MetaMetrics® is focused on improving education for learners of all ages. For over twenty years, our work has been increasingly recognized for its distinct value in differentiating instruction and personalizing learning. Our research on postsecondary reading demands, for example, informed the Common Core State Standards for college- and career-readiness.

In addition to the white papers and position papers we publish throughout the year, our policy briefs will encompass our research on a variety of educational issues, such as closing the achievement gap, next-generation assessments, and college- and career-readiness. The policy briefs will explore potential ways to address these critical issues by focusing on education as the foundation of student success and the stepping stone to social and economic growth in our country.


Policy Brief # 7: Looking Worse Before We Look Better Part II: Communicating Student Performance in a Common Core World

by MetaMetrics President and Co-founder Malbert Smith III, Ph.D., and Director of Professional Development Jason Turner

It is widely accepted that the adoption and implementation of the Common Core State Standards will raise the academic bar of rigor and demand for U.S. students. Most have reasonably assumed that the accompanying common core assessments—Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC)—will reflect that increased rigor. While there is a healthy sense of optimism building around the release of these two assessments, there is a general concern that what constitutes “proficiency” on these two assessments will be far more rigorous than what most states have previously set. One likely, unintended consequence of the release of the new assessments is that states around the country will appear to have suffered a precipitous decline in academic progress (Smith & Turner, 2013). Divorced from context, however, those assessment scores threaten to paint an inaccurate picture of student growth.

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Policy Brief #6: Looking Worse Before We Look Better: Student Performance in a Common Core World

by MetaMetrics President and Co-founder Malbert Smith III, Ph.D., and Director of Professional Development Jason Turner

While political leaders and pundits wrangle over the various impending fiscal cliffs, it is important to call attention to a lesser known, but just as urgent, impending cliff in education. First, it is widely hoped that in 2013 we will finally see the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The failure of Congress to reauthorize ESEA has led the Department of Education to circumvent issues of compliance by granting state waivers. However, these waivers are largely temporary, allowing states some breathing room until the reauthorization of ESEA can be addressed. The second critical event regards the final development and release of the common core assessments by two testing consortia, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC). Thoughtful and careful deliberation of both of these factors will be required if we are to avoid a storm of uncertainty and confusion.

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Policy Brief #5: Transitioning from Adoption to Implementation of the Common Core State Standards

by MetaMetrics President and Co-founder Malbert Smith III, Ph.D.

Since the release on June 2, 2010 of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), there has been a great deal of attention devoted to the five Ws of reporting (NGA and CCSSO, 2010). That is, who created them, what they embody, where you can find them, when they were created, and why they were created. Unfortunately, as we have passed the two year anniversary of the CCSS, the how to implement them has been largely neglected. In the marketing and promotion of the CCSS, careful attention has been rightfully devoted to the five Ws and today one would be hard pressed to find an educator who, when asked, could not recite the answers to the five Ws. However, those same educators would likely be unable to tell you how they will implement these standards in a real classroom. 

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Policy Brief #4: A Mathematics Problem: How to Help Students Achieve Success in Mathematics Through College and Beyond

by MetaMetrics President and Co-founder Malbert Smith III, Ph.D., and Director of Professional Development Jason Turner

U.S. students are consistently outperformed in mathematics by their international peers. While 2011 NAEP results show a modest increase in mathematics performance, only about one-third of our eighth-grade students achieved the proficiency level. The disconcerting truth is that many U.S. students graduate unprepared for the challenges they will likely face in college and careers, and this trend will continue to negatively impact our students’ and our nation’s ability to compete globally. The Common Core State Standards, which nearly all states have adopted, provides policy makers, educators and parents with a road map for preparing students for postsecondary mathematics demands. But, as districts and schools begin to implement the Standards, they must also have access to the curriculum resources to make this aggressive drive toward real-world readiness a reality for all students. The Quantile® Framework for Mathematics—and the many free tools that support its implementation—is a unique resource for providing the targeted instruction that both striving and struggling students need as they ready themselves for the demands of their academic and professional pursuits.

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Policy Brief #3: Fulfilling the Promise of the Common Core: Innovative Solutions to Eliminate the Readiness Gap in the “New Normal”

by MetaMetrics President and Co-founder Malbert Smith III, Ph.D.

At no time in the history of American K-12 education have the challenges and consequences of our actions been so great. As students across the nation settle into a new school year, administrators and educators are simultaneously attempting to implement the new Common Core State Standards in an economic climate plagued by budget shortfalls—an environment many economists have dubbed the “New Normal.” While no consensus exists on whether our economy will double-dip or will just recover slowly, what is certain is that educators will need to do more with less. How can educators and students realize the promise and potential of the Common Core in the “New Normal” when projected federal and state funding cliffs are quickly becoming reality? Two cost-effective strategies—personalized learning platforms and summer reading—have shown promise in helping educators eliminate the college- and career-readiness gap within today’s financial and time restraints.

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Policy Brief #2: Bending the Reading Growth Trajectory: Instructional Strategies to Promote Reading Skills and Close the Readiness Gap

by MetaMetrics President and Co-founder Malbert Smith III, Ph.D.

The January 26 edition of Education Week summarizes the postsecondary readiness gap in unequivocal terms: “High school completion does not equal college readiness.” This reality is the foundation of the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts which are designed to prepare students “to read and comprehend independently and proficiently the kinds of complex texts commonly found in college and careers.” But what exactly does this mean for educators, and how can they help prepare students for the reading demands of their academic and professional pursuits? Research has validated some instructional strategies—such as exposing middle and high school students to more complex text, using benchmark assessments to supplement year-end tests, and mitigating summer loss—all of which can address the velocity and deceleration of reading growth in order to enhance comprehension skills and support students on higher learning trajectories. As idealized growth trajectories are adopted in response to Common Core—and states continue to collect more and better longitudinal data—we will be even better positioned to think strategically about how we can modify instruction to support students as they progress toward college- and career-readiness.

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Policy Brief #1: Bridging the Readiness Gap: Demystifying Required Reading Levels for Postsecondary Pursuits

by MetaMetrics President and Co-founder Malbert Smith III, Ph.D.

What does it mean to be "college- and career-ready?" According to Education Secretary Arne Duncan, the Holy Grail of education is to ensure that all high school graduates are adequately prepared for their academic and professional pursuits. This goal underscores the current national educational reform agenda-both Race to the Top requirements and Common Core criteria advocate standards that build toward and ensure college and career readiness. While many factors comprise readiness, one of the most important is the ability to read and comprehend complex texts. And although our research shows a significant gap between the text demands of high school and the postsecondary world, progress has already been made in reconsidering the entire scope of the P-20 educational landscape. Using our research, Appendix A of the Common Core State Standards demonstrates how the text continuum can be redrawn by grade bands so that educators and administrators have a reliable road map to make sure students are building the reading skills necessary to meet the challenges and seize the opportunities that await them. By forecasting deficiencies in reading ability, we can demystify the "readiness gap," raise the bar for reading achievement, and better prepare students for success in their postsecondary endeavors.

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