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Common Core Tests: Success or Failure?

As states continue to roll out Common Core-aligned tests, many wonder if the halting technical issues and unprecedented opt outs signify failure of Common Core testing, one of the most highly debated facets of this country's education policy.

"Last week, technical issues brought testing to a halt in three states, while in yet more states, thousands of parents refused to let their students sit for exams that are expected to be much harder than the old state tests they are replacing," according to the Hechinger Report.

In New York, a war between government and teachers over the state's new education legislation has resulted in over 150,000 opt-outs. "Federal funding is at risk when more than five percent of students don’t take mandated annual tests, though it is unclear whether or how states or districts will be punished," the article said.

Many argue that though it was explained to parents and teachers that their students would be mandated to take Common Core tests- the meaning of the results were not.

“'Whatever test, the results need to be teacher, student and parent friendly. They should impact instruction and be understandable for parents and students...It should be like a cholesterol test, most of us don’t know the science but we do understand the results,'" said Chicago English teacher Ray Salazar, according to the article.

And Frederick Hess, Resident Scholar and Director of Education Policy Studies at the American Enterprise Institute, said:

Social Security and Medicare have done a lot for the most disadvantaged but at the same time they were embraced by the middle class because there was a sense that we were all in it together. With the Common Core, middle class families would be happy to stay on the sidelines, but if their kid is going to miss out on 10 hours of classroom time, it’s no longer let’s do what we can to help all children, it’s my kids [that] are being hurt.

Indeed, several publications in New York have reported that the majority of opt-outs are coming from middle to upper class families.

On the other hand, proponent of Common Core and president of the Thomas B Fordham Institute, Michael Petrilli, saw this year's Common Core testing as a success so far.

"'The good news is that the technical issues are isolated to just a few states,' said Petrilli. 'Smarter Balanced has been more decentralized, allowing each state to contract with testing companies, while that maybe has made them more nimble than PARCC, it might have also made the system less stable," he said, according to the article.

More changes to Common Core could be on the horizon as the Senate works to replace No Child Left Behind.

Read the full story here and comment below.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor

4/23/2015

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