Massachusetts will be replacing Common Core testing with another type of state exam, it has recently been reported.
Until recently, the Massachusetts State Board of Education had been a steadfast supporter of the Common Core State Standards Initiative, which had been spearheaded by the National Governors Association (NGA) and by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO).
The purpose of this project had been to heighten accountability, by establishing exactly what academic knowledge K-12 students should possess, after completing each grade.
The initiative focused on assessing mathematical skills, as well overall literacy (skills related to language, reading, writing, speaking and listening, media and technology).
The standards had been established in June 2010, and had been adopted by a vast majority of the U.S. states as a means of determining student progress.
However, recently some states such as Oklahoma, Arizona, South Carolina and Indiana have ceased to back this initiative, switching to other means of evaluation, and it appears that Massachusetts will also join their ranks.
Following extensive deliberation, the State Board of Education has announced that it would no longer be using the PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) evaluation, consisting in computer-based tests throughout the course, accompanied by other streamlined exams at the end of each year.
In its place, following Common Core’s official repeal, another type of assessment will be introduced, which will be based on the former MCAS examination and designed at state level, in order to ensure that students can successfully meet the expectations of their college professors and employers.
This is a huge blow to Common Core advocates, given that the Bay State is famous nation-wide for its top-notch primary and secondary education, having been ranked first in the National Assessment for Educational Progress for 10 years.
It is expected that other states will also follow in its footsteps, by renouncing their allegiance to these controversial academic standards.
This may please numerous parents, who have claimed that the PARCC assessments are excessively difficult and frequent, causing their children unprecedented levels of stress.
In fact, in New York, around 200,000 K-12 schoolkids have opted out of these tests, and such actions supported by parents have also become increasingly common in California, New Jersey and Colorado.
Teacher unions, which had initially been optimistic when the Common Core standards were introduced, have also complained that having to constantly test students results in greatly reduced time for actual instruction.
In response, the Obama administration has declared measures would be taken to reduce the frequency of examinations, so that they represent just 2% of the time spent in class.
Another problem that teachers reported is that the same year when Common Core was launched, teachers’ annual evaluations began taking into account their students’ test scores.
Based on how many schoolchildren from that class have passed the PARCC exams, the tutor is granted a rating, being labelled as “highly effective”, “effective”, “developing” or “ineffective”.
Two consecutive “ineffective” scores can result in the teacher’s dismissal. The probability of receiving such evaluations is greater than ever, now that pupils’ grades have been nose-diving due to their inability to meet impossibly high learning benchmarks.
Given that it seems that just around 20 states and the District of Columbia appear to be willing to back the Common Core standards now, it may be time for education experts to review the effectiveness of the guidelines they had attempted to impose at a national level.
Maybe a different set of tests should be designed, which could allow assessing the pupils’ real level of knowledge with greater accuracy and objectivity.
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