Catherine Gewertz -- A new report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office has found that most states have looked into allegations of cheating by school officials on state tests in the past two years. The study, released this week, found that 33 states confirmed at least one such case of cheating, and 32 reported invalidating test scores as a result of cheating.
Catherine Gewertz -- One of the major assumptions underlying the common assessments is that the writing portions will be computer-scored. This capability is pivotal in managing their cost and producing results quickly enough to provide valuable feedback for teachers.
Catherine Gewertz -- On the heels of Alabama's withdrawal from common tests, and questions about participation hanging over Michigan and Florida, Indiana is now saying it might pull out of the shared assessments as well.
Catherine Gewertz -- Yesterday we reported that Alaska had joined the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. This was intriguing, as we told you, because Alaska never adopted the Common Core State Standards that undergird the SBAC test development. How does a state embrace an exam based on a set of standards that it didn't adopt?
Catherine Gewertz -- Could Alaska use—and possibly help design—the common assessments even though it hasn't adopted the common standards? That was the question raised this week during a meeting of the PARCC governing board in Arlington, Va.
Catherine Gewertz -- In an interesting turn of events, Alaska has joined the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, one of the two big federally funded groups of states that are designing tests for the common standards.
The intriguing thing here is that Alaska didn't adopt the standards on which the tests are based. But they have joined the work to develop the tests.
Catherine Gewertz -- More and more, we're seeing general-interest newspapers weigh in on the Common Core State Standards. There have been an increasing number of news stories about how the standards are making their way into classrooms. There have been opinion pieces by advocates and opponents. And there have been editorials, in which the paper declares its position on an issue. Now, The New York Times has weighed in, and it's put itself squarely in the advocates' camp.
Catherine Gewertz -- The new comprehensive assessment system being designed by ACT has claimed its first official defection from the common-assessment states: Alabama.
Iowa-based ACT made a point of announcing late last week that Alabama has signed on to use its new assessment system. It isn't unusual for testing companies to make these sorts of announcements; they're fond of issuing press releases when they snag big contracts.
What accommodations will be provided for students with disabilities and those learning English on the new common assessments? You can get an early glimpse of what half the states are considering by looking at the draft accommodations policy that one of the two testing consortia—the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers—has released.
Catherine Gewertz -- To understand formative assessment, it's better to think of it less as a test, and more as good teaching practice.
That was the message offered by a panel of scholars and practitioners who convened on Capitol Hill today to clear up what they see as widespread misunderstanding of formative assessment.
Catherine Gewertz -- How do you feel about the prospect of computers grading students' essays? That's a pretty pertinent question right now, since it's mired in controversy, and two big groups of states are giving serious consideration to using artificial intelligence to score essays on assessments they're designing for the common standards.
Catherine Gewertz - "Developing Assessments of Deeper Learning: The Costs and Benefits of Using Tests That Help Students Learn," released yesterday, argues that states can replace as many as half the multiple-choice items on their current tests with essays and performance items without spending more than they currently do on testing, and they'd get assessments that offer good learning experiences for students and valuable feedback for teachers.
Catherine Gewertz -- New York is ahead of most states in its work to design detailed curricula and professional development for the common core and to build brand-new tests to reflect them. What's unfolding in the Empire State as a result of that work illustrates the way the common standards can pressure changes in the education landscape, and torque the tensions involved in a deep reworking of curriculum and instruction.