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Common-Standards Roundup: Road Trip, Gates Grant, More Debate

I've come across a few noteworthy items related to the common-core standards that I want to share with you.

First, my colleague Sean Cavanagh recently made a road trip to Frostburg, Md., to observe that state's efforts to promote professional development pegged to the common standards. He attended one of 11 "educator effectiveness academies" being staged across Maryland this summer. Those are being supported by the state's federal Race to the Top grant. Here's the EdWeek story.

Second, speaking of EdWeek stories, Kathleen Porter Magee from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute weighs in on the implementation of the common standards in light of my co-blogger Catherine's recent story about the publishers' criteria recently issued by the two lead writers of the English/language arts standards. In her blog post, Magee takes issue with some of the complaints raised by folks about the publishers' criteria. She closes her post by saying advocates of the common standards "need to get serious about defending effective implementation."

Finally, I discovered sort of by accident the other day that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, a major advocate for the common standards, in July issued a $2 million grant to the National Writing Project to increase the capacity of local writing projects in three states to provide districts with "high quality" (of course!) professional-development opportunities to help implement the ELA standards in writing. (The Gates foundation also has provided funding to Education Week's corporate entity, Editorial Projects in Education.)

The Gates grant is no doubt especially welcome news to the National Writing Project, given that the organization's work took a big financial hit recently. The federal budget agreement for the current fiscal year eliminated annual aid (to the tune of $26 million last year) for the writing project, a national network based in Berkeley, Calif.

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