Up until now, I have largely remained on the sidelines over Common Core Standards and testing. There are things I agree on with the standards. They encourage students to look deeper at what they are learning and truly examine, process, and synthesize the information (both in English Language Arts and Mathematics) for lasting learning results—at least ideally. The thought from the USA Federal level is that we are completely loosing our competitive edge as a nation and need a core group of standards to educate and mobilize our young people, to once again be leading global players on the college and business stage. Yet like you, I have read studies that have: discussed the limitations of Common Core, pointed to the limited research that has been done on efficacy of the curriculum; decried the fact that it is geared towards learners who process information best via text, as opposed to other learning styles and means; bemoaned the fact that it pushes teaching to the test, as opposed to real learning; watched puzzled and aghast at the clumsy and stressful rollout in school districts; and have been restrained in my comment or over reflection on the matter. —Until now.
Right now, I am experiencing a more visceral reaction. As testing weeks come to a close, I both admire and worry about the effects of those who have chosen to opt out. I admire individuals who have taken a stand on the issue and have chosen to opt out, worried about pushing a controversial curriculum and methodology on their children. I admire individuals who say that the school funding and teacher evaluations should not be tied to a curriculum focus and means of testing, that is controversial in nature at best, and detrimental at worst. I join in their outrage over the fact that the state government is able to strong arm school districts with funding threats and penalties, to force such testing and use of teacher evaluations in school districts, while better and more comprehensive methods exist to measure students’ progress, over a time span in school.
I think of all the hard work a majority of teachers put into their days and into lesson planning, and feel disgusted that their evaluations are tied in these tests, in such a large capacity. I am saddened, deeply saddened for the undue stress many children are experiencing when it comes to the “new math” that tries to teach elementary students advanced mathematical principles, when basic ones would probably just do for now. I am saddened for children who are still struggling to be full readers, but are expected to fully grasp reading passages that are beyond their scope.
I am frustrated, saddened, and very angry over the fact that certain students may be just fine with the common core, but for other students who struggle to understand the material, learn differently, or are not ready for what the grade level emphasis is, are: struggling horribly in the elementary grades, are learning to hate school, and are developing an extremely poor self-concept. A big part of the problem for those students who struggle is that they do not have support from home since their parents may lack the time, ability or desire to understand all the new ways concepts are taught. I am outraged that our children, our students, our future are the pawns of state politics. In budgetary battles, controversy over teachers’ unions, controversies over local versus state control, our children lose out with an imperfect curriculum and test.— While it may not come to fruition, it has been stated and is very possible that school districts will lose funding because they are not in full compliance with Common Core and its testing policies. If this occurs, are children lose out and are hurt the most! As always, it is the youngest and most vulnerable that lose the most!