Lisa Gibes is 50CAN’s vice president of strategy and external relations. She lives in San Francisco, CA.

Here are news and opinion stories educators, advocates, policy wonks and makers are talking about today:

News & analysis:
Poll: Most Americans unfamiliar with new Common Core teaching standards

Most Americans have never heard of the Common Core State Standards, the educational approach that is overhauling classroom instruction across most of the country and has triggered intensifying political and policy debate about the nation’s academic benchmarks, according to a national poll scheduled to be released Wednesday. (Washington Post) 

District Race to the Top: Big Promises, Challenges, New Report Finds
The American Institutes for Research has published a new analysis of the common threads—and challenges—woven through the 16 winning applications in last year’s first Race to the Top contest for districts. (Education Week – Politics K-12) 

New Poll Shows Strong Public Support for Publicly Funded Preschool
The 2013 Education Next survey of American public opinion on education, released today, finds that 60% of respondents expressed support for publicly funded pre-k for low-income and middle class children. This finding is particularly salient given its source, which is not connected with any preschool advocacy groups, and has typically been regarded as taking a more conservative line on education policy questions. The PDK/Gallup Poll, also released today, did not ask respondents about their views on pre-k. (Education Week – Sara Mead’s Policy Notebook) 

Testing Consortium Previews Test With Sample Items
Teachers all over the country are wondering what new tests for the common standards will look like when they make their debut in 2015. One of the two consortia working on those assessments has come closer to providing an answer by releasing sample items for its test. (Education Week – Curriculum Matters) 

St. Paul district moves to expand preschool access this fall

An expansion of St. Paul Public Schools’ early learning program will pull 160 youngsters off the district’s lengthy prekindergarten wait list this fall. (St. Paul Pioneer Press) 

New York:
Big drops in test scores can lead to real gains in schools: Commentary by Julie Marlette

In just two short weeks, another school year will begin but this year will start off differently. As students enter their classrooms, their teachers, principals and district leaders will be armed with a new tool for the new year: the first results from state assessments that are aligned with the Common Core state standards. (The Post Standard Syracuse) 

Closing the Proficiency Gap in New York Schools
As befits a tech mogul, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has been a resolute supporter of digital initiatives in New York City, from hiring the city’s first chief digital officer, Rachel Sterne Haot, to strong patronage of the thriving Silicon Alley start-up community. (New York Times) 

View Points:
The Problem With Proficiency

Let’s invent a game; it’s called “Rate This School!” Start with some facts. Our school—let’s call it Jefferson—serves a high-poverty population of middle and high school students. Eighty-nine percent of them are eligible for a free or reduced-price lunch; 100 percent are African American or Hispanic. And on the most recent state assessment, less than a third of its students were proficient in reading or math. In some grades, fewer than 10 percent were proficient as gauged by current state standards. (Huffington Post) 


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