Agenda: Teaching and Testing in the Common Core Era

February 25 & 26 • Los Angeles

Thursday, February 25

8:15 – 8:45 a.m.

8:45 – 9:00 a.m.

  • Caroline Hendrie, Education Writers Association

Textbooks and the Common Core
9:00 – 9:45 a.m.

A key ingredient in effective instruction is having strong textbooks and curricular materials. So where are states and districts turning in the Common Core era? An education researcher provides a preview of two forthcoming studies shedding new light on this critical question.

Common Core in Action
10:00 – 10:45 a.m.

Now that most teachers have at least one year of Common Core testing under their belts, how do they feel about their experience with the standards? To what extent have the assessments reshaped instruction? Has the training educators have received on the new standards been helpful, and what further support do teachers need? Experts share insights drawn from recent and forthcoming survey data.

Teachers and Common Core Training
11:00 – 12:00 p.m.

California and other states have invested huge amounts of money in professional development so teachers can better implement the Common Core. Has the money been well-spent or do teachers still feel unprepared? What are other ways administrators can ensure that teachers feel comfortable with the standards?

  • Martha Infante, Los Angeles Academy Middle School
  • Anne Oberjuerge, Long Beach Unified School District
  • Meghann Seril, Broadway Elementary School (Los Angeles)
  • Adolfo Guzman-Lopez, KPCC public radio (moderator)

12:00 – 1:00 p.m.

Demonstration Lab on Teaching to the Common Core
1:00 – 2:30 p.m.

Experts walk reporters through videos of teachers demonstrating Common Core lessons and offer guidance on what good teaching to the standards looks like.

Under the Radar: Common Standards for Science
2:45 – 3:45 p.m.

With so much focus on the Common Core, often overlooked are the common science standards adopted by 18 states so far – including California – plus the District of Columbia. How are these standards different from typical state standards? How is early implementation going? What are the challenges ahead? Experts tackle these questions and more.

Story Ideas: Starting Points and Strategies
4:00 – 5:00 p.m.

Reporters work with a veteran education editor and one another to shape plans for compelling classroom-focused stories, from quick turnarounds to long-term enterprise pieces. Participants explore strategies for getting out into schools to report on the shift to new standards and tests – and for making good use of their time once they get there.

5:30 – 7:00 p.m.

Friday, February 26

8:00 – 8:30 a.m.

School Visit (optional)
9:00 – 11:30 a.m.

Participants spend the morning in a structured visit to the School of Business and Tourism at Miguel Contreras Learning Complex in Los Angeles, where they learn about the school’s work with the Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards.

How Do the Common Core Exams Stack Up?
8:30 – 9:30 a.m.

A new study examines the quality and content of several Common Core tests, including from the two major assessment consortia. Do the assessments deliver on their promises? And how are teachers responding to the exams?

The Shifting Testing Landscape
9:45 – 10:45 a.m.

Confused about where things stand with states’ Common Core testing plans? Get the latest on changes by states, who’s in, who’s out of the PARCC and Smarter Balanced consortia, and the challenges ahead as some states go their own way. Will all states be ready to deliver high-quality exams this spring? What are the trade-offs as they seek to cut testing time and costs? What should reporters keep in mind when covering test results?

  • Chris Domaleski, Center for Assessment
    Tweet@cdomaleski |
  • Chris Minnich, Council of Chief State School Officers
    Tweet@minnichc |
  • Erik Robelen, Education Writers Association (moderator)

Testing Pushback: Where Does It Stand? Where Is It Headed?
11:00 – 12:00 p.m.

Statewide standardized testing is facing strong criticism and public backlash; witness the opt-out movement that led many families in New York and elsewhere to skip Common Core exams last year. Will the opt-out campaign gain more adherents this spring? How are states responding to concerns about tests and their use? Will newfound federal flexibility spark further change?

12:00 – 12:45 p.m.

New Developments in College Admissions Testing
1:00 – 2:30 p.m.

In March, students nationwide will take a new version of the SAT for the first time, one that ditches the dreaded vocabulary words and tries to better gauge how students can apply what they have learned in classes. ACT also has made changes to its exam, most notably in the essay-writing portion. Meanwhile, the number of colleges that are test-optional in their application process continues to grow. Experts update journalists on these changes.

  • David Coleman, College Board
    Tweet@CollegeBoard (Organization) |
  • Kenton Pauls, ACT
    Tweet@ACT (Organization)
  • Bob Schaeffer, FairTest
    Tweet@FairTestOffice (Organization)
  • Kevin Sweeney, College Board
    Tweet@CollegeBoard (Organization)
  • Liz Willen, The Hechinger Report (moderator)

Advanced Placement’s Role in Readiness
2:45 – 4:00 p.m.

Participation in AP courses has soared over the past decade. But some experts raise questions about how well the program prepares students for the challenges of higher education, and some institutions are becoming stricter about awarding college credit for passing scores on AP tests. Meanwhile, the push to increase course-taking among disadvantaged students has coincided in some cases with lower passing rates on AP exams. Experts take stock of the program and its role in college readiness.

  • James Montoya, College Board
  • Christopher Steinhauser, Long Beach Unified School District
  • Robert Tai, University of Virginia
  • Diane Rado, Chicago Tribune (moderator)

Ready, Set … Remediate
4:15 – 5:15 p.m.

Students who aren’t academically prepared for credit-bearing college courses have to start off in remedial classes. But research suggests that the tests used to make this determination might put too many students in developmental education. Several states have decided to use high school students’ scores on Common Core-aligned tests to see whether they’re really college-ready. What does this shift mean for students and colleges?

  • Pamela Burdman, independent policy analyst
  • Blake Johnson, Complete College America
    Tweet@R_BlakeJ | Website Link
  • William Moore, Washington State Board for Community & Technical Colleges
  • Caroline Hendrie, Education Writers Association (moderator)