduates remain globally competitive.
 

How much will this cost my state and school district? Exact costs will vary by state and district. There are different costs associated with adopting, implementing and assessing the Common Core State Standards, as well as providing professional development for teachers to understand the Standards, depending on what each state and district is already investing in this effort. None of these costs are new—schools, districts and states have always spent money on updating professional development, curriculum and assessments.

The creation of curriculum may cost some schools or districts more money, however since states are using the same standards, the opportunity to share best practices and curriculum will save money over time. In addition, assessments always cost money, but many states are finding that the new assessments will actually be more cost-effective than those currently used.


If the standards are raised, is it likely that students will drop out of school? This is a common concern of parents and educators. Data does not support this idea and actually shows the opposite—when more is expected of students, they rise to the challenge. In a survey of high school dropouts, two thirds report that they would have worked harder if more was demanded of them (such as higher academic standards or more studying and homework). When asked about what would improve their schools, 91% of high school students reported that providing opportunities to take courses that are more challenging would be an improvement.
 

Does the CCSS create unrealistically high expectations that would penalize students in low-performing schools? No. The goal of the CCSS is to ensure high expectations and an excellent education for all students, regardless of where they live. Too often, students in low-performing schools are held to lower expectations than their peers in higher performing districts. The CCSS aim to improve outcomes for students in low-performing schools by preparing students with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in college and career, and to compete not only with their peers in the next state, but also with students from around the world.
 

Are the Standards a new national curriculum? Do they remove local and state authority, or tell teachers what to teach? No. The Common Core State Standards do not dictate the details of academic curriculum; they only provide clear expectations for what each student must know to leave school prepared for college and career. Standards equal the end goal, or the WHAT …… Curriculum equals HOW …… These terms are not interchangeable.
 

Curriculum is a broad term that encompasses everything a teacher uses in the classroom from lesson plans to activities, to reading and math units. In most school districts, curriculum is determined at the local level. The CCSS only set the goal; they do not tell teachers how to achieve the goal, but they will allow teachers to share best practices from state to state.
 

Do the Standards remove fiction and literature? Why do science teachers have to teach reading? The Standards do not remove fiction and literature from schools. The intent of the Standards is to increase the reading level of students to what they will experience in college and career. The 2009 NAEP findings agree that students need to be exposed to both literature (Charlotte’s Web) and informational text (Diary of Anne Frank) in order to be college and career ready. NAEP suggested the following breakdown for literary and informational text:

Grade Literary
Informational
4 50% 50%
8 45% 55%
12 30% 70%


English and math skills are required in all classes, not just English and math; therefore, teachers of all subjects play a role in the English language arts (ELA) and math proficiency of students. History teachers depend on students’ ability to read history books and science teachers need students to be able to understand basic math in order to learn how to navigate scientific formulas.
 

Do the math standards cover all key math topics in the proper sequence? The challenge with having 50 different sets of standards is states cover different topics and different grade levels, especially in math. The Standards have created a coherent math progression that gets students to a final college and career ready point after 12th grade and there is flexibility to allow advanced students to study harder topics earlier, such as algebra in 8th grade. Implementation of the CCSS and new curriculum will adjust for differences among the states.
 

What do the Standards mean for students with disabilities and English Language Learners (ELL)? The CCSS applies to all students in school, including students with disabilities and who are ELL. The Standards recognize that implementation requires providing these students with a range of needed supports, including:

  • Support and related services designed to meet students’ unique needs and enable their access to the general education curriculum;
  • Teachers and specialized instructional support staff who are prepared and qualified to deliver high-quality, evidence-based, individualized instruction and support services;
  • Assistive technology devices that enable access to the Standards; and
  • Additional time, appropriate support, and aligned assessments as ELL students acquire both English language proficiency and content area knowledge.


The CCSS Assessments
 

Will new standards mean more testing? Will common assessments be developed? As states implement new college and career-ready standards, they will also transition to new assessments designed to better measure if students are on track for college and career readiness. As part of the process, two consortia of states are developing common assessment processes and tools—the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC). The new tests will replace old state testing—not add to it—and for the first time, comparable achievement information will be available from state to state.


Will test scores drop? This is a new system with a new way of scoring; therefore, it is not possible to compare the new scores directly with the old state assessment scores. What is important is that the higher standards are measured with better tests. Because the rigor is higher, it may appear that scores have temporarily dropped. If this does happen, it does not mean a student is performing worse on the new tests. Educators expect this short-term decline to improve as teachers and students become more familiar with the Standards and better equipped to meet the challenges they present.
 

How will students, teachers and schools measure success and conduct accountability? Some states have joined Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers or the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium to help create new methods to assess the Standards. Every state will develop CCSS assessment methods as they see fit, and to determine their own accountability models, including guidelines for “making scores count” for students, teachers and schools.
 

National PTA is creating assessment and accountability guides for each state so parents will know how their state will be handling assessments. In the interim, parents are encouraged to work with teachers, administrators and school boards to determine what is the best method for assessing students, determining accountability and evaluating student growth and teacher performance.
 

Does my school have adequate technology to conduct the new assessments? The biggest hurdle that some schools will face is acquiring adequate technology and bandwidth to accommodate the new electronic testing. States still have five years to make this transition, as assessments will be available in the traditional “paper and pencil” format for three years following implementation in the 2014-15 school year. According to experts, an average middle school can successfully conduct electronic assessments with one lab containing 30 computers.

 

What Every Parent Should Be Asking about Education Data

Schools and districts collect a lot of information about students. Empowered parents should demand to get value out of these data. Here are questions you can ask of your school officials to ensure that your child is on track to graduate college and career ready:
 

1. I already have my child’s grades and test scores, so what more do I need?

  • You may have some information about your child, but this doesn’t tell you how your child is doing over time, how they compare to kids in other schools, and if they’re going to be ready for college or a job.
  • Your child’s teacher uses your child’s data to understand your child’s learning and teach to their needs and strengths. Your child’s school uses data to make sure your child is on track to graduate.
  • Example: Early warning systems provide information to educators and families about whether students need extra help. Parents and teachers can use this information to help students improve their performance.

Tip: When you meet with your child’s teacher for a parent-teacher conference, make sure you child’s teacher uses data beyond just test scores to have a productive conversation with you about your child’s strengths and weaknesses.
 

2. Why does the state collect student data? Can’t my district just do it?

  • States can do things districts can’t, like follow children when they move across district lines and connect high school data to college records.
  • Also, because states provide services on a larger scale, they can better employ technical expertise and have more purchasing power to adopt better technology and security than most districts.
  • Example: When a child moves across district lines, the state can electronically transfer transcripts in real time so that the child doesn’t lose instructional time repeating lessons or trying to make up missed material.

Tip: Request information about how your school district compares to others in the state and how children in your district fare in college.
 

3. As we implement state standards aligned to the Common Core, what can I expect to change with regard to data collection or use?

  • Common Core is a set of grade-level expectations and doesn’t require states or districts to collect any new data.
  • With comparable expectations across states, states will be able to better use the data they have to make comparisons to other states and determine what programs, interventions, and pathways lead to success.
  • Example: With comparable expectations, state data is comparable across state lines. Your state can better understand how well third graders in your state are reading compared to third graders in other states—and what those states might be doing better.

Tip: Ask your school’s leaders how they plan to use Common Core assessment data to help students.
 

What Every Parent Should Be Asking about Data Privacy

Asking the questions on the previous page, families are more ready than ever to use education data to help their kids. However, along with the great benefits of education data come school, district, and state responsibilities to keep your child’s data private. Empowered parents can ensure that their child’s data are being protected by demanding answers to the following questions:


1. How is my child’s privacy being protected?

  • There are many federal and state laws that protect the privacy of students.
  • Data systems use complex security processes and technology to protect student data.
  • Example: Oklahoma’s HB1989 outlines policies and processes to protect student data.

Tip: Ask for an explanation of your district’s privacy and security policies.


2. If my school district or state works with a vendor to keep track of things like attendance, grades, and test scores, will my child’s information be secure?

  • Districts and states almost always work with a vendor to keep the data they collect safe and make it easy to use.
  • Federal and state laws prevent these vendors from using the data in any way the district doesn’t want them to.
  • These vendors also can’t sell the data or let anyone else access it.
  • Example: A federal law called FERPA specifies that student records cannot be accessed for purposes not related to education or a health or safety emergency.

Tip: Ask your school and district what oversight is in place to ensure that its data security policies are being followed.

 

3. Who has access to this data?

  • Access to student data is role based, which means that only teachers and other designated local personnel have access to student data.
  • FERPA was designed to protect student privacy. And most states have their own privacy laws in addition to FERPA.
  • The federal government is forbidden by at least four federal laws from collecting student data. And the federal government can’t look at the data about individual students that states collect.
  • Example: Section 9531 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act prohibits the creation of a federal student database.

Tip: Ask for an explanation of your rights as a parent to access your child’s data.
 

What Are Education Data?
Education data means any type of information (like student attendance, demographics, or success in college and the workforce) that helps parents, educators, and policymakers make informed decisions about education.


For more information on how education data can help parents, educators, and education leaders, please see www.dataqualitycampaign.org.