Things to think about when choosing a college

October 8th, 2015

By Melissa Burns


It is not always easy to make a decision, however it may become simple as soon as you know all the pros and cons. Choosing the university to study at and your future career one should keep in mind the following criteria:

What to study

Make an honest confession to yourself what subject/activity/field you like the most. This is a starting point on your way to success. When you choose what you like, you will be satisfied, motivated, inspired and full of positive energy. Try to understand what is your real passion and calling. Complete some career tests to know yourself and your skills better. After a test you may do a research of the best universities specializing in this or that field. Liaise with the students so they may give you a piece of advice how their study really is. Although it is cool to study at a top tier university, try to rely on your own financial side too.

Where to study

Now is the time for choosing the right university. Your new life period will differ from the one you had at high school – new environment, new studying system, new place. University location is significant too. Still, central universities have a great infrastructure, additional libraries, courses, part-time job. On the other hand, there are also a lot of places for fun like bars and night clubs that are less in a small city, anyway it is up to you how to balance between studying and relaxing time for the successful graduation from the university.



To cover your accommodation, living expenses and tuition fees you should ask the administration of the university or find the information just on its site about Scholarships and Student Finance. It is vital the way you present the information in an application. You may follow the link on some tips for Scholarship Application. It is a special procedure specific for each university, still has some common characteristics. Find some pieces of advice on living expenses in different countries here Student Finance.

Living Abroad

If you are excited about any other culture or want to study different languages, you can go abroad. You will be completely immersed into a foreign environment and culture there. Before exploring a new country, one should get familiar with its traditions, rules and cuisine. That is a great opportunity to travel while you are still a student. You will definitely make new friends there and be happy with your new experience!


Before graduate from the university, try to get a real practice when you are still a student. Find an internship or apprenticeship and go after it, you will already have a work experience that is essential to move on. Learn how to create an outstanding CV, how to work with a team and improve your writing with blogging. Find a lot of the job searching sites and apply. Do not expect that companies are just waiting till your graduation. Be active, interrogate with many people, take part in exhibitions and be optimistic and confident. Also, you can work part time like at different pubs or restaurants or even a cleaning company like SYK End of Tenancy Cleaning that may not be connected to your major but still they will pay you.

So, making an important step in your future life is not that complicated when you think over all the issues connected to university studying. Just remember one thing – whatever you choose, it should inspire you!

Author’s bio:

Melissa Burns graduated from the faculty of Journalism of Iowa State University in 2008. Nowadays she  is an entrepreneur and independent journalist. Her sphere of interests includes startups, information technologies and how these ones may be implemented in the sphere of education

Why Congress Should No Kill Oldest Student Aid Program

October 7th, 2015

From New America Foundation

The federal government’s oldest grant program that helps low-income students gain access to college may be on the chopping block.

No, I’m not talking about the Pell Grant program, which is the government’s primary source of aid for financially needy students. I’m referring toSupplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOG), which go first to Pell Grant recipients who need more money to pay for college and then to other students who have “exceptional” financial need. Unlike Pell Grants, which are awarded directly to students, SEOG funds are distributed to colleges, which add their own institutional aid dollars to the program and then award the money to students.

As Congress begins work on renewing the Higher Education Act, the law that governs federal student aid programs, key lawmakers have called foreliminating the SEOG program as part of a broader effort to simplify the government’s financial aid system. They say that the system is too complex, in that it offers multiple, and sometimes redundant, federal grant, loan, work study and tax credit programs to help students pay for college. They argue that the aid programs should be streamlined so there’s only one program in each category. Under this scenario, the one grant program would be Pell Grants, which typically go to students with annual family incomes below $50,000.

It’s not hard to see why these policymakers are taking aim at the SEOG program, which Congress created in 1965 as part of the original Higher Education Act. (For full disclosure, the Education Program at New America proposed eliminating SEOG in this report, which I helped write.) For one thing, the program is exceptionally small. In the 2015 fiscal year, the government spent $733 million on it, compared to the roughly $30 billion it spent on Pell Grants.

For another, the formula that the federal government uses to distribute SEOG funds to schools is outdated, and, as a result, the grants are not well targeted. Elite private colleges receive a disproportionate share of the funding, even though they enroll a much smaller share of low-income students than regional state schools and community colleges. Multiple efforts to make the formula more equitable have met fierce resistance from private college lobbyists andsenators representing states that are home to these exclusive colleges.

But before bidding adieu to the SEOG program, it’s important to note that it has one feature sorely lacking from the Pell Grant program: colleges participating in the program must contribute at least 25 percent of the award amounts. In other words, the program requires colleges to spend a portion of their own institutional aid dollars on need-based aid.

In contrast, the Pell Grant program doesn’t require any similar contribution from colleges. Institutions receive the money with no strings attached. As a result, colleges have no obligation to use Pell Grants to supplement institutional aid they are providing to financially needy students. Instead, many colleges appear to be using the federal money to supplant their own aid, and then shifting their funds to recruit more-affluent students. This is one reason why even after historic increases in Pell Grant funding, the college-going gap between low-income students and their wealthier counterpartsremains as wide as ever. Far too often, low-income students are left no better off.

At a time when colleges are increasingly using institutional aid to chase afterthe “best and brightest” students to rise in the rankings, and affluent students to increase net tuition revenues, it may be counterproductive to kill a program that, in the words of Stetson University president Wendy B. Libby, “leverag[es] hundreds of millions of dollars in student aid from colleges and universities.”

“While simplification that reduces cost and redundancy is welcome, eliminating programs that provide significant amounts of funding from colleges for students is not,” Libby wrote in a column for the Orlando Sentinellast December. “Simplification does not help taxpayers when it leads to increased pressure to raise Pell Grant funding because of cuts to state and institutional aid for low-income students.”

Jon Oberg, a former U.S. Department of Education official and researcher, agrees. “Any simplification must favor programs with a track record rather than conforming to mindless legislative talking points about the desirability of simplification for its own sake,” he told me. “SEOG would be a program into which other programs might be folded, not the other way around.”

Oberg, who has spent many years analyzing federal student aid programs, has long argued that the SEOG program provides a better model for supporting low-income students than Pell Grants. “Empirical evidence shows that, for the lower-income population, increases in SEOG are associated with more support from state and institutional matching sources, whereas increases in Pell are associated with less support from states and institutions,” Oberg said. “SEOG, therefore, gives more bang for the federal buck and provides incentives for states and institutions to keep up their investments in this population.”

If Oberg had his druthers, Congress would significantly expand the SEOG program. To finance the increases, he would eliminate tuition tax-break programs, like the American Opportunity Tax Credits program, which do little to help low-income students gain access to college, and he would stop providing Pell Grants to students to attend for-profit colleges, many of which have been caught up in scandal.

In addition to growing the SEOG program, he’d overhaul it so that grants from the program “would more closely follow financial need.” In other words, schools like Harvard, which educate a fairly small number of low-income students, would no longer receive a disproportionate share of the money.

Oberg would also require colleges that participate in the program to use the additional funding to reduce the debt burden of low-income students on their campuses. Schools failing to meet this requirement would risk losing eligibility for federal student aid programs.

Lawmakers should consider Oberg’s proposal. It may not simplify the federal student aid programs, but it would likely make them work better. And shouldn’t the ultimate aim of student aid reform be to make the programs more effectiv

Aligning K-12 and Postsecondary With WorkForce Needs And Pathways

October 6th, 2015

Policymakers and educators alike want students to land good jobs once they graduate from high school or college. But are students prepared for the careers that are in demand? And is the coursework offered in high school or college aligned with today’s jobs?

A new report from Education Commission of the States, Aligning K-12 and postsecondary career pathways with workforce needs, examines the policy efforts in 13 states to improve alignment between high school and postsecondary career/technical education (CTE) programs and workforce needs.

“It is critical to prepare students for high-skill, high-demand jobs,” said Jennifer Zinth, director of High School and STEM at Education Commission of the States. “To help with that process, policymakers should consider ways to improve alignment between high school and postsecondary CTE programs, and ensure that both high school and postsecondary programs truly address current or anticipated workforce needs.”

A chart allows for an easy way to compare and contrast approaches to policymaking activity from the 13 highlighted states.

Some important takeaways from this report: 

  • Some states, including Colorado and Illinois, have taken a statewide approach, creating or assigning an existing state-level entity to develop or revise career pathways.
  • Other states such as Louisiana are encouraging or requiring the creation of regional partnerships of K-12, postsecondary and business/industry partners to better align career pathways with workforce needs.
  • California is a state that has created one or more competitive grant programs to support local alignment initiative. Other states have made an appropriation to one or more statewide entities to finance such efforts.

For questions, contact Education Commission of the States Communications Specialist Brady Delander at or (303) 299.3622. 

Why More Governmental Reform Of K-12 Than Higher Education?

October 5th, 2015

By Michael W. Kirst and Will Doyle

Education reform in the United States in the last half-century has been overwhelmingly focused on K-12 education. Educators in primary and secondary schools have gone from a tradition of relative autonomy to the point where the impact of local, state and federal policy initiatives can be observed in most every classroom in most every public school in the country. In contract, while higher education has undergone policy reforms, the impact of these reforms has not been nearly so far-reaching. Since public opinion has been shown to be a driver of policy change in other areas, we review trends in public opinion regarding how the public views K-12 education and higher education. The evidence we review shows that the public has long been more critical of K-12 than higher education, and has only recently begun to question the value of a college education. K-12 is now in an era where there are two main bottom lines: improving classroom instruction and increasing student achievement. K-12 policy has shifted from primary concern with adults, who are employees of school systems, to outcomes for children. State funding for higher education appears to be on a downward trend. The federal government finds itself in the same situation, unable in particular to keep up with the rapidly increasing costs of higher education. Instead, policymakers find themselves in the paradoxical position of needing higher education more – due to the increased importance of a college degree – and being less able to directly control the system of higher education (Zumeta, 2012). Our view is that most of the action regarding accountability for higher education has been in the form of what Tyack and Cuban term “policy talk” (Tyack, 1991; Tyack and Cuban, 1997)

A prime cause for lack of comparative governmental reform of higher education is that public concern about – and disapproval of K-12 education – is much greater than concern about postsecondary education. For decades, the annual K-12 Gallup poll gives schools in a state or nation a C-, while a 2001 poll demonstrated that the public gives higher education a B/B+ (Gallup and Immerwahr, 2001). [1] Without this aroused public, postsecondary education reforms did not attract much political momentum in the past 20 years. Generally the public supports higher education and does not demand reform. Instead, the public seeks greater access and affordability to colleges and universities. (Immerwahr and Johnson, 2007; Immerwahr, 2004, 2000, 1999b).

Immerwahr (1999a) highlights the key differences in public opinion regarding K-12 education and higher education. First, the public knows more about K12 education, and relatively little about higher education. Second, the public tends to view the quality of K-12 education as problematic, and higher education as being of very high quality. Third, the public generally understands that K-12 is paid for through tax dollars, while there does not appear to be broad public awareness that public colleges and universities also receive state support. Instead, most people think that higher education (even public higher education) is funded primarily by tuition (Immerwahr, 1999a). Given that most people don’t know how these institutions of higher education work, there is unlikely to be consensus on policy changes for this sector.

One of the most important findings for the reform of higher education, particularly in the area of college success, has to do with the public’s perceptions regarding responsibilities for educational success. Immerwahf (1999a) reported that 75% of Americans say that almost all K-12 students can learn and succeed in school given enough help and attention. But for higher education, the story is quite different:

With virtual unanimity (91% to 7%) people think that the benefit of a college education depends              on how much effort the student puts into it as opposed to the quality of the college that student   is attending…when it comes to college, the public blames the problems on the  student consumer rather than on the higher education producer (Immerwahf, 1999 p. 10).

A crucial reason for a fundamental shift to enlarged state education control is the widespread of loss of confidence in local K-12 educators and their communities.

[1] For many years of polls see

Are Community Colleges Ready For Free Tuition?

October 2nd, 2015
Report questions free community college 
A new report argues that community colleges aren’t ready for the consequences of providing “free” tuition until they provide intensive counseling and “emulate” the for-profit college sector with relevant course work and internships. (Inside Higher Ed, Sept. 28)source:ECS

College Readiness Subgroup Gaps Pervasive In Best Suburbs

October 1st, 2015

 By Michel J Petrilli  Fordham Foundation     What the best and wisest parent wants for his own child, that must the community want for all its children. – John Dewey

The intuitive appeal of this oft-quoted maxim is obvious. It speaks to the conviction that all of the children in a community or a country are “our kids” and that we should want the very best for them just as we do for our own flesh and blood.

Taken literally, however, it is also problematic, for it equates “sameness” with “equity.” That’s an error in part because what “the best and wisest parents” want varies—some seek traditional schools, others favor progressive ones, etc.

But it’s also a mistake because children’s needs vary. Kids growing up in poverty and fragile families, and dysfunctional communities need a whole lot more than kids living with affluence and stability. And when it comes to their schools, poor kids may need something a whole lot different. That’s why I’m a big fan of No Excuses charter schools, which are showing great promise for low-income children—even if they might not be a good fit for many of their upper-middle class peers.

All of that’s been on my mind of late as I ponder the plight of the Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) outside of Washington, D.C. (My second-grade son is one of its 155,000 students.)

MCPS, to its credit, is a system that’s long been publicly committed to equity. Especially under the decade-long tenure of Jerry Weast, its hard-charging superintendent throughout the 2000s, the district, its schools, and its board were obsessed with addressing achievement gaps. It poured additional resources into its poorest schools—aimed particularly at pre-school programs and smaller classes—earning it plaudits from reform organizations and equity hawks alike.

Yet beyond these targeted investments, the MCPS strategy has been one of Deweyesque sameness. Schools throughout the County use the same curriculum and enjoy the same quality of teachers—teachers who participate in the same professional development experiences.

What’s not the same, however, are the outcomes.

Let’s allow the pictures to speak for themselves. The chart below shows the percentage of MCPS students who met the district’s “college ready” benchmark on either the SAT or ACT this past year. Note that the denominator here represents those students who took at least one of those college-entrance exams.

Source: Table C1, Montgomery County Public Schools, Office of Shared Accountability, SAT Participation and Performance and the Attainment of College Readiness Benchmark Scores for the Class of 2015.

Those proportions—and gaps—are devastating enough. But not all MCPS students take the SAT or ACT; in fact, participation rates vary significantly between racial and income groups. Now let’s look at the proportions using all students as the denominator. (I’m assuming here that everyone who skipped the tests would likely fail to reach “college readiness” benchmarks. That’s probably mostly right, though not totally right. Keep that in mind.)

Source: Table C1, Montgomery County Public Schools, Office of Shared Accountability, SAT Participation and Performance and the Attainment of College Readiness Benchmark Scores for the Class of 2015.

Yes, you are reading that right. Montgomery County is getting just 11 percent of its low-income students to the college-ready level, and fewer than one in five of its minority students. (Low-income students make up about a third of MCPS’s enrollment.) After all of the efforts of Jerry Weast and Joshua Starr. After spending hundreds of millions of extra dollars on pre-school, smaller classes, and all the rest. Eleven percent.

This surely explains the heart-breaking situation at Montgomery College, the county’s enterprising and generally well-regarded community college, where almost 80 percent of students coming straight from high school must take remedial math—and where more than half of students never make it past remediation.

Source: Tables A-13 and A-14, Developmental Education at Montgomery County, Office of Legislative Oversight.

To be sure, “college ready” is a high standard. The SATACT, and NAEP all find that just 30–40 percent of high school graduates nationally meet that mark. And in fairness, MCPS sets an even higher standard for college readiness than the testing organizations do (1650 on the SAT versus 1550, and a 24 on the ACT).

Still, these numbers ought to be causing serious soul-searching on the MCPS school board. They ought to be dominating conversations about who should replace Starr as the next superintendent. They ought to be plastered across the Washington Post’s metro section.

The next superintendent should look at these numbers and develop an urgent and aggressive plan. He or she might start by asking: Is MCPS’s “curriculum 2.0” strong enough? Truly aligned to the Common Core? Might we learn something from the District of Columbia Public Schools and its efforts to create a robust, knowledge-rich curriculum in grades K–12? Might the county get off its high horse and invite D.C.’s best charter schools to set up shop in Langley Park or Wheaton or Gaithersburg? Are we doing enough to provide career- and technical-education opportunities to our young people, especially since we’re not doing enough to get everyone ready for college?

The search committee for the next superintendent might ask themselves: Why not try to poach Kaya Henderson from DCPS? Or Susan Schaeffler from KIPP DC? Or consider experienced reformer Jean-Claude Brizard, who lives just across the line in Northwest, D.C.?

The one thing they—and we—shouldn’t do is remain complacent.


Montgomery County deserves credit for making these data public and for its willingness to wrestle with its achievement gaps. That’s more than can be said about many suburban districts. Now it needs to take the next step and acknowledge that its low-income students may need something strikingly different than its affluent children do. It needs to reject “sameness” and strive for real equity instead. That is, of course, if it believes that many more low-income students than 11 percent could be—and should be—ready for college after thirteen years in its highly-lauded schools.


Economic Diversity At The Most Selective Colleges: Techniques That Work

September 30th, 2015
Learn What Works And Copy It! From CBEE, Sacramento 

The University of California’s nine colleges provide top tier education to the higher performing students of all economic backgrounds. That fact is one of the key points of this year’s College Access Index, a measure of economic diversity at the best colleges in the country put together by the New York Times. In fact, six of the seven highest rankings in the index belong to University of California campuses.  Even more telling, these colleges do not fit any particular model outside of having made economic diversity a strong priority and a strong community college transfer pipeline, which is key. A college education remains the most reliable ticket to a better job with higher wages. We should look this list of universities and do all we can to learn what works.


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80 Colleges Plan Major Reforms in Admissions

September 28th, 2015

September 28, 2015

From Inside Higher Education

80 Colleges Plan Major Reforms in Admissions

Eighty leading colleges and universities are today announcing a plan to reverse a decades-long process by which colleges have — largely through the Common Application — made their applications increasingly similar.

Further, the colleges and universities are creating new online portfolios for high school students, designed to have ninth graders begin thinking more deeply about what they are learning or accomplishing in high school, to create new ways for college admissions officers, community organizations and others to coach them, and to emerge in their senior years with a body of work that could be used to help identify appropriate colleges and apply to them. Organizers of the new effort hope it will minimize some of the disadvantages faced by high school students without access to well-staffed guidance offices or private counselors.

While the goals of the effort are ambitious, so are the resources and clout of the colleges today announcing this campaign. These colleges include every Ivy League university, Stanford University and the University of Chicago; liberal arts colleges such as Amherst, Swarthmore and Williams Colleges; and leading public institutions such as the Universities of Michigan, North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Virginia. The 80 members expect more institutions to join.

While they aim to create a new way for students to apply, they also hope that the portfolio system they create prods changes in high school education that could have an impact beyond those who apply to these institutions.

Read more of this article about the Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success by clicking here.

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How to Survive and Succeed in College?

September 28th, 2015


Melissa Burns

There is no doubt that getting a college degree can be quite difficult and challenging. There are so many classes that you need to attend and on top of that you also want to be part of many events and activities. This means that you need to make a good plan in order to keep a balance. The following is a list of tips that can help you manage the problems and stress that may occur once you become a college student.


Getting organized should be one of the priorities when you start your college journey. It is always a good idea to get a planner and stick to it. Use different colors for different tasks, update it regularly and you should be able to manage your time in a proper way. In addition, organizational skills can help you with your living space because if you leave your desk and room in chaos you will feel more stressed than ever. Try to keep your living space clean and remove all the things that you don’t use on a regular basis. You can use boxes for storing. If you don’t have sticky notes, buy some because they can be true life savers.


In most cases college expenses are so high that students don’t have the opportunity to spend extra money. So, when you are shopping in the grocery store or in any place where you can buy things that you need, look for sales. In addition, you can use coupons found in the newspapers or on the Internet. There are many special websites like Coupon Chief where you can find discount coupons that can significantly reduce the price of any type of product that you need. These coupons are very useful, but try to avoid the temptation and buy things that you actually don’t need. If you are interested in buying books, before you buy new ones, you should try few other options. For example, you can check the local library and see if you can get them for free. If we are talking about textbooks you can buy used ones instead of renting them. Keep in mind that when you are renting books you will need to get them back. If you buy the books you can sell them once you pass the exam. Finally, if you are buying food, try to buy food that lasts long. This doesn’t mean that you should avoid fruits and vegetables, but these foods should be bought in smaller quantities so they won’t spoil.

Take care of your health

College students are at their best age. They are able to handle multiple tasks without any problems. They are at the peak of their mental and physical health. This is why many of them forget that they need to take care of their health. It is crucial to stay healthy during college. Don’t forget that drinking water is necessary in order to renew the cells and to allow your organs to function properly. If you don’t take enough nutrients you may experience dehydration, exhaustion and severe headaches. This is something that can slow down your progress at college. Many students practice unhealthy diets which include processed food and consumption of large quantities of alcohol. If this diet is practiced for a long period of time you can expect to witness some health problems like obesity, blood pressure problems etc. in order to avoid that limit the intake of alcohol and include fruits and vegetables in your daily diet. In addition, physical activity can also improve your overall health. Almost every college has a gym that is free for students so use this opportunity to work on your health. You will feel much better and you will also look more attractive.


With so many things to do on college, it is not unusual for students to experience difficulties when it comes to studying. It is a good idea to create a list of tasks that you need to finish during the day and make sure to add studying on this list. When you are studying, turn off your Wi-Fi, turn off the computer (if you don’t need it) and find the perfect spot where you can concentrate.

Melissa Burns graduated from the faculty of Journalism of Iowa State University in 2008. Nowadays she  is an entrepreneur and independent journalist. Her sphere of interests includes startups, information technologies and how these ones may be implemented in the sphere of education. You may contact Melissa: – See more at:


Common Core For College Readiness Persists And Changes

September 25th, 2015

From US News And World Report:

After spending millions of dollars adopting and implementing the Common Core State Standards and aligned assessments, states are finally beginning to release preliminary results from the first round of tests administered to students last spring.

But it’s unclear whether the results will have any meaningful impact, as a growing number of states across the country are walking back their commitments to the tests and even to the standards themselves, a set of rigorous academic benchmarks adopted by 42 states and the District of Columbia,

“One of the selling points of Common Core is that when families saw this new data that was more honest, they could do something about it,” says Chad Aldeman, associate partner at Bellwether Education Partners, an education policy consulting group. “It’s just not coming to fruition like we would have hoped.”

The 2014-2015 school year was the first in which dozens of states participating with one of the two Common Core testing consortia developing the standards-aligned tests began assessing students on the new measures. Now, as preliminary results come in, it marks a moment that many in the education community have been waiting for since development of the standards began in 2009.

For supporters of the effort, the new, more difficult standards paired with the new, more rigorous tests would usher out an era of pretending students are well-prepared to succeed in college or a career. And they would provide, for the first time, an accurate snapshot of the state of education in schools across the country.

For others, the moment represents some of their worst fears: Without more time for teachers and students to adjust to the new standards and tests, there likely would be a significant drop in scores. And that would be particularly unfair for teachers whose evaluation and pay are tied to those test scores.

As education officials in states using PARCC and Smarter Balanced expected, preliminary results show students’ scores in English/language arts and math plummeted compared with previous years’ assessments, though the results aren’t entirely comparable since they’re aligned to different standards.

But with states flip-flopping on their commitments, the push to create a system that allows parents, teachers and policymakers to compare how students in one state are performing compared to another is in even further jeopardy.

In the last two years, states have passed various pieces of legislation to detach themselves from the two federally funded Common Core testing consortia – the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium – either by defunding the tests, issuing a new request for proposal to testing vendors or repealing the relationships outright.

The latest states where Common Core’s become a casualty include Missouri, Maine and Ohio. The PARCC consortium has suffered the most losses, with its membership cut in half from 24 to 12.

“We’re in the middle of an escalating fight about how much educational assessment is driven from the top down based on partisan and ideological agendas,” says Robert Schaeffer, the public education director of the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, an advocacy organization that opposes high-stakes testing. “There is a rising national movement pushing back against the basic test-and-punish assumption that has driven assessment policy for the last 15 years.”

Schaeffer says Common Core assessments have been a failure largely due to the greater political controversies surrounding the standards themselves. He argues that states have had a good, common metric for decades – the National Assessment of Educational Progress, also known as the nation’s report card, which is statistically balanced for cross-comparisons among states.

But some education policy experts who supported the move to higher standards and aligned assessments say there is still a lot to be gained from the current Common Core landscape.

“You still have over half the states in either Smarter Balanced or PARCC, which is a heck of a lot more commonality than we had last year,” says Michael Petrilli, president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a right-leaning education think tank.

Besides, Petrilli says, ever since the U.S. Department of Education decided there would be two consortia, the commonality was never going to be exact.

“What matters to me,” he says, “is whether the test is well-aligned to the standards and whether they’re set at a tough enough level that we signal to educators, parents and kids whether individual kids are on track for success.”

However, even that notion may be in danger, as many of the 18 states that administered the Smarter Balanced test last school year have been reporting or framing results in their own ways. California, for example, focused on how its scores showed significant achievement gaps between subgroups of students, rather than the test scores themselves.

And last week, when Ohio became the first state to unveil preliminary results from PARCC testing, the state board of education altered the scoring rubric in a way that didn’t align with how the testing company interpreted the results.

For example, students rated as ”approaching expectations” by PARCC were rated “proficient” by the state board of education. And students rated as ”meeting expectations” by PARCC were rated “accelerated” by the board.

Ohio’s disparate ratings sent the education community into a frenzy. Those who have argued for more accountability at the state level worried the move signaled a return to a system that overstates the proportion of students who are on track for success, calling them proficient when in reality they aren’t being prepared well for college or a career.

“This was always supposed to be a partnership among states, and the fact that they can’t come to an agreement … is a bad signal for this whole undertaking of commonality,” Bellwether’s Aldeman says. “And it shows that even despite all this money, the political problems are just too challenging.”

To be sure, Ohio’s board of education didn’t have a choice. The budget signed into law over the summer by Gov. John Kasich, a Republican presidential hopeful, mandated those ratings. That was also the same piece of legislation that included language to defund PARCC entirely in the state, making Ohio one of the latest states to dump its Common Core test.

Illinois, meanwhile, which also released preliminary PARRC scores last week, used the ratings designed by the testing consortia. Nine additional states and the District of Columbia used PARCC assessments and plan to release scores in the coming weeks.

But states moving away from common assessments is a trend that experts expect to continue to grow, further fracturing what has been hailed by some as an important push to honestly assess student achievement.

Case in point: As the House and Senate work to conference their respective reauthorizations of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act – the federal K-12 law also known as No Child Left Behind – both proposals include language that would allow some school districts to opt out of the law’s required state assessments and instead create their own testing systems.

“I will definitely concede that we have lost the commonality of the Common Core, and that is only likely to get worse,” Petrilli says. “But I think the testing ecosystem is going to continue to evolve. Every state will eventually review the Common Core standards, and states will make tweaks and changes. Over time the Common Core will be less common, but I still think there will be a core there that will be recognizable.”