Cracking the Common Core

New York’s students will start taking new standardized tests this year in the name of improving performance. So why are kids expected to fail?

— “The test passages we have been given are written well past the grade level for students,” Snyder said. “I am a big believer that kids can think very deep thoughts and have profound outcomes, but you have to reach them where they are and go further.”

Jody Monroe, assistant superintendent for educational programs at the Bethlehem Central School District, agreed the new standards are “more rigorous” when compared to previous assessment tests.

Monroe said students are learning English language arts and math content earlier. For example, she said a piece of literature previously taught in tenth grade is being taught in eighth grade under the Common Core.

Slentz said in his memo the new assessments would provide a “more realistic picture” of how prepared students are upon graduating from high school. He stressed no new districts would be singled out as underperforming based on testing results this year.

Timeline a sticking point for teachers

A more demanding set of criteria for student achievement has been welcomed by most in the education community, but when it comes to the particulars there is far from universal agreement.

The New York State United Teachers recently came out in protest of the Common Core Standards and released a petition on Wednesday, March 27, asking parents and teachers to call on the state to “end the obsession with high-stakes, standardized tests and return to educating the whole child.” The petition said the state “must stop placing high stakes on too many tests, given too frequently, and that narrow the curriculum.”

The petition calls upon State Education Commissioner John King, Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch and her fellow board members to assert that the exams given this year would only be used for evaluating the state’s progress in implementing the new standards – not to judge teacher performance.

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