Differentiating Common Core Standards And Testing

This week, PBS will air an episode of MetroFocus featuring yours truly and an editor from a popular school website. What’s worth noting, before you view my comment, is that, when it comes to the standards, people on the ground level view the movement much differently than many people vieweing it from the outside.

From an educator’s perspective, CCSS standards and the testing regime are inseparable. When it was presented to the average educator, it was presented as a set of standards with education professors, business leaders, and the spokespeople from both testing consortia. They were sold to us as internationally-benchmarked, globally competitive, super-rigorous, and teacher friendly. They specifically emphasized the work being done to make sure we had “better” tests.

Yet, for all intents and purposes, the standards only exacerbated, not alleviated, the stresses of the previous decade’s administration all in the name of accountability. In fact, it only doubled down with little, if any, input from the people on the ground. Now, the new tests would come more frequently with more computers and harder than the older tests, which we were told were exactly that.

It’s akin to sports teams that constantly lose no matter how many times you change the coach, or a dirty house that got new furniture, and we have every right to feel cynical.

Of course, one can look at the CCSS as a completely separate document, one with promise for less personal narrative and more actual reading, less rote-memorization and more contextual mathematics. But everyone from President Obama all the way down to district representatives sold it as a package deal, parsed, interrupted, and ignorant of the calls for a better system.

And a cleaner house.

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