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Washington Insiders Size Up Common-Core Support, Testing Consortia

A periodic survey of a small group Washington insiders reports some interesting attitudes about the common standards and tests being designed for them.

Every so often, Whiteboard Advisors, an education consulting practice, takes the pulse of 50 to 75 political and policy "insiders" including current and former senior staff from the department of education, Congress, and organizations." The most recent study, released today, sought to gauge their attitudes on support for the Common Core State Standards, and the work being done by two state assessment consortia. (Responses in other areas, such as ESEA reauthorization and the Race to the Top district competition, are covered as well, as my colleague Alyson Klein reports on the Politics K-12 blog.)

There were some harsh signals for the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. Only 44 percent of those surveyed said that the group was "on the right track," compared to 83 percent for the other consortium, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers. Numbers are improving for both groups: PARCC's "right track" rating was 73 percent in April, and Smarter Balanced's was 29 percent. The survey didn't report respondents' reasons for rating the groups the way they did, so we don't exactly know what PARCC is doing that's getting more positive marks from the folks in the survey.

Respondents were also asked to rate the level of common-standards support among several groups. They see support being strongest in the administration. One hundred percent of the respondents characterized administration support for the common core as "very strong" or "strong." Respondents rated commercial vendors as the next-biggest source of support: 70 percent see that sector as having strong or very strong support for the standards, with the rest seeing support there as "weak" or "neutral."

They saw Congress as more divided, with one-quarter rating support there as strong, and the rest seeing it as weak or neutral. About six in 10 respondents said support among state education officials was strong or very strong, and the rest saw it as weak or neutral.

The survey also sought to gauge the impact of common-core architect David Coleman's move to assume the presidency of the College Board. Two-thirds of the insiders surveyed believe the move will increase momentum behind the common standards. A similar proportion think the SAT will become aligned to the standards under his watch, something Coleman said was a top priority when he announced he would be taking the job.

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