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Educators: Standardized Test Demands Hurt Common Core

‘Tis the season for test taking and many educators have had it up to here with high stakes testing connected to the Common Core state standards (CCSS). A recent survey of Education World readers revealed that out of several criticisms of the CCSS and their implementation, 44 percent of respondents said that standardized test performance is overemphasized.

Approximately 21 percent of the nearly 180 respondents of Education World’s Common Core survey said that they did not receive enough training to implement the standards effectively. When asked about whether their district was implementing the CCSS effectively, responses were all across the board with 24 percent saying that they strongly disagree with that statement and another 21 percent selecting the moderately agree option.

When asked to take a wider view beyond their own district, educators have a thumbs down for CCSS implementation nationwide. Thirty-five percent of Education World readers say that they strongly disagree that the United State is implementing Common Core effectively.

Readers provided their specific critiques as part of the survey as well. Several educators said that the standards were not appropriate for certain populations of students. As one teacher stated: “The [Common Core Standards] are not appropriate for all students, including students who have special needs.” English language learners is another group many feel are not served well by the CCSS. An educator said “prior knowledge is becoming even more important. Common core makes ELLs more stressed than ever. Exams are becoming even more difficult for them to pass.” Another reader shared that the technological skills demanded of students who take CCSS tests go beyond what they are normally asked.

“The students are required to test on computers with keyboarding expected, when the rest of the year any computer tests are multiple choice. Ideally testing should be harmonious with how tests have been given all year.”

“Testing is not teaching, testing does not always measure what students know and can do.”

Educators saw the CCSS and standardized testing as two separate issues that are, unfortunately, continually intertwined. Moreover, teacher evaluation is increasingly connected to test results.

An educator said:

“Test scores tied in to teacher evaluation system are not valid for the many teachers who do not teach core subject areas or see students every day. This creates friction in covering mandated curriculum and encouragement of best practices in our school.”

Test prep taking up useful instructional time was seen as a drawback to the standards but some teachers also had criticism for specific elements of the CCSS.

“A hard non-fiction focus helps to destroy a joyful love of reading.”

Educators’ perspectives on CCSS were not all bleak, however.

When asked about the best elements of the standards, 48 percent of responded ranked CCSS being as advertised or  “uniform standards that match what other states are teaching their students at the same grade levels” as the best element of the standards.  Another 20 percent of respondents selected “the standards demand rigor from students” as the best element of the Common Core. Ten percent selected the answer choice “students are applying critical thinking when they offer evidence for their conclusions” as the best element of the standards.

When educators have more in common with one another, they can collaborate as well.

“I'm very excited about the Common Core standards because now teachers all over the country can collaborate and share lesson plans, etc. since we are using and referencing common standards,” said one educator.

The push to get students to think critically and to justify their answers echoes what many educators have been doing for years.

"Good teachers have been using variations of CC years before it was "introduced" as the next big thing. In 45 years of teaching this is one of the better ideas to come down the pipe but because the issue has been politicized, and over standardized, it has polarized the public"

"The common core is real life thinking. I think it's great that we're teaching the kids to be inquisitive learners. They need to explain what they know and how they know it. Fabulous."

“As an elementary school teacher I feel like I teach to a deeper level with Common Core Standards. The standards keep both me and my students focused. I primarily teach language arts this year but did teach math last year. I found the math standards to be more rigorous than previous Core Content however, my district was already utilizing a program for math that taught multiple strategies and critical thinking skills. I found more negative attitudes toward math Common Core standards than ELA standards.”

The survey was conducted from January 19 to March 10 using SurveyMonkey. 177 responded provided their views to Education World. Approximately 59 percent of teachers who filled out the survey had more than 15 years of education experience.  A total of 28.3 percent of teachers who responded taught grades 9 -12, 28.3 percent taught grades 6 - 8, 27.6 percent taught grades 3 – 5 and a remaining 15.8 percent taught grades K-2.

The next report on Education World’s Common Core survey will share what educators’ greatest needs are when it comes to fulfilling the expectations of the standards. Thank you to all of our readers for sharing your time and your opinions.

 

Corrie Kerr

Education World Editor

3/10/2015

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