Too soon for Common Core tests?

Move ahead with Common Core testing, editorialized the New York Times on Sunday.  Tough new math and English tests “are an essential part of rigorous education reforms” designed to teach reasoning skills.

In Kentucky, the first state to adopt Common Core-aligned tests, the proportion of students rated “proficient” or better in math and reading dropped by about a third, notes the Times, which warns New Yorkers to prepare for a shock.

California won’t be ready for Common Core testing, which is scheduled to start in the 2014-15 school year, editorializes the Los Angeles Times. The state “hasn’t figured out how to go about training teachers, and won’t begin to adopt new textbooks — a slow and politically rancorous process — for at least two years.”

What’s more, common core is expensive, requiring extensive new training for teachers, new textbooks and computers on which the new tests must be taken. It’s unclear where the state will find the money.

At the rate the state is going, teachers will end up being trained before the English curriculum is even in place, and instruction would start before the new textbooks are in anyone’s hands. Yet if the school reform movement has its way, teachers will be evaluated in part based on how well their students do on the very different standardized tests that go with the new curriculum. Reflecting the concern that teachers throughout the state have been expressing, one California teacher recently tweeted that within a couple of years, “we start testing on standards we’re not teaching with curriculum we don’t have on computers that don’t exist.”

Teachers believe they’re being “set up for failure,” the editorial warns. Common Core will be “yet another education flash in the pan” unless it’s “carefully implemented with meaningful tests that are aligned with what the students are supposed to learn.”

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, wants to cut off federal money to implement Common Core State Standards, but his proposal probably isn’t going anywhere.

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Comments

  1. Roger Sweeny says:

    This and the previous comment indicate that most students aren’t learning what professional educators say they should learn.

    Perhaps the educators are wrong. Perhaps young people are on to something when they ask, “when am I going to use this?” All too often, the answer is, “you will need it for courses you will be required to take after this, but other than that, never.”

    Let’s ask ourselves, “What do young people really need to know?” Instead, we force them to take condensed versions of courses that teachers took and did well on in college.

    • GEORGE LARSON says:

      Perhaps young people are on to something when they ask, “when am I going to use this?” All too often, the answer is, “you will need it for courses you will be required to take after this, but other than that, never.”

      Let’s ask ourselves, “What do young people really need to know?” Instead, we force them to take condensed versions of courses that teachers took and did well on in college.

      Maybe I do not understand your point but…
      Doesn’t this work only if we assign a carreer to each each child by the age of 14 and lock them into it?. Should we do that?

      • Well, given a recent posting called ‘No Math, No Job’ on here, it would appear that requiring a high school diploma is worthless, as 9 of every 10 applicants couldn’t pass an exam which had 18 questions, a 30 minute time limit, and permitted the use of a calculator.

        Questions asked were along the lines of:

        Use of measuring tools (tape/ruler, etc).
        Convert Inches to Feet
        Basic Fractions
        Density and Area

        i.e. – stuff which a elementary or middle school student should know and understand.

        Now, if the high school graduate or equivalent couldn’t handle this stuff, what is the employer supposed to do?

        The response from the company was that they don’t have the time to teach ‘basic math skills’ to high school graduates (and I’d be the first to agree).

        By the time a student is 14 or so, they should have had discussions about what kind of career they would like, and what coursework (in high school/trade school/college) they would need in order to succeed in that career choice.

        • Most of the 14 year olds in the world choose/have already chosen/had chosen for them (by THE BIG TEST results) a college-prep vs. vo-tech path. This is typically done in those countries whose (1) test results beat ours, (2) educational practices are admired by our ed world people and/or (3) those countries with a strongly content-focused national curriculum.

          • North of 49th says:

            We’re one of the countries that regularly beat the USA on test scores and student achievement, but significantly we DON’T have a national curriculum, we don’t have a vo-tech vs. academic path (for the most part, at least – very limited tracking). I can’t say whether our “educational practices” are admired by your ed world people, but our results are.

      • Roger Sweeny says:

        Not at all. It recognizes that academics has little to do with the majority of jobs and that therefore the majority of students should not be required to take an academic course.

        On the other hand, they should be literate and numerate.

        Right now we have the worst of both worlds. Students take lots of academic courses. Most of them are bored and many see themselves as failures. Students memorize facts for exams and forget most of them soon after. A tragically large number never master the basics.

  2. I should have added that I am not defending the Common Core, as I feel that it has/will have all of the power of a national curriculum (due to its federal funding strings) without being a good one. The academic-content focus, with which I do agree, is already being undermined/circumvented/distorted etc. by the ed world to align with the progressive worldview; all process, “critical thinking”, transferable skills, attitudes and no real academics. It’s been described as another version of OBE and similar Dewey offsprings.