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Common Core 101: A quick look at education reform

It's divided political parties and pitted parents against educators against politicians. But almost five years since its introduction, many Americans are still asking: what is Common Core?

First, the basics: Common Core is a set of educational standards which tracks children's progress in math and English. Students in K-12 are tested every year on a set of rigorous of core concepts which are supposed to prepare kids for college and the workforce. (Via WCBS)

>> Read more trending stories  

"Each stop is a chance for every parent and teacher to focus on the skills their student is supposed to know at that step. ... Each standard makes sure all students are learning what they need to know to get to graduation and beyond."

While a state's participation in Common Core isn't mandatory, the Obama administration has tied Common Core principles to the $4.35 billion Race To The Top educational grant. Forty-five states adopted Common Core standards when they were first announced.

In many ways, Common Core is a response to 2001's No Child Left Behind reforms, which evaluated schools based on student performance but let each state determine their own educational standards. In 2013, Education Secretary Arne Duncan told Politico that No Child Left Behind got things backwards.

"No Child Left Behind was very tight on means, but loose on goals. ... I'm trying to flip that on it's head. I want to have a high bar."

Proponents of Common Core, including Bill Gates and Florida governor Jeb Bush, argue tougher standards will inspire better curriculums and more graduates who are better equipped to compete in the job market. (Via C-SPANABC)

But while Common Core sets the standards for education, it's up to the states to develop the curriculum which teaches these standards — and that's where the initiative runs into trouble.

Thousands of parents in New York are choosing not to have their children take the Common Core test this year, after schools posted abysmal test scores last year. Critics say the state's program is poorly implemented and focuses on test scores over education. (Via NY1)

And several prominent educators have blasted Common Core standards for evaluating teachers and administrators based on a single standardized test score. "Teachers across the country will be fired if the scores of their pupils do not go up. This is nuts." (Via The Washington Post)

The backlash against Common Core inspired Indiana's state legislature to pull out of the program and offer its own standards, and Oklahoma is considering similar measures.

See more at newsy.com.  

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  • There is light at the end of the prolonged wet and/or cloudy spell we have been going through. As I’ve been advertising on the radio for a few days now a prolonged dry spell is expected to begin Sunday and last through next Thursday, with modest thunderstorm chances returning Friday and next weekend. By the way, from this long distance, 4th of July weather looks pretty typical for the Metro, very warm and humid with around a 30% chance of an afternoon or evening thunderstorm. But first things first. We are still in a warm very deep moist tropical air mass. And while we get to see some sun today and tomorrow, we are not done with rain just yet, nor the threat of an isolated severe storm or small, weak tornado. Listen for details on the weather today this weekend and next 5 days on the radio in my reports for updates. Or check wsbradio.com at Click on the MellishMeter on the WSB Radio homepage for my 5 day forecast in writing anytime on any digital device. Due to the tropical nature of the air in place, more heavy downpours are likely in spots late today and overnight into tomorrow and that’s on already saturated soils, so a FLASH FLOOD WATCH has been issued for all of Metro Atlanta north of Griffin. Take note that trees may fall in the wet root zones without new rain or without high wind. Also bear in mind that in tropical systems lightning and thunder is often at a minimum, even in storms capable of producing damaging straight line winds or a tornado, so you may get little or no warning. You can see what’s left of Tropical Storm Cindy and the approach of a front from the north. MID-DAY FRIDAY: FRIDAY END OF DAY: FRIDAY EVENING: SATURDAY AM: END OF DAY SATURDAY: SUNDAY MORNING: HIGHEST FLOODING RISK FRIDAY: Flash Flood Watch 2pm Friday-8pm Saturday FRIDAY SEVERE WEATHER RISK:   TORNADO WATCH UNTIL 9PM Atlanta time: The remnants of Cindy will push eastward, and interact with shear axis/weak convergence boundary through Saturday. This shear axis/weak convergence zone will slowly sag south across the metro area through Saturday, serving to focus areas of precipitation. As with any tropical system, the potential for severe weather will exist. Especially for isolated tornadoes within any rain-bands. Areas roughly along and west of the Interstate 85 corridor will have the best potential for any severe weather through tonight. However, if good heating occurs across southern areas today, an isolated severe thunderstorm is not out of the question there, too. End of day Friday predicted (simulated) radar from a couple models: A welcome change is headed our way in the long term as drier air moves into the region, with lower than normal temperatures continuing and lower than normal humidity moving in with a less than normal rain odds Sunday through next Thursday. FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER @MellishMeterWSB
  • Family and friends are preparing for the funeral for a 16-year-old killed in a crash in Cherokee County. Police said a 17-year-old driver fell asleep at the wheel on Hightower Road and traveled into an embankment and hit a tree. Mahlon Thornton died at the scene. The driver has a broken arm. Family members said Mahlon and his friend had been up all night fishing Sunday into Monday. 'They stayed up all night fishing. They were tired and they were probably going pretty fast,' said Cynthia Decker, Mahlon's guardian. Mahlon moved in with Decker three years ago. TRENDING STORIES: Sheriff reduces jail time for Georgia inmates who saved officer Police: Woman attacked at gas pump, turns tables on would-be robbers Homeowner stabbed to death during home invasion 'I'm going to miss that hug in the morning and that hug at night and that hug before he left,' she said. Deputies are still investigating the crash. 'I just want these kids to understand they're not invincible. They gotta rest. They gotta take care of themselves,' Decker said. Mahlon's parents said they forgive the driver. 'No blame, no blame. It could have easily been Mahlon driving,' said the victim's mother, Jenelle Thornton. Mahlon's funeral is Saturday in West Cobb. His family said they are finding comfort through faith. 'Our ministry has just begun because of this event. This will reshape us. We have no idea how to comprehend,' the victim's father, Wayne Thornton said.
  • A mother wanted on child cruelty charges out of Snellville has been arrested in Tennessee.  Savion Piotter already had DFCS cases pending against her in New York and DeKalb County. Snellville Police Det. Deann Green took out arrest warrants against her last week for drugging her four kids with Benadryl in an effort to control them, keeping them out of school for the last year and refusing to seek medical care for them.  When an officer showed up at her Snellville duplex with a caseworker, a 3-year-old answered the door and an 8-year-old subsequently shut and locked it in the officer’s face. Piotter skipped town with the kids before police could return with the warrant.  “I was able to ping her cell phone… and located it in Tennessee. I coordinated with Knoxville Police Department and they were able to locate her in the hotel in that area and make an arrest,” Green tells WSB’s Sandra Parrish.  The four children were placed in DFCS custody and will be brought back to Georgia along with Piotter who Green plans to extradite.  Asked why Green was able to locate Piotter when others haven’t been able to, “My big thing is to keep track of kids and make sure they’re safe and in good condition. So, I wanted to make sure they didn’t slip through the cracks,” she says.
  • The man seen on Facebook Live posing with a gun and what appears to be drugs in front of his child is now in jail, police said. Jakeeco Milton, 25, was arrested Thursday for violation of probation. ActionNewsJax first showed the Facebook Live video of Milton posing with a gun in front of his child on Wednesday. >> Read more trending news Milton is behind bars after police say he violated his probation. It comes after he posted a Facebook Live video, in which he is seen with a gun and possibly drugs in front of his child. Family members told ActionNewsJax they are happy Milton is locked up. Court records show he has felony convictions for resisting an officer and battery in a detention facility. He and the child’s mother have four children together and one on the way. Family members said the couple and the kids bounce around from motel to motel. Both the State Attorney’s Office and the Florida Department of Children and Families are investigating the incident. 
  • Two giant pandas from China have landed safely in Berlin where they are being welcomed by the German capital's mayor and the Chinese ambassador. Men Meng and Jiao Qing were treated like royalty on their 12-hour-flight from Chengdu in southwestern China — their entourage included a Berlin veterinarian, two Chinese zookeepers and traveling press. 'They slept a bit, munched on their bamboo and nibbled on some cookies,' veterinarian Andreas Ochs told reporters at Berlin's Schoenefeld airport shortly after the arrival on Saturday. The German capital is going nuts over the cute bears, which will first be presented to the public at the zoo on July 6. Berlin's last panda, Bao Bao, was sent in 1980 as a gift from then-Chinese leader Hua Guofeng to West Germany's chancellor, Helmut Schmidt. Bao Bao died in 2012.
  • Lauren Hutton is going to be this year's honoree at the 20th annual Maine International Film Festival. The 73-year-old actress, model and producer will be awarded the Mid-Life Achievement Award next month in Waterville, Maine. Festival programmer Ken Eisen told the Morning Sentinel (http://bit.ly/2u03TZ6) that Hutton was part of what he described as a golden age of American filmmaking in the 1970s and that she broke the rules for aging by modeling nude at age 61. She'll receive the award July 20 at the Waterville Opera House where her movie 'American Gigolo,' also starring Richard Gere, will be shown. ___ Information from: Morning Sentinel, http://www.onlinesentinel.com/