Roundup: Streamlining Testing, NCLB Waivers, Newark Superintendent Reflects

Today’s news includes guidance for districts trying to reduce testing burdens, NCLB waivers/extensions for eight states, and an exit interview with Newark’s controversial superintendent Cami Anderson:

State Chiefs Group Offers Guidance on Reducing Testing EdWeek: Several states and districts are using Achieve’s assessment inventory to get a more accurate look at the amount of time students spend on tests, the CCSSO paper said. Ohio surveyed its districts to build a detailed picture of what tests are given and how long they take. Connecticut is awarding grants to districts to support their work in evaluating their own assessment routines.

8 Education Waivers Granted AP: The Obama administration is giving seven more states and the District of Columbia continued flexibility from the requirements of the Bush-era No Child Left Behind education law. See also Washington Post.

English Class in Common Core Era: ‘Tom Sawyer’ and Court Opinions NYT: At first, many English teachers and other defenders of literature feared that schools would respond by cutting the classics. That has happened, to some extent. But most districts have managed to preserve much of the classroom canon while adding news articles, textbook passages, documentaries, maps and other material that students read or watch alongside the literature, sometimes in strained pairings.

Years Into Common Core, Teachers Lament Lack of Materials AP: Schmidt’s analysis of 34 widely used math textbook series found that those released after 2011 were, predictably, better aligned to Common Core than older ones but still left out about 20 percent of the standards. Such findings have given rise to a nonprofit website funded in part by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, EdReports.org, which reviews materials for alignment and quality.

Dispute Over Union Fees Could Return to Supreme Court AP: Half the states currently require state workers represented by a union to pay “fair share” fees that cover bargaining costs, even if they are not members. The justices could decide as early as next week whether to take up the case.

Schools Chief in Newark Says Debate Lost Its Focus NYT: Cami Anderson, in an interview one day after she resigned as schools superintendent, lamented that the fight over education reform had become “personalized.”

Testing Opt-Out Bill Signed by Oregon Gov. Kate Brown; Delaware Next? State EdWatch: The Oregon measure makes districts send notices to parents twice a year about their right to opt out of state exams, and about the purpose of the tests.

More Minority Students Should Be In Special Ed, Study Says HuffPost: A study released Wednesday, led by Penn State education professor Paul Morgan, suggests that’s the case. Schools have been identifying too few minority students for placement in special education, he claims — in some cases, by a margin as large as 60 percent.

National, state teachers’ unions split on East Ramapo Capital New York: The state teachers’ union and its national sibling appear to be at odds over a proposal for state oversight in Rockland County’s troubled East Ramapo school district. 

New York’s Public School Students Sweat Out the End of the Semester NYT: A maze of safety regulations and contractual obligations make it difficult for many of the city’s public schools to acquire and maintain air-conditioning.

Alexander Russo

Alexander Russo is a freelance education writer who has created several long-running blogs such as the national news site This Week In Education, District 299 (about Chicago schools), and LA School Report. He can be reached on Twitter at @alexanderrusso, on Facebook, or directly at alexanderrusso@gmail.com.