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What's Next? Pundits Offer Education Predictions for 2015

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As students and teachers head back to school after winter break, education experts and journalists are offering their predictions for 2015. Not surprisingly, a large number of them touch on some of the most common topics of last year: the Common Core State Standards, testing, and changes in technology.

So, in 2015, something is definitely going to happen with the common core ... but it's hard figure out what that might be. In NPR's compilation of opinions on education in the upcoming year, Center for American Progress Executive Vice President for Policy Carmel Martin suggests that large-scale debates over the common core will die down this year. That prediction that is echoed by Larry Ferlazzo in a post on the Washington Post's "Answer Sheet" blog, although he also predicts that the PARCC and Smarter Balanced tests will fail to perform as hoped. Meanwhile, The Daily Caller's Blake Neef expects that the contentious debates around the common core will continue, and Claudio Sanchez of NPR predicts "more troubles" for the standard. Matthew Lynch, who writes Education Week's Education Futures opinion blog, expects that more states will continue to drop the framework altogether.

Standardized testing is predicted to take more heat in the coming year, with Sanchez expecting the practice to come "under fire." Ferlazzo predicts that Bill Gates himself will call for a reduction in standardized tests (though the Washington Post's Valerie Strauss calls that "wishful thinking" in her introduction to his article). At Edudemic, Don Kilburn sees changes coming as reformers focus on "the need for better, fewer assessments."

Classroom technology is another main focus of predictions for the coming year. Ferlazzo and Lynch agree with Arne Duncan that increased funding under the federal E-rate program will bring the Internet to more classrooms, though Ferlazzo points out that schools will still need gadgets if they hope to actually use that resource. At InformationWeek, Harman Singh predicts more mobile solutions to that problem, along with "device agnostic technology" that can be used on a variety of devices.

In a piece for The Huffington Post, Brad C. Phillips of the Institute for Evidence-Based Change somewhat predictably focuses on the role of data in education, using four of his ten "top trends" spots to discuss its potential for shaping outcomes and the issue of student privacy where data is concerned. Kilburn similarly predicts the continued rise of data use in schools, while New York University Privacy Research Fellow Elana Zeide told NPR she foresees greater discussion about how data should be used and regulated that involves not only schools and policymakers but tech companies as well.

Other predictions making the rounds touch on the possibility of NCLB reauthorization--Heritage Foundation fellow Lindsey Burke (in the NPR piece) and Neef both bring this up. Educator and author Jose Vilson mentions to NPR that he predicts greater discussion about the best way to support increasingly-diverse public schools, as do Phillips, Sanchez, and Ferlazzo. The latter two also expect to see the debate about teacher quality continue as supporters of the Vergara decision in California take on unions and similar cases make their way through the courts in other states.

Of course, it's possible that Rick Hess will prove correct and everyone will spend the rest of the year talking about the issue that's truly at the heart of education: pizza bagels.

Photo: These predictions are probably a lot more accurate than the ones that would come from a Magic 8 Ball. bark/Flickr Creative Commons

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