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9th grade English teacher: If schools trust their teachers, the Common Core will free them to teach

Here is the most useful kind of Common Core discussion – direct classroom experience.  Jessica Pointer, a 9th grade English teacher in Tennessee, talks in a Fordham Institute post about the benefits of developing her own curriculum for the new standards.

This local hands-on approach is the practice in the many New Hampshire schools I have visited, from Manchester to the North Country.  That’s probably why there is such wide support for the standards here. (more…)

Is the tide going out on high-stakes testing?

New Hampshire has never liked the idea of linking test results to high-stakes for teachers.  Although each school board makes its own teacher evaluation plan, state policy (developed together with the superintendents, teachers and unions) is that framework of multiple measures of teaching effectiveness applied to groups of teachers is more effective and fair than punitive teacher evaluation strategies.

But, with the strong support of the U.S. Education Department, many states have begun using “value added” statistical procedures to reward and punish teachers.  Now the tide may be turning.   (more…)

A math teacher describes the benefits of the Common Core assessments

This Tennessee math teacher writes in a letter to his legislators about the improvement in this new generation of Common Core assessments that have the potential to get beyond testing strategies and give teachers useful insights into what their students have actually learned.  We’ll see these same benefits in NH.


The new standards mean lots of talking—and even writing—about math – Hechinger Report

Here’s another Hechinger report from a Common Core classroom, this one from Jill Barshay, about middle school math in Nashville this time.  (Here’s one from a Miami English classroom.)

Cicely Woodard has the daunting task of helping eighth-graders understand and even enjoy math. Five days a week, she leads her students at Nashville’s Rose Park Magnet Middle School through the intricacies of graphs, formulas and equations. It’s knowledge she knows they’ll need to get into college.

Testing the Common Core in Tennessee

Helping struggling students: A view from one math teacher’s classroom

Even on tough days, she says, “There’s nothing in the world I would rather be doing.”

Woodard thinks her mission became a little easier this school year because of the Common Core, a set of education standards for math and English language arts that have been adopted by Tennessee, along with 44 other states and the District of Columbia.

“I am definitely a fan,” says Woodard, 35, who has been teaching for 11 years. “I am so excited by the thinking and the learning that kids are doing now, and the way that they are able to express themselves in the classroom. It’s really exciting to hear them talk and use all of the math terms to explain their thinking and construct arguments.”


KIPP charter schools losing struggling students to Nashville’s traditional public schools – WSMV

This is not a problem we have in New Hampshire.  All our charters are locally grown and most are aimed specific niches that supplement the offerings of the traditional public schools.  So far, New Hampshire has had the wisdom to avoid charter schools that game the system this way, which is a good thing to keep in mind as we re-examine our charter policies.


Leaders with Metro Nashville Public Schoolshave serious concerns about what is happening at some of the city’s most popular charter schools.

Students are leaving in large numbers at a particularly important time of the school year, and the consequences may have an impact on test scores.

Charter schools are literally built on the idea that they will outperform public, zoned schools. They are popular because they promise and deliver results, but some new numbers are raising big questions about charter schools.

One of the first things a visitor sees when stepping into Kipp Academy is a graph that shows how Kipp is outperforming Metro schools in every subject.